The Backyard Astronomer's Guide

If you're waiting to check out one of our new circulating telescopes, consider Step #2 in the 10 Steps to Successful Stargazing, which is to "befriend a book." Few books are more helpful to new stargazers than The Backyard Astronomer's Guide, by Canadian astronomer and best-selling author Terence Dickinson, (which also has a helpful companion website). This is a good place to start learning how to find your way around the night sky. We've also put together a page of tips to get the most out of your stargazing experience in Ann Arbor.

Behold The Night Sky With Our Newest Circulating Collection: Telescopes!

Good news, everyone! A new circulating collection of Dobsonian telescopes is now available. The Orion Starblast 4.5 Astro Reflector Telescope is an incredibly powerful yet fully accessible scientific instrument, recently described by one library patron as "The best telescope I've ever looked through." That is going to be true for most of us, so reserve your place in line now. This scope's particular strong points are viewing the moon, planets, and star clusters. You can keep them for 2 weeks, which is the perfect amount of time for the moon to pass through some interesting phases.

The telescope collection is brought to you through a partnership with the University Lowbrow Astronomers, a secret society of tinkerers, explorers, and radical craftsmen. Check them out too!

Help us launch our new telescope collection!

Friday, April 27, 2012, 8:30 - 10:00 p.m. -- Leslie Science Center

Join us Friday evening at the Leslie Science Center (1831 Traver Rd. map) as we celebrate Astronomy Day with the launch of our new telescope collection! AADL and Leslie Science Center staff, as well as members of our local amateur astronomy club, the University Lowbrow Astronomers, will be on hand to demonstrate the Library's seven modified Orion StarBlast 4.5 reflector telescopes designed for entry level and intermediate astronomy enthusiasts.

We'll start in the Nature House with coffee, hot chocolate, and a short talk and demonstration by Lowbrow president, Charlie Nielsen; then, weather permitting, we'll move to the sidewalk near the Science Center's parking lot for some stargazing. You can also enter a raffle for several copies of Orion's Starry Night Special Edition software and a chance to be first in line to borrow one of the new scopes! (The telescopes will be available for circulation starting Saturday, April 28, just in time for National Astronomy Day!)

Read more about the telescope collection and check back for upcoming astronomy programs this spring and summer!

Shhh.....A Friendly Introduction To Modern Cryptology With Brett Hemenway, Ph.D.

Thursday March 22, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Cryptography was originally developed to facilitate secret communication. Modern cryptography now encompasses an amazing variety of tasks and cryptographic algorithms which are embedded in a surprising number of everyday devices. From car-keys to metro-cards, from providing anonymous access to preventing satellite collisions the applications of cryptography are growing rapidly.

This lecture by UM Assistant Professor Brett Hemenway will present a history of the development of modern cryptography, along with the ideas and tools needed to provide security in an increasingly complex world. Along the way we'll see some of the successes and failures of modern cryptographic schemes.

Birds of North America Online

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Clangula hyemalis! Ortalis vetula! No, these aren't Harry Potter spells, they are birds -- the Long-tailed Duck and the Plain Chachalaca, scientifically speaking. For a wealth of information on our local feathered friends, be sure to visit the Birds of North America Online database. Created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the American Ornithologists' Union ("Ornithology" is the scientific study of birds), BNA provides information on EVERY species of bird from North America. Photos, videos, and audio recordings of bird calls accompany text descriptions about characteristics, life cycles, habits, and demographic information for each species. This site, which is updated every month, is fabulous for students, bird watchers, budding ornithologists, and lovers of nature.

Access to this and any of our other reference databases and resources is available at every branch of the AADL, as well as from outside the library with a valid AADL library card. For access from an outside location, please sign in to your library account, visit our reference database page, and navigate to the desired resource. To access the Birds of North America Online database, go to the research page, and select Birds of North America Online from the Science & Technology category.

Heads up Middle-High School Science Students!

The 54th Annual Southeast Michigan Science Fair happens on March 9 and 10, 2012 at Washtenaw Community College's Morris Lawrence Building.

If you are in Grades 6, 7 and 8 from any school in the region you are eligible to enter Individual or Team projects in the Middle School Division. If you are in grades 9 through 12 from any school in the region are eligible to enter Individual or Team projects in the High School Division.

To enter your science fair project you must pre-register by Friday, February 17.

The regional Southeastern Michigan Science Fair is affiliated with the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. This event is sponsored by the University of Michigan and Washtenaw Community College in cooperation with public and private schools in the five county regions.

Film Screening & Discussion: City Dark: A Search for Night on a Planet that Never Sleeps

In this award-winning film, filmmaker and amateur astronomer Ian Cheney starts with the deceptively simple question, Do we need to see the stars? City Dark explores the disappearance of darkness and the myriad implications of light pollution, from the deaths of thousands of animals disoriented by city lights to humanity's more abstract disconnect from the wonder of the cosmos hidden from view behind the orange haze of its cities.

In this thoughtful film, Cheney passes over both environmental rants and nostalgic pleas to engage us in a more meditative reflection on our relationship with the night sky with stunning astrophotography and a cast of eclectic scientists, philosophers, historians and lighting designers.

The University Lowbrow Astronomers are co-sponsoring this screening and members of the group will be on hand to answer questions following the film.

City Dark | Tuesday, October 11 | 6:30 p.m. | Downtown Library Multi-Purpose Room

UM Emeritus Professor Charles M. Butter Discusses Art, The Brain And His New Book "Crossing Cultural Borders: Universals In Art And Their Biological Roots"

Monday September 19, 2011: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

How does mental imagery contribute to artistic creativity? Why are balance around the center, expressiveness, ornamentation and symbolic meanings found in the visual art of cultures separated in time and space?

Charles M. Butter suggests that answers to these questions may be found by examining the role of biological evolution in the making and viewing of art. Join us for a fascinating evening as he explores these issues and introduces his new book "Crossing Cultural Borders: Universals in Art and Their Biological Roots." This new book includes 52 works of art from cultures around the world from prehistoric to modern times. The event will include a book signing and books will be on sale.

Charles Butter is Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Michigan. He has taught and performed research on brain, behavior and mental processes for 38 years.

Dr. Howard Markel Discusses His New Book "An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine"

Monday September 12, 2011: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Join us as acclaimed medical historian and UM Professor Dr. Howard Markel discusses his new book - the astonishing account of the years-long cocaine use of Sigmund Freud, young, ambitious neurologist, and William Halsted, the equally young, path finding surgeon. Dr. Markel writes of the physical and emotional damage caused by the then-heralded wonder drug, and how each man ultimately changed the world in spite of it--or because of it. One became the father of psychoanalysis; the other, of modern surgery.

"Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine" has just been released to nationwide acclaim. The New York Times, in their July 24 review, called this new book a "tour de force of scientific and social history." If you enjoy this compelling read, you may want to check out some of his other works.

Books will be on sale at this event, which will also include a book signing.

Birds of North America Online ~ New Ways to Birdwatch @ AADL

A project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Birds of North America Online includes contributions from researchers, citizen scientists, reviewers and editors and image and video galleries showing plumages, behaviors, habitat, nests and eggs, and more. BNA now features recordings of the songs and calls of their species from the extensive collection of Cornell's Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds.

You can access BNA Online 24-hours a day from home through our Database Page. I like putting in keyword terms like "black billed" or "blue throated" and seeing the results. Amazing what great background music bird calls provide to a day indoors.

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