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Astronomer Dr. Isabel Hawkins's journey to the stars began with two chance moments of enchantment with celestial bodies in her native Argentina. Inspired by the mystery of the sky, she went on to study physics and astronomy in California and then to work for 20 years as a research astronomer at UC Berkeley. Now retired from research and devoted to inciting a love of the stars and sky in young people, Dr. Hawkins reflects on her own initial moments of inspiration, on sharing her love of stars with others, and on how astronomy can, and should, remind us of our connection to one another, under a canopy of mystery.
While in the field, the Exploratorium Eclipse remote team had a love/hate relationship with the clouds. The cloudscape of the Weizi Gorge was so spectacular it was easy to overlook that our fluffy friends could have potentially blocked our main reason for lugging 1700 lbs. of gear out to the edge of the Gobi Desert-the total solar eclipse! This is a short time-lapse video of the sky at our camp one day before the eclipse. Why do the hands on clocks go "clockwise?" Seems like a circular definition, but if you looked closely at sundials in the northern hemisphere, you'd notice that the shadow of the sun moves around the sundial in a "clockwise" direction. This was adopted by clock-makers and became the standard we know today.
In the southern hemisphere, the sun's shadow moves around the dial in the opposite direction, so if clocks had been invented there, our watches would move the other way. On August 1, 2008, a total solar eclipse occurred as the new moon moved directly between the sun and the earth. The moon's umbral shadow fell on parts of Canada, Greenland, the Arctic Ocean, Russia, Mongolia, and China. The Exploratorium's eclipse expedition team (our fifth!) Webcast the eclipse live from the remote Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwestern China near the Mongolian border. Join Exploratorium staff Paul Doherty and Robyn Higdon as they discuss the Transit of Mercury. On November 8, 2006, Mercury slowly slid across the face of the sun during a relatively rare event known as a transit. The Exploratorium's Live@ crew was at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona to cover the event. This webcast includes a brief history of Kitt Peak and its 21 telescopes. On March 29, 2006, a total solar eclipse occurred as the moon moved directly between the earth and the sun. The moon's shadow fell on the earth, first darkening the eastern tip of Brazil, and then moved across the Atlantic Ocean to make landfall in Ghana, Africa. It continued moving northeast through Nigeria, Niger, Libya, Egypt, across the Mediterranean and into Turkey, where an Exploratorium team was waiting. Celebrate the spring equinox at the Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá, in the state of Yucatan, Mexico. The alignment of the sun on this day creates the appearance of a shadow, in the form of a serpent, that descends the main staircase of the great pyramid. The Live@Exploratorium crew is there to capture the snake on film and to speak with local archaeologists, archeoastronomers, and solar scientists about this amazing phenomenon. Join the Live@ crew and NASA scientists as we delve into the ancient knowledge of the Chacoans, daily sky watchers who amassed a great knowledge about the movements of the sun. And learn why today's astronomers and solar physicists continue to watch the sun, using modern ground-based observatories and orbiting space telescopes. Join us in Chaco Canyon to think about what we can learn from watching shadows.