Gravity: Visually Stunning, Prize Winning Film

For an entertaining 90-minute break from Earth, check out the movie Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. "Houston" down below is the voice of Ed Harris. Space is depicted as a very dangerous place -- a New York Times reviewer called this film a "Jack London tale in orbit."
Last night the film won seven (7!) Academy Awards, including best director, best cinematography, and best visual effects.
In the film, Sandra Bullock plays Ryan Stone, a star scientist and mother who has lost her young daughter. George Clooney is a seasoned astronaut. Following an accident, the two are stranded in space, facing daunting challenges such as trying to avoid a lethal storm of debris.
Alfonso Cuaron wrote the script with his son Jonás. Cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki is beyond fabulous. State-of- the- art special effects, both analog and digital, made me feel like I was, yes, floating in space.
Rating is PG 13. Currently at AADL there are 680 requests on 40 copies of the DVD and 437 requests on 30 copies of the Blu-ray. Place your order now!

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, a star exploded and you can see it today!

As reported yesterday, astronomers have detected what appears to be a Type 1a supernova - an exploding white dwarf - in nearby galaxy M82, the closest to us in 40 years. Supernova 2014J, as it's been named, is a little hard to see in small scopes right now, but it's predicted to grow significantly brighter over the next two weeks before it fades away - easy enough to spot in the library's 4.5-inch telescope and even binoculars.

M82, also known as the "Cigar Galaxy" because of its shape, is part of a popular galaxy pair (M81-M82) in a relatively dim region of the constellation Ursa Major, about a fist's width above the bowl of the Big Dipper in the northeastern sky. It's visible by 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. in our region and will be visible throughout the night.

Sky & Telescope has some additional information and star maps to help you find Galaxy M82.

Northern Lights Visible Thursday Night Over Michigan

You may have heard on the local news that the northern lights might be visible tonight due to a solar flare that occurred on Tuesday. If typical winter lake effect cloud cover dissipates then the lights will be able to be seen. If you’re typically early to bed then you might miss the show as the best viewing times are between midnight and four a.m.

If you’d like to learn more about how solar wind particles, magnetic fields and gases in the atmosphere interact to cause an aurora you can check out some books the library has on the subject.

Check out a Telescope!

Did you know the library has telescopes for checkout? If this news tickles your astronomer's fancy, take a look at the Quick Start Comic to see how it works. And check out some viewing tips to see what's in the skies in our area. You can put your name on the Hold list for a two week checkout or, if you can't wait for your name to come up, you may find one in Up For Grabs, a first-come first-served collection with a one week checkout, available at all branches.

And if you missed Comet ISON, don't despair! If ISON survives its pass by the sun on November 28, it'll be back around the other side in December. Look for it near the sun just before sunrise.

Mary Stewart Adams on Diane Rehm Tuesday

Mary Stewart Adams, director of the Headlands International Dark Sky Park in Michigan, will be one of four panelists on the 11:00 segment of the Diane Rehm show today. Panelists will be talking about combatting light pollution. We spoke with Stewart last year about her mission to preserve the stories of the stars and the dark skies in Michigan, and she'll be back again at AADL December 14, for an exhibit and another evening of star lore - just in time for the appearance of comet ISON.

Locus Magazine announces the winners of the 2013 LOCUS Awards

Locus Magazine, the monthly magazine for the latest news and reviews in the world of science fiction, fantasy, and horror literature, has announced its 2013 winners.

John Scalzi received the Locus for Science Fiction Novel for Redshirts. At first, Ensign Andrew Dahl is enjoying serving aboard the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid until he realizes a horrifying pattern. All journeys involve deadly confrontations with aliens and its the lower ranking crew members who are at risk. Listen to Wil Wheaton read the audiobook version.

The Fantasy Novel award went to Charles Stross, for The Apocalypse Codex. The Laundry, Britain's highly secretive intelligence agency charged to protect the Queen and the realm from occult intrusions, employs the beautiful, volatile Persephone Hazard to investigate U.S. televangelist/healer, Ray Schiller. Gideon Emery narrates the audiobook.

The Young Adult award went to China Mieville for Railsea, a hugely imaginative mix of steampunk, cyberpunk, and a fantastical spin on Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Sham is an apprentice to the doctor serving the railsea train Medes. Sham is excited to be on his first hunt for moldywarpes, gigantic moles who live beneath the earth, erupting to the surface in life-and-death battles with all who track them down.

The Non-fiction award was given to William Gibson for his collection of essays in Distrust that Particular Flavor, 30 years of thoughtful pieces about the past, present, and future as influenced by technology.

The Art Book award was bestowed on Spectrum 19: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art. According to the publisher, "With exceptional images by extraordinary creators, this elegant full-color collection showcases an international cadre of creators working in every style and medium, both traditional and digital"

For a complete list of the winners, check out this link.

AADL Talks to Terence Dickinson

Terence Dickinson, editor of Canada's SkyNews magazine and author of the internationally bestselling Nighwatch: A Practical Guide to the Universe and The Backyard Astronomer's Guide, was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1995—that nation's highest civilian achievement award—for his commitment in popularizing the wonders of astronomy. During his visit in November 2012, Terence sat down to talk with me and Clay Kessler of Telescope Support Systems.

Terence discusses his long career communicating the wonders of the night sky to the public and the importance of discovering and pursuing his childhood passion. He also talks about the loss of dark skies; how to pick a telescope; and he recalls the moment he saw his first full-blown Hubble image of a galaxy.

Dickinson's latest book is 2012's Hubble's Universe: Greatest Discoveries and Latest Images.

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AADL_Talks_To-Terence_Dickinson.mp3 26.3 MB

Sir Patrick Moore, astronomer, has died

England's Sir Patrick Moore has died at the age of 89. For 55 years, the entertaining, monocled people's astronomer introduced viewers to the wonders of the night sky as host of the popular series, The Sky at Night, making this the longest-running TV series in the world with the same host. And oh, what a host. Moore delighted with his ill-fitting suits, his raised eyebrow, and his fervent discourses on astronomy, which he could deliver at 300 word per minute.

His passion began at the age of 7 with a book on the solar system. By the age of 13 the self-taught Moore was publishing papers on the moon's surface based on detailed observations made through his first 3-inch telescope. After serving with the RAF during WWII, he built his own telescope and made further detailed drawings of the moon which were later used by NASA as part of the preparations made for the 1960s-70s moon landings. A first book on the moon soon followed, after which writing took over his life. He produced some 70 books in his lifetime, including this year's The New Astronomy Guide: Star Gazing in the Digital Age.

Beyond astronomy, Moore held a deep passion for cricket and music - notably the xylophone, which he often played in public. And in one historic encounter, Moore played piano while his musical partner, Albert Einstein, played the violin.

Red Planet Day - November 28th

Did you know that November 28th is Red Planet Day? Spacecraft Mariner 4 launched on November 28, 1964, and during its eight-month voyage it collected the first ever up-close images of Mars!

Exciting developments from the Mars rover "Curiosity" mission are to be announced in December, so now is a great time to read up on the fourth planet from the sun. From our catalog, check out The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must for adults, Mars for children, or the documentary Can We Make It To Mars?, part of the PBS Nova scienceNOW series. Just for fun, try the Edgar Rice Burroughs' science fiction series John Carter of Mars.

Find out more about Mars by visiting NASA's Mars Exploration Program website.

Teen Stuff: Young Naturalist Awards Offer Cash Prizes

The Young Naturalist Awards is an annual contest put on by the American Museum of Natural History that encourages scientists in grades 7 - 12 to explore a natural science question by making observations and reporting their findings. It is an essay contest that is designed like a scientific study, focusing on the fields of Biology, Ecology, Earth Science and/or Astronomy.

Entries may be submitted on the AMNH website from December 1, 2012 to March 1, 2013. Twelve cash awards, two for each grade level, will be awarded to the authors of the winning essays. The winning entries will be published on the Museum's website. Up to 36 finalists will receive a cash award of $50 and a certificate of recognition. Up to 200 semifinalists will receive a non-cash award and a certificate of recognition. The teachers of the top twelve winners will receive classroom resources and a free Seminars on Science course.

The AADL has many resources for those looking to enter the contest, including books on studying nature and exploring space and astronomy. We also have the Academic OneFile database available at all of our branches and available remotely to AADL cardholders, where you can find articles from many peer-reviewed journals in science, social science, and the arts for in-depth, scholarly research. The Stapp Nature Area is a great place to observe nature and it is adjacent to our Traverwood Branch.

For more information about the Young Naturalist Awards, including Rules & Regulations, How to Get Started and much more, please visit their website.

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