Harry Potter in the sky? Bid to inspire young stargazers

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In a campaign to get more young people interested in the universe, The Big Bang Fair in partnership with astronomers at University of Birmingham created ‘Look Up To The Stars’: a new set of constellations representing icons from sport, entertainment, science and activism that children are inspired by today. (AFP/UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM/THE BIG BANG FAIR/HO)
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In a campaign to get more young people interested in the universe, The Big Bang Fair in partnership with astronomers at University of Birmingham created ‘Look Up To The Stars’: a new set of constellations representing icons from sport, entertainment, science and activism that children are inspired by today. (AFP PHOTO/UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM/THE BIG BANG FAIR)
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A new constellation to celebrate British astronaut Tim Peake. In a campaign to get more young people interested in the universe, The Big Bang Fair in partnership with astronomers at University of Birmingham created ‘Look Up To The Stars’: a new set of constellations representing icons from sport, entertainment, science and activism that children are inspired by today. (AFP PHOTO/UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM/THE BIG BANG FAIR)
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A new constellation based on and created to celebrate JK Rowling's fictional boy wizard Harry Potter. In a campaign to get more young people interested in the universe, The Big Bang Fair in partnership with astronomers at University of Birmingham created ‘Look Up To The Stars’: a new set of constellations representing icons from sport, entertainment, science and activism that children are inspired by today.(AFP PHOTO/UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM/THE BIG BANG FAIR)
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A new constellation based on and created to celebrate classic fictional character Paddington Bear. In a campaign to get more young people interested in the universe, The Big Bang Fair in partnership with astronomers at University of Birmingham created ‘Look Up To The Stars’: a new set of constellations representing icons from sport, entertainment, science and activism that children are inspired by today. (AFP PHOTO/UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM/THE BIG BANG FAIR)
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A new constellation based on and created to celebrate Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt. In a campaign to get more young people interested in the universe, The Big Bang Fair in partnership with astronomers at University of Birmingham created ‘Look Up To The Stars’: a new set of constellations representing icons from sport, entertainment, science and activism that children are inspired by today.(AFP PHOTO/UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM/THE BIG BANG FAIR/HO)
Updated 13 December 2017

Harry Potter in the sky? Bid to inspire young stargazers

LONDON: British astronomers have come up with a new set of constellations inspired by modern-day figures such as Harry Potter and Usain Bolt in an attempt to teach children about the layout of the universe.
The eight new constellations in the “Look Up to The Stars” project are the brainchild of The Big Bang Fair, a science education event for young people and astronomers at the University of Birmingham.
The proposals include Harry Potter’s glasses, a tennis racket for Serena Williams, a spaceship for astronaut Tim Peak, a blue whale for naturist David Attenborough and a book in honor of Nobel-winner Malala Yousafzai.
The eight constellations invented are a bid “to get more young people interested in the universe,” The Big Bang Fair said in a statement.
Existing constellations are based on the zodiac and figures from ancient Greek and Roman mythology which “aren’t necessarily proving successful in enticing children today to look up at the stars,” it said.
A survey quoted by The Big Bang Fair found 29 percent of seven to 19-year-olds admitted they would not be able to recognize a single classical constellation.
The survey also found 72 percent of children admitted they had never looked for a constellation at night.
“We really hope these new creations will help people of all ages develop their interest in space and astronomy,” Emma Willett, who led the University of Birmingham research team, said in the statement.


SpaceX Crew Dragon docks with International Space Station

Updated 17 November 2020

SpaceX Crew Dragon docks with International Space Station

  • SpaceX briefly transmitted live images from inside the capsule showing the astronauts in their seats
  • SpaceX is scheduled to launch two more crewed flights for NASA in 2021

WASHINGTON: A SpaceX Crew Dragon carrying four astronauts docked with the International Space Station Monday, the first of what NASA hopes will be many routine missions ending US reliance on Russian rockets.
“Dragon SpaceX, soft capture confirmed,” said an announcer as the capsule completed its 27.5-hour journey at 11:01p.m., with the second part of the procedure, “hard capture,” occurring a few minutes later.
The spacecraft, named “Resilience,” docked autonomously with the space station some 400 kilometers above the Midwestern US state of Ohio.
The crew is comprised of three Americans – Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker – and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi.
Earlier, mission commander Hopkins gave pilot Glover his “gold pin,” a NASA tradition when an astronaut first crosses the 100-kilometer Karman line marking the official boundary of space.
Glover is the first Black astronaut to make an extended stay at the ISS, while Noguchi is the first non-American to fly to orbit on a private spaceship.
The crew joins two Russians and one American aboard the station, and will stay for six months.
Along the way, there was a problem with the cabin temperature control system, but it was quickly solved.
SpaceX briefly transmitted live images from inside the capsule showing the astronauts in their seats, something neither the Russians nor the Americans had done before.
US President-elect Joe Biden hailed the launch on Twitter as a “testament to the power of science and what we can accomplish by harnessing our innovation, ingenuity, and determination,” while President Donald Trump called it “great.”
Vice President Mike Pence, who attended the launch with his wife Karen, called it a “new era in human space exploration in America.”
The Crew Dragon capsule earlier this week became the first spacecraft to be certified by NASA since the Space Shuttle nearly 40 years ago. Its launch vehicle is a reusable SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
At the end of its missions, the Crew Dragon deploys parachutes and then splashes down in water, just as in the Apollo era.
SpaceX is scheduled to launch two more crewed flights for NASA in 2021, including one in the spring, and four cargo refueling missions over the next 15 months.
NASA turned to SpaceX and Boeing after shuttering the checkered Space Shuttle program in 2011, which failed in its main objectives of making space travel affordable and safe.
The agency will have spent more than $8 billion on the Commercial Crew program by 2024, with the hope that the private sector can take care of NASA’s needs in “low Earth orbit” so it is freed up to focus on return missions to the Moon and then on to Mars.
SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk in 2002, leapfrogged its much older rival Boeing, whose program floundered after a failed test of its uncrewed Starliner last year.
But SpaceX’s success won’t mean the US will stop hitching rides with Russia altogether, said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine. The goal is to have an “exchange of seats” between American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts.
Bridenstine also explained it was necessary in case either program was down for a period of time.
The reality, however, is that space ties between the US and Russia – one of the few bright spots in their bilateral relations – have frayed in recent years.
Russia has said it won’t be a partner in the Artemis program to return to the Moon in 2024, claiming the NASA-led mission is too US-centric.
Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s space agency, has also repeatedly mocked SpaceX’s technology, telling a state news agency he was unimpressed with the Crew Dragon’s “rather rough” water landing and saying his agency was developing a methane rocket that will be reusable 100 times.
But the fact that a national space agency feels moved to compare itself to a company arguably validates NASA’s public-private strategy.
SpaceX’s emergence has also deprived Roscosmos of a valuable income stream.
The cost of round-trips on Russian rockets had been rising and stood at around $85 million per astronaut, according to estimates last year.
Presidential transitions are always a difficult time for NASA, and the ascension of Joe Biden in January is expected to be no different.
The agency has yet to receive from Congress the tens of billions of dollars needed to finalize the Artemis program.
Bridenstine has announced that he will step down, to let the new president set his own goals for space exploration.
So far, Biden has not commented on the 2024 timeline.
Democratic party documents say they support NASA’s Moon and Mars aspirations, but also emphasize elevating the agency’s Earth sciences division to better understand how climate change is affecting our planet.