June 2006

In U.S. schools, June means it is time (or almost time) for summer vacations to begin. So congratulations to those educators who are finishing their school year! When you get a chance to take a step back and begin to prepare for the next year, we hope that you will find useful resources within the Windows to the Universe Web site.

This month's newsletter contains links to some beautiful images, fascinating content, and an exciting new online game. Peruse the articles below for more information about our recently expanded Space Weather Image Gallery, our Archeoastronomy and Water Cycle sections, articles about science research, the scientific results of the GLOBE at Night event, and Planet Sudoku, our newest game.

Space Weather Image Gallery

As part of my preparations for a recent workshop presentation, I added several images and animations to our Space Weather Multimedia and Image Gallery page. Check out this collection of fantastic images of the Sun, Earth's magnetosphere, and the Aurora. Some highlights include:

Archeoastronomy of Interest?

Did you know that the Windows to the Universe site has an Archeoastronomy section?

The new field of archeoastronomy started in the 1960s with discoveries at Stonehenge, the world's most famous megalithic structure. Archeoastronomy has been called the 'anthropology of astronomy' to distinguish it from the history of astronomy. This means that archeoastronomy pays attention to the astronomical practices, mythologies, and religions of ancient cultures. It aims to discovery astronomy's role in ancient cultures.

Use this section as inspirational reading to jump start a love of astronomy for your students or to get inspired for some stargazing yourself. Enjoy!

Connecting Scientific Research with Classrooms

The Windows to the Universe Headline Universe section contains a wealth of articles that describe scientific research. Through these articles, students can explore an array of research topics; reinforcing the fact that scientific discovery is an ongoing and dynamic process. For example, the article Using Leaves from the Past to Tell the Future describes how scientists are using the fossilized leaves of ancient plants that lived during a period of rapid climate change to provide insight and improve our understanding of how modern climate change may affect life on Earth. Connect this article with content from the Climate, Life, and Earth History sections of Windows to the Universe and try a relevant classroom activity such as Paleoclimates and Pollen or Adaptation Investigation with your students.

This type of activity brings science content, scientific process, and inquiry skills together addressing components of several National Science Education Standards including Unifying Concepts and Processes, Earth History and Evolution of the Earth System (Content Standard D), Science in Personal and Social Perspectives (Content Standard F), and the History and Nature of Science (Content Standard G)

The Endless Water Cycle

Run and get a glass of water, put on a table in front of you. Watch closely. Do you know how old this water is? Planet Earth has a limited amount of water that keeps going around and around from the ground to the skies and back to the ground. This is known as the water cycle. This cycle is made up of several processes, evaporation, transpiration, and precipitation, that move water from one place in the cycle to another. When water comes back to the ground via precipitation, it is collected by lakes, rivers and oceans. Water evaporates as the Sun heats the surface of lakes, rivers and oceans. When water condenses in the atmosphere it forms different kinds of clouds, which make it possible for us to have rain, thunderstorms, rainbows or snow. This process has been happening for at least 3.8 billion years. So that glass of water in front of you may have also been consumed by Apatosaurus, kings and princesses, knights and squires, or your great grandparents! Make good use of it as future generations will need to take a sip of it too! Now that you have learned all about this cycle and its parts, have fun with our Intermediate Weather Crossword !

Take a Sneak Peek at our New Planets Sudoku Puzzle!

Are your students crazy about sudoku puzzles? This month our registered educators (that's you!) can preview our new Planets Sudoku. Your students will learn the names and order of the planets in no time when they play our colorful version of this popular puzzle.

The puzzle is still in development, but we need your input! Have fun for a few minutes or hours and please let us know about any bugs or problems that you may encounter. Other suggestions are welcome, too! We will let you know when the puzzle is on the site and ready for your students to play.

The First GLOBE at Night Event a Success!

Students, families and citizen-scientists from around the world participated in this international campaign on March 22-31, 2006 to observe and record the magnitude of visible stars as a means of measuring light pollution in a given location. Over 18,000 people from 96 countries on all continents (except Antarctica) reported 4591 nighttime observations! Take a look at the full report and analysis of the data. Be sure to join us next year for the second annual GLOBE at Night (March 8 21, 2007).

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