Solar Flare

May 7, 2011

Today Second Life took us all the way to London to learn about how the Sun affects the Earth. We talked to Dr. Joanna Haigh, a scientist who studies how changes in the sun may affect Earth’s climate. The Sun even appeared in the auditorium during the talk!

The Sun takes part in Dr. Joanna Haigh’s talk in Second Life

The Sun takes part in Dr. Joanna Haigh’s talk in Second Life

Not only did we learn about the Sun today, we found a way to view it safely through a telescope on the Museum’s rooftop Weintraub Observatory. We could clearly see sunspots on the surface – these are “cool” regions of the Sun because they’re “only” 3000°C. (I guess that’s cool compared to the surrounding 6000°C temperatures!) Solar flares, which occur around sunspots, are solar storms that can actually disrupt communications here on Earth. It’s incredible that something 93 million miles away affects us!

Rooftop solar observations

After using the telescopes, we made our own camera out of a potato chip can (and got to eat the chips too). We cut the can into two sections, and put it back together with the lid in between – this would be the screen for the camera. We poked a tiny hole in the bottom of the can, and when we looked through it, everything was upside down and backwards! Can you figure out why?

Homemade Pinhole Cameras

Climatology Career Day

April 30, 2011

You always hear people say that we need to have our next generation be strong in science, technology, engineering, and math. We are the next generation, but it’s hard to know sometimes how we get there. What do you really do as a climatologist, an atmospheric scientist, or a meteorologist? And what should you study in school to get there? Today the Museum held a Climatology Career Day for students in the Museum’s Youth EXPO, Digital WAVE, and Upward Bound programs to answer these questions.

Dr. Clement makes a cloud in a jar

Dr. Clement makes a cloud in a jar

We’ve all learned about climate change, but now we get to hear more about how we can really be a part of it. We talked with a Robert Molleda, Warning Coordination Meteorologist from the National Weather Service; Maria Beotegui, Education Coordinator from Biscayne National Park; David Bernard, CBS4 Chief Meteorologist; Dr. Arturo Rodriguez, Professor of Chemistry and Meteorology from Miami Dade College; Erik Salna, Associate Director of the International Hurricane Research Center at Florida International University; Dr. Amy Clement, Professor of Meteorology and Oceanography from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science; and Dr. Kevin Helmle, Research Scientist from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Not to mention Michael Garay, Senior Physics Engineer from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who was the keynote speaker for the event and spoke with us through Second Life.

Speakers L to R: David Bernard, Robert Molleda, Erik Salna, Dr. Arturo Rodriguez, Dr. Kevin Helmle, Maria Beotegui, Dr. Amy Clement

These people were all so different, but they all seemed to have something in common – when they were younger, some kind of spark inspired them to get into science, and they worked really hard to get where they wanted to go. All we need to do now is follow our own inspiration.