Category Archives: News

You Are Here! It’s Earth Day!

We live in a tiny place in the middle of a vast emptiness. Our rocky planet orbits an average-sized home star at an almost unimaginable distance of 93 million miles.The fastest spacecraft in history, as of this writing, are Helios I and II; at their peak speeds of over 150,000mph, they’d take three and a half weeks to make the trip– one way. Even light, so fast that to the human eye it appears to travel instantaneously, takes more than eight minutes to reach Earth from the sun.

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The scope of this image is absolutely incredible. It shows four entire clusters of galaxies colliding! Credit: NASA/ESA.

Beyond our solar system, the space between objects scales up exponentially. Light takes eight minutes to travel from the sun to Earth; it takes more than four years to reach us from Proxima Centauri, the next-closest star. This stellar neighbor, like our own sun, is one of hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way galaxy– which is one of hundreds of billions of galaxies spread throughout the observable universe. Our closest neighbor galaxy, Andromeda, is two and a half million light-years away, and contains about ten times as many stars as the Milky Way. By order-of-magnitude estimates, there are more stars in the cosmos than there are grains of sand on Earth.

This planet is a small home in an immense universe, but it’s probably far from unique. Our knowledge of other, relatively Earth-like planets has exploded in recent years thanks to the Kepler telescope. This space-based giant surveys the sky near the constellation Cygnus, looking for dips in the brightness of stars between a few hundred and a few thousand light-years away. If the same star dims by the same amount at least three times at regular intervals, an orbiting planet is likely to be blocking some of its light.

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The Kepler Space Telescope’s field of view. Credit: NASA.

Since its launch in 2009, Kepler has directly observed 2,700 planet candidates. Keep in mind that this telescope scans just one-quarter of one percent of the night sky, chosen for its conveniently observable location. We have no reason to believe that this patch of sky is particularly rich in planets or otherwise special. If there are 2,700 planets in this tiny field of view, it’s likely that the whole sky hides over a million! With so many exoplanets out there, some will probably have habitable conditions.

The question of whether another Earth exists is, however, mostly an academic one. At this stage in history, humanity is taking baby steps towards visiting (and eventually colonizing) another rock in our own solar system: Mars. It seems to be an achievable goal, and organizations like NASA have outlined plans to make it a reality within a handful of decades. The spacecraft and life support systems necessary for such a trip are currently being developed and tested.

Earth Day - PaleBlueDot

Earth from four billion miles away, as seen by the Voyager 1 spacecraft. This iconic image inspired Carl Sagan’s description of Earth as “a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” Credit: NASA.

At its shortest, the journey from Earth to Mars covers about 55 million miles. The closest known exoplanets are millions of times farther away, well outside the reach of foreseeable space travel technology. A visit to our red neighbor planet represents a physically small step into space, but nonetheless a monumental development in our species’ practical abilities. Until that happens, this pale blue dot in space, as Sagan famously said, is where we make our stand.

Cover Photo Credit: NASA

Written By: Caela Barry

How Do You Pack for Camp?

We hope you enjoyed our silly video on how we at the Guided Discoveries office pack for camp. Now, we need your help!!!We want you to put together a silly, creative, short video on how and/or what you pack for camp. The video should be no longer than one minute and no shorter than 6 seconds. Your video might be shown on any or all of our social media platforms. Please email your videos to Alisa VinZant at alisa@gdi.org. If you have any questions, please call 1-800-625-1423.

If you don’t want to or you don’t like doing videos then there is another option for you to win. We want to know why camp is important to you? How camp has made a difference in your life? What do you love about it and why do you keep coming back? Basically, what does camp mean to you! Please write your answers in paragraph form. You are welcome to write as little or as much as you wish!

Again, please send all videos and what camp means to you paragraphs to Alisa VinZant at alisa@gdi.org. Please call 1-800-625-1423 if you have any questions or concerns. All entries must be received by May 22, 2015. Happy taping and writing! We look forward to seeing you at camp soon!!!

Gear Up for Summer Giveaway

We are excited to announce the Gear Up for Summer Giveaway! Check out what you can win.

AstroCamp Gear Up for Summer Giveaway prize includes an AstroCamp hoodie, t-shirt, frisbee, and water bottle, AstroCamp created 3D Print, fun science t-shirt, as well as a large poster and NASA Goodies. AstroCamp instructors not included.

You can earn entires by registering for camp, writing a camp review, submitting Throwback Thursday Photos or commenting on our blog post. Please take a look at the contest and feel free to make multiple entries to increase your chances! Prizes can only be delivered to those within the United States and photos submitted will be shared on AstroCamp Social Media sites. Fun science t-shirt and poster sizes and pictures vary. When submitting photos please email them to Alisa VinZant at alisa.gdi.org. Happy contest entering and Good Luck!

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Happy Thanksgiving

Today at Guided Discoveries we are thankful for so many things. Thank you to Ross and Kristi Turner who started it all over 35 years ago. Please watch these videos to find out just a few of the things we are thankful for at AstroCamp and CIMI. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

CIMI

ASTROCAMP

WELCOME TO ASTRO BLOG

We would like to thank you for visiting our blog. AstroCamp is a hands-on physical science program with an emphasis on astronomy and space exploration. Our classes and activities are designed to inspire students toward future success in their academic and personal pursuits. This blog is intended to provide you with up-to-date news and information about our camp programs, as well as current science and astronomical happenings. This blog has been created by our staff who have at least a Bachelors Degree in Physics or Astronomy, however it is not uncommon for them to have a Masters Degree or PhD. We encourage you to also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and Vine to see even more of our interesting science, space and astronomy information. Feel free to leave comments, questions, or share our blog with others. Please visit www.astrocampsummer.org for additional information. Happy Reading!

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