Cool Star Lab Alumna Jackie Faherty Talks Supermoon on NPR

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Cool Star Lab alumna Dr. Jackie Faherty, now a Senior Scientist at the American Museum of Natural History, spoke to NPR today about tonight’s “Supermoon” phenomenon.

The Moon’s orbit is an ellipse with an average eccentricity of 0.05, and therefore varies between 363,000 km (perigee) and 405,000 km (apogee) from Earth.  When the Moon is close to perigee at Full Moon (a “perigee syzygy”), it can appear 10% wider and thus 22% brighter than a Full Moon near apogee.

Image of the full moon from NASA

However, the gravitational tugs of the Sun, Jupiter and Venus actually perturb the orbit of the Moon enough to drive the eccentricity to a range of values, typically between 0.026 and 0.077.  So tonight’s Moon is just a little bit closer (357,000 km), and is estimated to be about 30% brighter than an apogee Full Moon. This makes it the brightest supermoon since 1948, and the next closer one won’t be until 2034.

You can hear more details about the Supermoon from Jackie’s NPR segment at http://n.pr/2eV1omg.

 

Beach Physics & Dianna Cowern Featured on Local Innovate 8 Program

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Dianna Cowern and the Beach Physics project were recently featured on the local CBS affiliate KFMB in San Diego as part of its Innovate 8 program. Innovate 8 is a collaboration between the San Diego County Office of Education and UC San Diego, and aims to inspire and engage K-12 students to excel in the fields of Science,Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) through interactive, educational opportunities.

The 3-minute feature includes a preview of the Beach Physics Pop-up Science Lab with students from Albert Einstein Academy Middle School.  The Pop-up Lab has recently received funding through a grant awarded by the La Jolla Community Foundation.

The Innovate 8 feature can be viewed here: http://www.cbs8.com/category/155799/video-landing-page?clipId=10964959&autostart=true

Dianna Cowern & Beach Physics Awarded Funding by Inaugural La Jolla Community Foundation Grants Program

Dianna Cowern receiving the "big check" with Susan McClellan of the LJCF (left) and Lucille Schindler of the UCSD Development Office (right)

Dianna Cowern receiving the “big check” with Susan McClellan of the LJCF (left) and Lucille Schindler of the UCSD Development Office (right). Photo courtesy Carol Hobson

Beach Physics was one of four programs to be awarded funding by the La Jolla Community Foundation, in their inaugural Foundation Grants program.  Beach Physics Creative Director Dianna Cowern (aka “The Physics Girl”) received the $8300 grant – the largest awarded this year – at an awards ceremony at Madison Gallery.  The grant will support two projects in 2015 that aim to enrich science education for La Jolla students and will move Beach Physics from online lessons to live events:

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Gardens of the Galaxy: Art of Science Learning Play Day!

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The Cool Star Lab and volunteers from the Physics Dept. created its second public installation of a Pop-Up Galaxy Garden during the July 24th Art of Science Learning (AoSL) Play Day in Balboa Park. We were granted a prime site for this event, right in the middle of the historic Plaza de Panama in front of the San Diego Museum of Art. The event, organized by AoSL’s Nan Renner and funded by the Museum of Art and Panama 66, aimed to bring together educators and education enthusiasts from around the region to learn about and play with each other’s projects, and make connections.

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Cool Star Lab Introduces Students from Across Latin America to the Joy of Physics

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Members of the Cool Star Lab were part of a contingent of 16 Physics undergraduates, graduates, postdocs, teachers and faculty who facilitated a morning of physics demonstrations, circuit building and LN2 ice cream, as part of the Institute of the Americas Science & Innovation Camp.  40 high-school students from across Latin and South America were selected to participate in this two-week residential camp at the Institute of the Americas, receiving classroom and field instruction from Spanish-speaking teachers, with conducting projects focused on innovation and evaluation of scientific and technological responses to climate change.

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