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April, 2013


by Larry

Who has not felt awe and curiosity before the vast scope and phenomena of space? Radio listeners in central TX find it easy to enjoy such moments thanks to the University of Texas station KUT's daily dose of StarDate, a space-based radio essay read daily by its host, Sandy Wood. Others can have their own cosmological radio essay fixes at a cost of $30 a year, the readings broadcast via the internet on smart phones or computers, by subscribing through the StarDate website.

Alternatively, one can simply go to the website, read the daily StarDate essay there, and appreciate as well the newest astronomy photos that often are used to illustrate the pieces. On 4/19/13, for instance, the topic "Coma Galaxy Cluster" was accompanied by a Hubble photo of these multiple distant galaxies.

NASA Hubble image NGC 604
Besides the opportunity to subscribe to StarDate readings, the site offers hardcopy or digital versions of "StarDate Magazine," possibly a nice gift idea. It comes out in six issues a year at a charge of $26 ($38 for both versions) and includes astronomy news, sky watching tips, neat space images, and more.

For budding young astronomers in one's family or classroom, the StarDate site features daily glossaries of new space-related words plus science curriculum lesson plans, downloadable teacher guides, and fun classroom astronomy activities. Teachers can also arrange to attend special workshops and tours at the University of Texas McDonald Observatory, in Davis, TX. Further, "Project Share" offerings of multimedia curricula are available.

One can usefully explore the StarDate website for other samplings of interest, such as stargazing tips. Here we learn that on the night of 4/21/13, for instance, the Lyrid meteor shower will be at its most entertaining, though we are likely to have less than ideal viewing thanks to a full moon.

The Astro Guide section includes photos of comets, moons, Saturn's rings, meteorites, the sun, asteroids, galaxies, cool illustrations of cosmological phenomena, quasars, Earth and other planets, and so on.

Whether one wishes just a one-time visit to an online astronomy museum or regular educational features about space, there is plenty on offer at StarDate.

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