VSP Photo Contest Winners


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In the second week of May, we at the Virtual Star Party on Google+ decided to hold a contest. Every week, we have a live show where we connect telescopes to cameras from across the world and stream their views live into a Google+ Hangout On Air. While this is happening, however, many other astronomers have started adding their photos into the Event, sharing their still images while we’re live. Because of this fantastic amount of interaction and engagement with our audience, we went forward with a photo contest, where the winners would have their astrophotography featured on the banners, icons and various graphics we use on the show and social media outlets. The response was nothing short of breathtaking. There were about 120 entries submitted in total. Men and Women from across the world joined in by looking up into the Cosmos, capturing those moments, then shared them with the rest of us in the contest. Various types of optics were used, from 14″ Newtonian telescopes to 135mm camera lenses to binoculars. This doesn’t even include the different cameras used! Modified DSLR cameras pitted against dedicated telescope detectors with some iPhone shots thrown into the mix as well! At the end of the day, I was left with the overwhelming task of being the judge of this contest. It wasn’t easy, to say the least. There were no precise criteria that were taken into consideration, except that it needed to be their own work with the details of the object, optics and detector used to capture the image. All sorts of different objects were submitted: Moon, Nebulae, Galaxies,...

James Webb Space Telescope at SXSWi

From 8-11 March, 2013 I was down in Austin, TX with a large collaboration focused on providing outreach for the James Webb Space Telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute from Baltimore, Maryland gathered with Microsoft Research, Northrop Grumman, Ball Aerospace, NASA, University of Texas and CosmoQuest in order to provide public outreach at South by Southwest Interactive for the upcoming successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. To solidify its magnitude, a full-scale model of JWST was shipped and assembled between the Long Center for Performing Arts and the Palmer Center in Austin, right off of Riverside. The model reached 4 stories into the sky, covering an area the size of a tennis court, dwarfing anything around it, as you can see to the left. I experienced so many firsts, least of which being my first time attending South by Southwest. It was my first time in Texas, let alone Austin, and it’s an absolutely gorgeous and fun city to visit. Though I didn’t have much time to explore, working 12+ days for SXSW, we still were able to appreciate many local eateries, including Kerbey Lane Cafe. This was also the first time I physically met my Virtual Star Party Co-Host (and general e-partner-in-crime), Fraser Cain. It was quite amazing how though we’d never met in person, our working together for over a year using the Google+ Hangout platform had made it so we really knew one another. It allowed us to understand each other’s cues and have some fantastic opportunities for outreach, not to mention some extremely successful Hangouts On Air broadcasts while at SXSWi. It was International Women’s...

International Observe The Moon Night

September 22 is International Observe the Moon Night.   Here is part one of our InOMN hangouts starting in Australia/New Zealand featuring Paul Stewart as the astronomer bringing us the view of the moon, with Dr. Pamela Gay and I discussing the science!     Part 2 With Dr. Nicole Gugliucci on site at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Ahmet Kale from Turkey, Kristian Jerslev and Jens Riggelsen from Denmark, and David Riley from the United Kingdom Part 3 The final observation session took us to the North American continent with astronomers from across the United States as well as Fraser Cain hosting from Canada. It’s absolutely amazing to be able to work with such phenomenal people from across the world! Our local outreach session ended up being cancelled due to heavy “partial clouds” throughout the evening. Dr. Denise Kaisler and I, along with some volunteers stuck around on campus to let our visitors know the bad news. When the Moon did peek through a hole in the clouds, I set up my Celestron 15x70mm binoculars to give the attendees a glimpse before the Moon went away again. A very big “Thank you!” goes out to all of the astronomers from across the globe who volunteered their time, energy and equipment for International Observe the Moon Night! This could not have happened without you! Also, Dr. Nicole Gugliucciwas absolutely awesome for broadcasting from local outreach locations and co-hosting our final session, even though she’s on vacation. Thank you Nicole! Fraser Cain, creator and publisher of UniverseToday hopped into our final session to help host, even though he had other things that needed...

Annular Eclipse Broadcast

We had a fantastic time on campus at Citrus College to watch the Eclipse! Thank you to the administration for allowing us access to our optics and mounts! Special thanks to Dr. Dave Kary and Dr. Denise Kaisler who were fantastic with their outreach to the public! Photos will come from our Eclipse Party once I receive them! Not only did we have an amazing time on campus, but our view of the eclipse was featured on a special Q&BA Hangout on Google+ & YouTube with The Bad Astronomer Phil Plait! Joining the party were: Fraser Cain, Pamela Gay, and Nicole Gugliucci! We had a fantastic time sharing the Annular Eclipse with the world! Thank you to everyone for your lovely support despite the technical difficulties that occurred! LIVE Solar eclipse Q&BA hangout Here’s the video of our special hangout which was recorded Just For You! My view comes in at around 1hr:55min. Enjoy!...
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