I realize the last three blogs I’ve posted here have been about astronomy instead of the elements (although the elements are mentioned here and there). I tend to write about what’s been on my mind, and since I’m not teaching chemistry this year, but I am teaching astrobiology, you’ve been getting quite a bit about the Moon and now about Mars and the stars. I hope you don’t mind.
My astrobiology students are now hard at work creating podcasts for the 365 Days of Astronomy website. The first episode was uploaded this evening and is scheduled to “air” on Friday, Dec. 2. Three other episodes will follow, on Dec. 8, 14, and 19. Here’s a link to the website: http://365daysofastronomy.org/
This first episode was researched and recorded by Mazie, Cali, and Tia and is about how stars are named. They describe the four most common methods: Common names (such as Bellatrix or Rigel or Sirius), the Bayer naming system (such as Alpha Centauri), the Flamsteed System (such as 61 Cygni), and various star catalogs such as the various Durchmusterungs, the Henry Draper, Hipparcos, etc.
Rather than steal their thunder, I am attaching the audio file here:
And here is the transcript of their presentation:
Unfortunately, as I was preparing this post and gathering images (such as this one of Virgo taken from Johann Bayer’s Uranometria) I discovered that we made one mistake. We had listed the star Zuben Eschamali as being in Libra when it is really in Virgo. This was my mistake, and one I should have caught before now.
Hopefully that is the only mistake we’ve made. The students did the research, with notations and edits by me, developed it into a script, and recorded their parts this last week. We went through each paragraph (and sometimes each sentence) several times to get good takes. I also recorded myself at home doing the second episode, which is on my own take on the Drake Equation. I’ll have that one edited and transcribed by tomorrow evening.
I’ve also ran into a major difficulty in that my laptop’s hard drive died last week and I’ve been trying to recover files and software ever since. The Mac store I went to would only install the system software that originally came on my computer, even though I had upgraded to Snow Leopard. So now much of my software that I’ve reinstalled doesn’t work because I have to wait for the Snow Leopard disk to arrive in the mail to get my OS up to speed. Then there is the whole fiasco with buying Final Cut Studio off of e-Bay only to have it arrive without the installation disks. So I got a refund and have to mail it back tomorrow and wait for my new purchase (hopefully complete this time) to arrive. In the meantime, I’ve been editing these podcasts using iMovie and Audacity – not my first choice, but it is working.
The worst part of losing the hard drive is that I had literally thousands of photos on it from my research at the Chemical Heritage Foundation and from visits I’ve made to mine sites since then that I don’t want to lose, so I will need to pay an extra amount to get the data recovered. Hopefully it can be. Now I know to back up all my photos as well as the video projects I had already backed up.
I hope you enjoy the podcasts. I’ll let you know how the data recovery goes.