Comments on:

The essential guide to astronomy / All Sky & Telescope (www.skyandtelescope.com) content is copyrighted. Please contact us for reuse permissions.

Frost Science

FaviconTop 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Sharks 25 Jul 2018, 7:07 pm

© Zach Ransom Photography

Gazing up through the 31-foot oculus lens into the Gulf Stream Aquarium gives you an unmatched view of one of the world’s most powerful ocean currents on the planet, home to one of the ocean’s apex predators: sharks.

In honor of the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week celebrating 30 years on air, we’re counting down our top five favorite shark facts. Our very own Andy Dehart, Vice President of Animal Husbandry and Marine Conversation, is a shark expert and has been featured in numerous Shark Week productions on the Discovery Channel as a Shark Advisor.

Count ‘em Out

There are over 400 species of sharks in the world. Sounds like a lot? Well, there’s nine different species of hammerheads alone! At Frost Science, our Gulf Stream Aquarium is home to scalloped hammerhead sharks.

Biggies and Smalls

Sharks have quite the range, but more than half of all shark species will never be larger than three feet long. The largest shark? That’s the whale shark, they can reach lengths of up to 40 feet! On the other end of the scale, dwarf lantern sharks only get as big as eight inches.

The Odds are in Your Favor

Did Jaws scare you? This should ease your fears… Shark bites are actually rare, there’s less than 100 shark bites reported globally each year. Of those bites, only about five are fatal.

There’s a Catch

Sharks should fear us far more than we should fear them. Annually, humans are responsible for the deaths of over 73 million sharks across the globe. That’s about 200,000 sharks per day, or 8,333 per hour. The main culprits? Targeted fishing of sharks and bycatch, where sharks get trapped while other seafood is being fished.

Skin of the Teeth

Shark skin is actually covered in dermal denticles. Instead of resembling fish scales, sharks have what more closely resembles modified teeth. The silky sharks in our Gulf Stream Aquarium stand out for more than just their beauty—they got their name because their skin is significantly smoother than other shark species.

Despite their power, sharks are no match for humans. Sharks are slow to mature and have fewer offspring than other commercial fish like tuna, snapper or grouper. Visit Frost Science to learn more about sharks, and the work we’re doing to ensure they are protected.

The post Top 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Sharks appeared first on Frost Science.

Favicon1,000,000 Visitors…and Counting! 20 Jun 2018, 12:51 pm

Today, Wednesday, June 20, 2018, the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in Downtown Miami’s Museum Park welcomed its one millionth visitor since opening on May 8, 2017. Over the past year, Frost Science has continuously transformed the visitor experience including new exhibitions, special events and programming, along with new educational offerings such as enhanced field trips, camps, overnights and more.

“With the hard work of our team and the support of our community, we are proud to meet this milestone and welcome our one millionth visitor within 13 months of our opening,” said Frost Science President and CEO Frank Steslow. “Frost Science has been welcomed with open arms by residents and guests alike and we are certainly proud of the accomplishments we have made. Together, we have laid the foundation for science-learning and discovery in Miami-Dade County. We will continue to offer new and novel ways for our community to explore the power of science.”

“When we opened the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, it was the fruition of a vision to provide our Miami-Dade County residents and visitors access to a world-class, state-of-the-art science museum,” says Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez. “A year later, as the museum welcomes its millionth visitor, that vision is fulfilled and we are excited to see that our community has been taking advantage of this great place that educates children and families on science and technology in fun, inspiring and innovative ways! I am proud of the technological and educational contributions Frost Science makes to our community and wish them much continued success.”

8I9A1594

To mark the occasion, the one-millionth visitor, Gisel De Renzo, along with her family, was surprised with a 7-night Caribbean cruise courtesy of Royal Caribbean International. Gisel De Renzo also won a Frost Science gift bag with branded items, a $100 gift card to Frost Science and “1 million minutes of science” (a two-year Family PLUS level membership). Gisel De Renzo then went on to enjoy a special museum experience including an animal encounter. Within the hour of the one millionth visitor, all museum guests enjoyed complimentary snacks by local donut shop, Happy Place Donuts, and a special Frost Science giveaway.

“Culture and education serve as necessary ingredients for the City of Miami to evolve into a truly global city. Thanks to institutions like Frost Science, Miami offers both,” said City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. “This vibrant museum attracts visitors from all over the world and engages them through fascinating exhibitions, adding yet another layer to Miami’s array of unique activities. By welcoming their one-millionth visitor, Frost Science validates its value as a key player in helping us expand our global reach and enhance our status as a thriving national and international destination.”

Frost Science has welcomed several groundbreaking special exhibitions to its campus since opening, including The Power of Poison: From the Depths of the Sea to Your Own Backyard, SPACE: An Out-of-Gravity Experience, BRAIN: The Inside Story, Monster Fish: In Search of the Last River Giants, SEEING: What Are You Looking At? and The Mechanicals. The museum has continued to grow with supporting grants and generous donations from foundations and corporate partners. Frost Science also had a record-breaking day during the total solar eclipse in August, welcoming over 8,500 guests to experience this once-in-a-lifetime event. Throughout the year, Frost Science has hosted distinguished guests and notable speakers including Cara Santa Maria, Nick Uhas, Dr. Wallace J. Nichols and more.

8I9A1628

“With the opening of the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, alongside the Arsht Center and Pérez Art Museum Miami, Miami’s cultural hub is nearly complete,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president of The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a major funder of all three institutions. “Frost Science is a major part of a cultural attraction that is drawing the world, and a multimedia learning space that lets thousands of school children a year engage hands-on with science.”

“The opening of the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science has further elevated the appeal of Miami and its attractions, which are among the most unique and exotic in the world,” says William D. Talbert, III, CDME, President & CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. “From its magnificent design and stunning waterfront location on Biscayne Bay to its exceptional exhibits and programming, visitors from around the globe are eager to experience Frost Science’s extraordinary offerings.”

The post 1,000,000 Visitors…and Counting! appeared first on Frost Science.

FaviconUsing the Power of Nature to Fight the Effects of Sea Level Rise 18 Jun 2018, 1:52 pm

South Florida is blessed with water. With an ocean to its east and south and the largest freshwater wetland in North America located to the west, it’s a veritable aquatic paradise. Come rainy season, water comes from the skies as well, with our frequent rains providing ample water for drinking, irrigation and aquatic activities.

But too much of it, particularly from the ocean, can stress our coastal integrity and threaten our very existence. Florida has more residents at risk from the consequences of climate change than any other U.S. state. Globally, South Florida faces the highest risk from the effects of sea level rise in terms of the potential loss of billions of dollars of infrastructure. Sea level rise implies a host of effects that go beyond rising sea levels, including flash floods, urban heat, sea water intrusion into the aquifer and beach erosion.

The gloomiest predictions are based on inaction and continuing a “business as usual” mentality. But the situation isn’t hopeless—in fact, it’s one we can tackle as a community. The more we do and the better we adapt, the softer the landing.

Sea levels are rising in South Florida about six times faster than the worldwide average, yet Miami residents point to a lack of information and a shortage of opportunities to make a positive difference. Frost Science’s Museum Volunteers for the Environment (MUVE) initiative engages local residents by restoring living coastlines. This restoration helps protect their communities and enables individuals to take ownership of adapting to climate change.

Yet, perhaps the best tool in Frost Science’s arsenal is the ability to inform and engage thousands of visitors through original exhibitions. Frost Science was built with a special feature called “flexible furniture.” With plumbing and electricity built into the floor of The Dive level of our Aquarium, we are able to change many of our table top exhibits. Just like a changing coastline, this allows us to continually offer new content to our visitors.

Recently, Wells Fargo, via the National Fish and Wildlife Resilient Cities program, in partnership with the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County, recognized this attribute with a major grant to Frost Science. The funding will help restore three living shorelines around Greater Miami while giving Frost Science the ability to create a series of original flexible exhibits that explain how local coastal ecosystems are protecting us from sea level rise. These exhibits are going live this month in conjunction with The Power of Poison: From the Depth of the Sea to Your Own Backyard and Da Vinci – Inventions special exhibitions.

sea-level-rise1

The first sea level rise-themed table top exhibits touch on the power of living shorelines (think: mangroves and dunes instead of seawalls) to protect inland areas from sea level rise and storm surge. We’ve all seen the images of sea walls being breached by waves during Hurricane Irma, rendering them useless. Green shorelines use their living structures to anchor sand in place (dunes), stay above the water through elevated roots (mangroves) and diminish the power of waves using their leaves and roots (saltwater grasses).

2 - Dune roots at Virginia Key North Point. Credit Dr. Rivah Winter

But the power of native habitats actually starts offshore, where coral reefs can absorb up to 97% of the power of incoming waves. Taken together, it’s hard not to appreciate these “hard-working habitats.”

Other table top exhibits feature our new Topo Box, an interactive, 3D topographic map that enables visitors to create their own landscapes and shorelines—from snow-capped mountains to the deep sea. Wiggling fingers overhead creates rainstorms, allowing visitors to explore how water moves through the environment and how large weather events might affect areas impacted by sea level rise.

In addition to the Topo Box, the Science Portal allows you to see live video, images and data feeds from research projects around the world. You can also use it to sign up as a MUVE volunteer.

sea-level-rise4

Humans and nature are working together to help South Florida adapt to sea level rise. Plan a visit to Frost Science and see for yourself!

The post Using the Power of Nature to Fight the Effects of Sea Level Rise appeared first on Frost Science.

FaviconPushing Back Against Poison 6 Jun 2018, 4:42 pm

As part of the museum’s #ToxinTakeoverMiami, we invited Wendy Stephan of the Florida Poison Information Center-Miami to share her insight.

As educator and epidemiologist for the regional poison control center in South Florida, I get an inside view into the fascinating world of poison. My training in public health (and experience as a parent) have been great preparation for my work educating on an always-changing array of hazards. About a week after I started work at our center at Jackson Memorial Hospital/University of Miami Medical Center, I arrived to find my colleagues in hazmat suits. It turned out to be a drill for the hospital’s decontamination team, but I did briefly wonder if every day at the poison center would be so exciting!

For the most part, the 55 poison centers around the U.S. see similar poisonings from day to day. Why? Every Target or Walmart carries the same cleaners and cosmetics. Prescription-strength and over-the-counter medications are also comparable in Miami or Minneapolis. But locally, we do have some unique poisons that stump even doctors. Among the 250 calls we process each day, we might treat tropical marine poisonings, exposures to exotic plants, and/or herbal concoctions from around the world.

Imagine licking an ice cream cone and having it burn your tongue. Or walking across a tile floor that feels like it’s on fire. These odd sensations are a tell-tale symptom of ciguatera fish poisoning. Ciguatera results from eating a reef fish containing a high concentration of a powerful neurotoxin. Besides “reversal of hot and cold” sensations, ciguatera can also cause diarrhea, vomiting, muscle aches and weakness. If not treated within the first 72 hours, symptoms can last for weeks or even months.

You might think a plant called “angel’s trumpet” would be harmlessly pretty. Not so. People who eat this plant (or sip a tea from its leaves) may find out the hard way that this plant is a killer. Most of the deaths from Brugmansia in the United States occur in our area. Symptoms can include rapid heart rate, hallucinations, increased body temperature, dilated eyes, and flushed face. Our hot weather makes it more likely that victims will dangerously dehydrate and not survive.

Have you ever taken a supplement to stay healthy? One case we treated involved the consumption of a liquid brought from Asia known as “snake wine.” Yes, there was a snake, unknown herbs (and a scorpion!) marinating in bottle of wine in the photo snapped at a local emergency room. Apparently, the person who sipped this supposed cancer preventive was not feeling well at all!

But our work is not all weird or dramatic. Early in my role as educator, I asked Earlene, one of our poison specialists, if she was treating anything exciting. She smiled kindly and said, “No, it’s been the best sort of day – I’ve gotten to tell my callers that everything’s going to be just fine.” As darkly fascinating as work at the poison center can be, she reminded me of the best part of our job – providing accurate information and reassurance to our callers, every day.

poison-control

For more information about Florida’s Poison Control Centers visit our table every weekend at Frost Science, www.floridapoisoncontrol.org, or call 1-800-222-1222 for immediate assistance with any poisoning or poison-related question.

The Power of Poison is on view through Monday, September 3, 2018 inside the Hsiao Family Special Exhibition Gallery on the first floor of the museum. The exhibition is supported locally by Jackson Health System and Florida Poison Information Center-Miami. The Power of Poison is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York (www.amnh.org).

The post Pushing Back Against Poison appeared first on Frost Science.

FaviconMUVE Joins Forces with FedEx Volunteers to Restore Critical Virginia Key Ecosystem 31 May 2018, 2:04 pm

On a rainy Saturday morning, over 20 volunteers from FedEx joined Museum Volunteers for the Environment (MUVE) for a very wet coastal restoration day. Despite the downpour on May 19, volunteers of all ages helped plant around 400 plants at a restoration site on Virginia Key.

muve-fedex2

This site, which has been nicknamed “The Gap,” has been undergoing restoration since the end of last year. Located in Virginia Key North Point, the gap was a former access path covered in residual invasive vegetation and debris. With the help of the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County, invasive species (such as scaevola and Australian pine) were removed from the area before it was flattened for optimal planting. Once cleared, volunteers were needed to quickly stop invasive plants from coming back.

We identified an area at the top of the dune that was suitable for native plant species to thrive—such as beach creeper, coco plum and saw palmetto—and help the dune from eroding during heavy summer rains. Enter: our FedEx volunteers. This hardworking group dug into the sand and tough rocky terrain to plant over 125 of these plants in record time.

muve-fedex4

Next, FedEx volunteers moved down the dune to plant sea oats. This native species helps create living shorelines by stabilizing sandy areas through their deep roots. In order to plant the sea oats successfully, volunteers first removed the invading ragweed plants that were covering the sand. In its place, volunteers placed sea oat plugs which will quickly grow and out compete the ragweed. Even when it began to rain, volunteers were determined to continue establishing the plants into the dune and planted over 250 sea oats.

Another group of helpers noticed a large amount of debris littering the coastline. Using the marine debris tracker app, FedEx volunteers became citizen scientists by removing and recording the types of debris they found while cleaning the beach. This beach is an active sea turtle nesting area. By removing debris, not only does the beach become more visually appealing, we create less obstacles for these and other protected animals to move around and thrive.

muve-fedex3

Since 2011, FedEx and the Frost Science have been working together to restore subtropical forests in South Florida through the FedEx Cares program with National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. These volunteers are helping to improve our public lands by making them more wildlife friendly and bringing them closer to their native characteristics—which naturally helps protect South Florida during storms. Since Virginia Key North Point has been a restoration project, there has been a decrease in erosion and an increase in native animals such as water fowl and American crocodiles. We are now witnessing one of Miami’s most historical beaches become an inviting environment for both people and nature.

muve-fedex1

The post MUVE Joins Forces with FedEx Volunteers to Restore Critical Virginia Key Ecosystem appeared first on Frost Science.

StarDate Online - Your guide to the universe

FaviconMoon and Jupiter 16 Aug 2018, 1:00 am

One of the big moons of Jupiter may be an ideal place to cool off on a hot summer afternoon — it appears to be shooting a spray of cold water out into space. That provides more confirmation that an ocean lies below the moon’s icy crust — a possible home for life.

Europa is a bit bigger than our own moon. But the two worlds are nothing alike. The surface of Europa consists of ice. It’s divided into large plates and rafts. That arrangement resembles the ice that floats atop the oceans here on Earth. That suggests that the ice on Europa also floats atop an ocean. If so, it could have all the ingredients for life.

What’s more, Hubble Space Telescope has seen evidence of water squirting into space from Europa, possibly spraying through cracks in the crust.

And earlier this year, a team reported more evidence of water plumes. The scientists recently looked through 20-year-old observations by the Galileo spacecraft, which orbited Jupiter. And they found some unusual readings: a blip in the magnetic field, and some odd radio waves. Those readings came as Galileo flew through one of the possible plumes reported by Hubble. And they matched models of what the craft should see if it flew through a spray of water.

Combined with the other evidence, they strongly suggest that Europa has a vast ocean hidden beneath its icy crust.

And Jupiter appears near our moon tonight. The planet looks like a brilliant star to the lower left of the Moon.


Script by Damond Benningfield

StarDate: 
Thursday, August 16, 2018
Teaser: 
A cool spray from a cold moon

FaviconMoon and Jupiter 16 Aug 2018, 1:00 am

Jupiter appears near the Moon tonight. The giant planet looks like a brilliant star to the lower left of the Moon. Zubenelgenubi, one of the brightest stars of Libra, is just a fraction of a degree below Jupiter.

FaviconMoon and Spica 15 Aug 2018, 1:00 am

To the eye alone, Spica is one of the 15 brightest stars in the night sky. It’s about 2,000 times brighter than the Sun, and it looks white with a hint of blue.

When you look at Spica with special instruments, though, it’s even more impressive. It consists of two stars, not one. Both are much bigger and heavier than the Sun. And when you add up all wavelengths of light, they shine about 20,000 times brighter than the Sun.

Most of that energy is in the ultraviolet — wavelengths that are much too short for the human eye. Spica’s two stars produce so much of it because their surfaces are tens of thousands of degrees hotter than the Sun.

In fact, the type of energy a star emits depends almost entirely on its surface temperature. And so does the star’s color. To the eye alone, the hottest stars look blue. But they emit huge amounts of ultraviolet. The coolest stars look orange or red. They emit huge amounts of infrared light — wavelengths that are too long for the human eye.

Stars in the middle of the temperature scale shine white or yellow. They emit most of their light at visible wavelengths. So with a star like the Sun, we see most of the energy it produces — light that’s at just the right wavelengths for the human eye.

And Spica is in good view this evening, below the Moon. They’re flanked by two bright planets. Jupiter, the giant of the solar system, is to the upper left, with Venus, the “evening star,” to the lower right.


Script by Damond Benningfield

StarDate: 
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Teaser: 
Heating up a beautiful star

FaviconMoon and Spica 15 Aug 2018, 1:00 am

Spica, the brightest star of Virgo, stands below the Moon this evening. They’re flanked by two bright planets. Jupiter, the giant of the solar system, is to the upper left, with Venus, the “evening star,” to the lower right.

FaviconMore Moon and Venus 14 Aug 2018, 1:00 am

Until Nicolaus Copernicus demonstrated otherwise, most people thought Earth was the center of the universe. And that wasn’t an unreasonable idea. The Sun, Moon, and stars all appear to circle around us, so it looks like we’re right in the middle of things.

The only problem was the planets. Some of them periodically reverse direction across the sky. And Venus and Mercury don’t go all the way across the sky. They climb part of the way into the morning sky, then double back into the evening sky. That’s hard to explain if everything is circling around Earth.

The explanation, of course, is that they don’t circle around Earth — and neither does anything else except the Moon. The planets all orbit the Sun. Some of them are outside Earth’s orbit, so they swing all the way across the sky. But Mercury and Venus lie inside Earth’s orbit, so they have a limited motion across the sky.

And in fact, Venus is at the limit of that motion over the next few nights. It’s farthest from the Sun for its current “evening star” appearance — about 45 degrees. By the end of the week, it’ll start sliding toward the Sun.

Because of the angle at which Venus sets at this time of year, though, it doesn’t look very far from the Sun. It’s quite low in the west as night falls; tonight, it’s below the crescent Moon. The planet doesn’t drop straight down toward the horizon. Instead, it slides along the horizon as it descends — a world that orbits the Sun, not Earth.


Script by Damond Benningfield

StarDate: 
Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Teaser: 
Putting Venus in its place

ESOcast HD

ESOcast is a video podcast series dedicated to bringing you the latest news and research from ESO, the European Southern Observatory. Here we explore the Universe's ultimate frontier with our host Doctor J, a.k.a. Dr. Joe Liske.

FaviconESOcast 174 Light: Elliptical Elegance (4K UHD) 8 Aug 2018, 6:00 am

The peerless surveying properties of the VST uncover exquisite details of the elliptical galaxy NGC 5018 and the delicate streams of gas and stars that surround it. Discover more in this episode of ESOcast Light.

FaviconESOcast 173: First Successful Test of Einstein’s General Relativity Near Supermassive Black Hole 26 Jul 2018, 8:00 am

Observations made with ESO’s Very Large Telescope have for the first time revealed the effects predicted by Einstein’s general relativity on the motion of a star passing through the extreme gravitational field near the supermassive black hole in the centre of the Milky Way. This long-sought result represents the climax of a 26-year-long observation campaign using ESO’s telescopes in Chile.

FaviconESOcast 172 Light: Supersharp Images from New VLT Adaptive Optics (4K UHD) 18 Jul 2018, 6:00 am

ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) has achieved first light with a new adaptive optics mode called laser tomography — and has captured remarkably sharp test images of the planet Neptune, star clusters and other objects. The pioneering MUSE instrument in Narrow-Field Mode, working with the GALACSI adaptive optics module, can now use this new technique to correct for turbulence at different altitudes in the atmosphere. It is now possible to capture images from the ground at visible wavelengths that are sharper than those from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The combination of exquisite image sharpness and the spectroscopic capabilities of MUSE will enable astronomers to study the properties of astronomical objects in much greater detail than was possible before.

FaviconESOcast 171 Light: Colourful Celestial Landscape (4K UHD) 11 Jul 2018, 6:00 am

New observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope have revealed the star cluster RCW 38 in all its glory. These observations was taken during testing of the HAWK-I camera with the GRAAL adaptive optics system. It shows the cluster and its surrounding clouds of brightly glowing gas in exquisite detail, with dark tendrils of dust threading through the bright core of this young gathering of stars.

FaviconESOcast 170: All you need to know about total solar eclipse 2019 4 Jul 2018, 10:00 am

HD - NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

High-definition (HD) videos from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory feature the latest news on space and science findings from JPL and NASA. Topics include discoveries made by spacecraft studying planets in our solar system, including Mars, Saturn and our home planet, Earth. Missions also study stars and galaxies in our universe.

FaviconWhat's Up - August 2018 1 Aug 2018, 3:00 am



Dark moonless nights for the summer Perseid Meteor Shower!



FaviconRare Double Asteroid Revealed 12 Jul 2018, 3:00 am



Three of the world's largest radio telescopes team up to reveal two objects orbiting each other



FaviconSounds of Saturn: Hear Radio Emissions of the Planet and Its Moon Enceladus 9 Jul 2018, 3:00 am



New research from the up-close Grand Finale orbits of NASA's Cassini mission shows a surprisingly powerful interaction of plasma waves moving from Saturn to its moon Enceladus.



FaviconNASA Mars Report: July 3, 2018 3 Jul 2018, 3:00 am



A dust storm continues to envelop the Red Planet and Curiosity's labs are back in action.



FaviconWhat's Up - July 2018 2 Jul 2018, 3:00 am



July's night skies feature Mars opposition on the 27th, when Mars, Earth, and the Sun all line up, and Mars' closest approach to Earth since 2003 on the 31st.