Comments on:

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

Frost Science

FaviconThe Next Time You Spot a Floating Card on the Bay, Take a Closer Look 22 Feb 2018, 2:55 pm

It’s no surprise that pollution is a widespread global problem. But did you know that marine debris is one of the biggest components of our pollution issue?

Massive amounts of plastics, metals, rubber, paper, textiles, derelict fishing gear, vessels, and other lost or discarded items enter our oceans every day. Marine debris, and especially marine plastics, can be found universally in the marine environment, all over the globe. It’s estimated that 8 million metric tons of plastic enters our oceans every year and that plastic doesn’t disintegrate or disappear. It breaks down into smaller pieces known as microplastics, or pieces of plastic that are less than 5 mm long.

And that poses a huge hazard to not only wildlife, but humans as well.

However, marine debris isn’t the only thing being transported by ocean currents. They also help move critically important species of mangrove along Florida’s coast, says Shannon Jones, Conservation Program Manager at Frost Science. Red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) disperse their offspring, or propagules, into the waters surrounding it. Depending on ocean currents and winds, these propagules generally float for days or weeks until they are ready to grow. Once they strand on a sandy or muddy shore, the propagules root themselves and develop into protective habitats that provide countless ecosystem services.

At Frost Science, we’re doing our part to protect our ocean and our mangroves. In early 2016, we (along with Vizcaya Museum and Gardens) took notice of the increasing marine debris problem and reached out to a team of scientists at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) to see if they could find the origin of the trash washing up into the mangroves around Vizcaya and Biscayne Bay.

Through the effort of community organizations, students, and volunteers the Biscayne Bay Drift Card Study, or BayDrift, was created. BayDrift is a citizen science study focused on understanding our local ocean currents and how trash and other pollutants are transported in our marine environment. Researchers at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMASCARTHE program collect data through BayDrift in two ways: recapturing small, eco-friendly wood drift cards that are decorated and released by citizen scientists and by releasing biodegradable GPS-equipped ocean surface drifters that provide their precise location every five minutes.

Baydrift bolo flyer

As a BayDrift release site and partner organization, Frost Science hosted the iSTEM Girls club from Dante B. Fascell Elementary School for an in-depth look at marine conservation and the importance of research and data collection. The iSTEM Girls club was created by Ms. Navia Gomez, the 5th grade math and science teacher and STEM liaison, to foster a growing interest in science and encourage girls at her school to enter a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) field in the future.

These young citizen scientists decorated drift cards and released them from the seawall in Museum Park on February 21, 11:00 a.m. Each drift card was coded so the researchers at CARTHE could identify which site it was deployed from. The cards are also labeled with information that introduces the project and instructs anyone who finds the card how to report where it was found. By tracking where drift cards are released and found, the CARTHE scientists can begin to better understand how currents in and around Biscayne Bay transport marine debris and other pollutants such as oil spills and sewage leaks. This understanding will help develop solutions to decrease the pollution in the Bay and along our shorelines.

decorating bay drift cards

The good news is that anyone can get involved in BayDrift! Just go out and look for the small, brightly colored drift cards after they are released. Once you have found a drift card, report where you found it by emailing a photo of the card to or post the photo on social media with hashtag #BAYDRIFT. You can also view all the data collected from the first year of the study online at

You can also join Frost Science and the City of Miami as we remove marine debris and restore native habitats during our Museum Volunteers for the Environment (MUVE) Citizen Science Workday at the Virginia Key North Point restoration site this Saturday, February 24th from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. This workday provides a great opportunity to look for the released Bay Drift cards while removing marine debris from the environment and restoring natural habitat to the area. For more information and to register for the event, click here.

To learn more about our MUVE program, click here.

You can also help out by volunteering with Frost Science! We offer a wide range of opportunities for the community to donate their time, passion and expertise to better the world we live in while sharing the power of science. Whether it’s an adult, teen or an entire family looking to volunteer their time, we have the right fit. For more information and to sign up, click here.

 " data-cycle-speed="750" data-cycle-center-horz="true">

The post The Next Time You Spot a Floating Card on the Bay, Take a Closer Look appeared first on Frost Science.

FaviconFrost Science Has Your New Valentine’s Game Plan 12 Feb 2018, 3:21 pm

While Valentine’s Day has somewhat ambiguous origins, one thing’s certain: all across the city, love is in the air. (Or maybe it’s all that increase in oxytocin.) With February 14 fast approaching, there isn’t much time—or dinner reservation slots—left to plan a proper lovefest with the ones you care about most.

Why not think a bit outside the box (of chocolates) this year? Whether it’s an evening escapade with a special someone or a daytime date with the family, Frost Science can add a unique twist to your Valentine’s Day celebration in Miami.

Laser Friday

Valentine’s Day is almost guaranteed to be a full of crowded dining rooms, rushed service and parking hassles. Save your date for Friday, February 16 instead and book your tickets for one (or more) of our Laser Friday shows in the Frost Planetarium. Replace the candlelight with laser lights, for an out-of-this-world night set to music and retro laser formations. Channel your lovelorn inner-teenager with the throwback graphics you remember from back in high school. If you’re 21 and over, you can take advantage of the wine and beer kiosk situated in the Main Atrium for some pre-date drinks. Looking some additional mood lighting? The entire museum will be bathed in a pulsating red glow for the month of February in honor of American Heart Month.

I Heart Frost Science

Show your entire family some love with a visit to the museum during “I Heart Frost Science” day. On Sunday, February 18, we’re taking the holiday to heart—literally. The museum will be filled with exciting activities and discussions that explore one of the body’s most essential organs: the heart. You’ll learn about the basics of CPR with Baptist Health South Florida, how a bird’s heart helps them fly, why cephalopods (like octopuses) have three hearts, where a sea star’s heart is located and how crocodile hearts have evolved to allow them to stay underwater without breathing.

If you’ve reached peak heart talk, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., everyone in the family will have an opportunity to win special advance screening passes to a 3D presentation of Disney’s new feature, “A Wrinkle in Time.” And that beats a box of chocolates any day.

For more information or to reserve tickets, please visit

The post Frost Science Has Your New Valentine’s Game Plan appeared first on Frost Science.

FaviconWhat Exactly Is a Super Blue Blood Moon, Anyway? 30 Jan 2018, 12:00 am

I still remember the first time I became fully aware of the moon. It was a full moon—and I was just a curious four-year-old with light hair.

My hair has darkened since those days, but that early vision of Earth’s gravitational companion has planted the seed for who I am today and the work I do at Frost Science.

Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion on this week’s “Super Blue Blood Moon.” But what does that mean? And should you run out and find a telescope?

To understand it, let’s break down the name word-for-word:

Super: This means that the moon is closer than average.

Blue: The second full moon in a month is called a “blue moon.” At 29.5 days, the lunar phase cycle falls right under an average month, making two full moons a possibility every so often.

Blood: This means that the moon will pass through Earth’s shadow, giving viewers in the right location a total lunar eclipse.

If you are an avid stargazer, you already know that the apparent size of the full moon as seen from Earth varies throughout the year. The largest possible full moon is about 15% larger and 30% brighter than the smallest one, but most fall somewhere in the middle.

Nevertheless, the difference between the largest ones (commonly known as “Super Moons”) and the smallest ones, is only really apparent when you view them side-by-side in photos. And the difference is, of course, less apparent when compared to an average moon.

Why does this happen? While some of us tend to think that the planets and moons within our solar system move in near-perfect circles, the truth of the matter is that their orbits are more or less elliptical—with some significantly deviating from a true circle.

In the case of the moon, the differences are certainly noticeable. At its perigee (or nearest to the Earth), the moon is around 356,500 km away from our planet, while at its apogee (or most distant), it is around 406,700 km away. That is, for those of you more familiar with the Imperial system, 221,500 miles and 252,700 miles respectively, with a differential range of 31,200 miles.

Of course, we don’t expect every full moon to coincide with its perigee; and not every new moon coincides with its apogee. Because not only are their orbits non-circular, but the Earth-Moon system is also orbiting around the Sun.

A Super Moon is defined as any full moon that occurs close enough to the perigee, that its distance from Earth is within 10% of the moon’s closest approach to Earth.

Nevertheless, the apparent size of the Super Moon is less than a tenth of a degree larger than an average moon. Which means most of us wouldn’t really notice the difference when looking at it in the sky. To illustrate the point, the tip of your pinky finger when your arm is fully extended covers about a degree on the sky—so the difference would be a tenth of that.

But January 31’s full moon has a few interesting peculiarities. We’ll essentially be witnessing the first total lunar eclipse since 2015. During a total lunar eclipse, the moon passes through the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow. And in the predawn hours, that will make the moon look a rusty orange color. Total lunar eclipses don’t happen every month because the Earth’s orbit around the sun is not in the same plane as the moon’s orbit around the Earth. Unlike a total solar eclipse—which lasts only minutes—this will last for several hours.

Unfortunately, those of us in the eastern United States will only see a partial lunar eclipse for a limited amount of time as the moon will set before it enters totality. The next total lunar eclipse visible from South Florida will be on January 21, 2019.

In any case, my recommendation is that you go out and enjoy the full moon on the night of January 31. It’s a great a reason to keep stargazing and looking up at our skies—and in my opinion? The moon is always super.

The post What Exactly Is a Super Blue Blood Moon, Anyway? appeared first on Frost Science.

FaviconBig Bang 2018: Towering Robots, Silent Disco and IRiE! 27 Jan 2018, 6:58 pm

On Saturday, January 20, the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science hosted nearly 900 guests during one of our most popular fundraisers of the year—The Big Bang: Sonic Odyssey. Hosted by our Young Patrons, the event invited guests to move freely throughout the museum, exploring the wonders of sound through several thrilling activations and performances on each floor of the campus.

As guests checked in, a “Tron”-inspired drummer from Light Up the Night set the vibe for the evening with an acoustic flurry of sound. Once inside, attendees were treated to an out-of-this-world photo booth opp by artist @Haiiileen, which immersed them in multidimensional layers filled with different elements of our atmosphere. In the Dive level of the Aquarium, a well-heeled crowd participated in a Silent Disco before heading up to the rooftop beer garden for refreshments. Loft VR, Moonlighter Makerspace and NanoLeaf added some visual thrills to the night’s program, while on the auditory side, the Lucky Records Vinyl Listening Lounge featuring DJ Le Spam, The Love Below and Frost School of Music provided the evening’s soundtrack.

Cocktails flowed throughout the night thanks to Atlantico Rum, Tito’s Vodka, Hendrick’s Gin, Voga, Kombrewcha, Bousa Brewery, Lincoln’s Beard Brewing Co., Peroni and Veza Sur Brewery, while guests savored a delectable assortment of light bites from local restaurants such as Ms. Cheezious, Beaker & Gray, Boulud Sud, Bulla Gastrobar, Fooq’s, La Centrale, Area 31, Yaku Lounge and Shake Shack.

After exploring all activations on each floor, party-goers were invited to freshen up their look with the help of GlamSquad, I Wear For All and a fragrance bar by Bloomingdale’s.

The night reached a fevered pitch at 11 p.m., when 10-foot tall illuminated “robots” helped party-goers light up the dynamic dance floor of the MeLaβ with a hot performance by locally-renowned DJ, IRiE.

The Big Bang: Sonic Odyssey was made possible by the following sponsors and partners

Event Sponsors
FPL Solar Now, Baptist Health South Florida, WeWork, Lyft

Entertainment Partners
IRiE, Frost School of Music, Light Up the Night, Loft VR, The Love Below, Lucky Records

Event Partners
Boulud Sud, Ms. Cheezious, Fooq’s, La Centrale, Pincho Factory, Segafredo Bayside, Area 31, Lilt Lounge, The Social Club at Surfcomber, Shake Shack, Kombrewcha, Giardino, Lima, Gianni’s at The Villa, Bulla, Pisco y Nazca, Beaker & Gray, Yaku Lounge, Fleming’s Steakhouse, Elia, Viv’s Little Waffle Shop, Lincoln’s Bear Brewing Co., Bousa Brewery, Glamsquad, APPi, Serendipity, Popchips, Veza Sur Brewing Co., Wall’s Ice Cream, Freebee, Tropical Fluff, The Frank Booth Co., Bloomingdale’s, Moonlighter Makerspace, DML, I Wear For All, Nanoleaf, SGWS, Atlantico Rum, Tito’s Vodka, Hendrick’s Gin, Jim Beam, Castle Brands, Hornitos, Kenwood Vineyards, VOGA, Snoqualmie Vineyards, 1865 Vineyard, Trinity Oaks, Pepsi, Peroni, Whole Foods

Media Partners
Time Out Miami, Miami Modern Luxury, Beyond South Beach, The Brickell Scoop, Outfront Media

View the full album on Facebook

 " data-cycle-speed="750" data-cycle-center-horz="true">

The post Big Bang 2018: Towering Robots, Silent Disco and IRiE! appeared first on Frost Science.

FaviconRewind: A Look Back at Frost Science in December 16 Jan 2018, 5:46 pm

It was a busy and bustling holiday season at Frost Science! We welcomed some of the largest crowds since our opening through our doors, sending 2017 off on a wonderful high note. Along with our festive crowds, we invited our members to join us for a wintery members-only event along with welcoming a New York Times bestselling author for a special children’s book reading.

Red Dot/Spectrum Art Fair

The month kicked off with the city in full creative tilt for Miami Art Week. For the first time in its history, Frost Science formed an innovative cultural collaboration with two of the week’s most preeminent fairs: Red Dot Miami and Spectrum Miami. From December 6 – 10, guests who purchased a Total Experience Ticket at the museum were granted free admission to Red Dot Miami, Spectrum Miami and its “show within a show,” ArtSpot Miami. Frost Science members also received free admission to all three shows simply by flashing their membership ID. It’s the first of many cultural collaborations to come!

Member Morning: Frost-y Fun

Last month, we invited members to “chill” with us for a with a special winter-themed Member Morning. From 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., they explored the museum without the crowds and enjoyed special demonstrations in the MeLaβ using dry ice and snow polymer. Members were also treated to early bird shopping hours at the Science Store featuring 20% off their entire purchase after warming up with a complimentary cup of drip coffee in the Main Atrium.

Book Reading: Charlie Numbers and the Man in the Moon

What does a super-sleuthing math whiz have in common with paper airplanes? Guests at last month’s book reading event know the answer! On Saturday, December 23, we welcomed New York Times bestseller Ben Mezrich and his wife Tonya for a reading of their newest book “Charlie Numbers and the Man in the Moon,” a children’s book based on a mathematical whiz kid who solves crime in his spare time. Ben, who also authored “Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions” and “The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal,” answered questions from the audience while Tonya read a chapter from the book. After the reading, guests competed in a paper airplane competition, with the authors staying on hand to sign copies of the book.

There’s plenty more happening at Frost Science next month, too. Be sure to visit our calendar of events for more details on our schedule.

The post Rewind: A Look Back at Frost Science in December appeared first on Frost Science.

StarDate Online - Your guide to the universe

FaviconVenus Returns 24 Feb 2018, 1:00 am

An old friend is returning to view about now — the planet Venus, the brilliant “evening star.” It’s quite low in the west at sunset, so any trees or buildings along the horizon will block it from view. Because it’s so bright, though, if you have a clear horizon you should be able to pick it out.

Venus shuffles back and forth between morning and evening skies. And it repeats itself as it does so. It traces a series of five patterns that repeat every eight years. So in late February of 2026, Venus will stand almost exactly where it is tonight.

That’s because the orbital cycles of Earth and Venus are nearly synchronized. For every eight times that Earth orbits the Sun — a period of eight years — Venus orbits the Sun 13 times.

That could be an orbital resonance — a physical link caused by the gravitational pull that Earth and Venus exert on each other. But the cycle is off by a tiny bit, so the timing could be just a coincidence.

No matter the cause, though, it makes it easy to predict where Venus will appear at any time: the same place it was eight years earlier.

And Venus will put on a much better showing as we head into spring and then into summer. It will climb a little higher into the sky each evening, so it’ll be a little easier to spot. It will remain in view a little longer each night, too — providing more time to appreciate the beauty of this predictable planet.

Tomorrow: a vision in blue

Script by Damond Benningfield

Saturday, February 24, 2018
A brilliant return to the evening sky

FaviconVenus Returns 24 Feb 2018, 1:00 am

The planet Venus, the brilliant “evening star,” is returning to view. It is quite low in the west at sunset, so any trees or buildings along the horizon will block it from view. If you have a clear horizon, though, you may be able to pick it out.

FaviconMoon and Aldebaran 23 Feb 2018, 1:00 am

A starship is headed toward the vicinity of the eye of the celestial bull. It’ll take a couple of million years to get there, and it’ll be dead quiet along the way. But just in case anyone finds it, it carries a helpful road map to help them figure out where it came from.

The bull’s eye is the bright orange star Aldebaran. It stands to the lower right of the Moon as night falls, and leads the Moon down the western sky later on.

Aldebaran is about 65 light-years away. In other words, the star’s light, traveling at 670 million miles per hour, takes about 65 years to reach us.

The Pioneer 10 spacecraft isn’t moving nearly that fast. When it was dispatched to explore the planet Jupiter, in 1972, it was the fastest probe ever launched, moving at more than 32 thousand miles per hour. And the Sun’s gravitational pull has slowed it down since then. So the craft is no Millennium Falcon — it’ll take about two million years to approach Aldebaran.

And it won’t be saying anything when it gets there. Its nuclear power source has faded, so it’ll be nothing more than a hunk of cold metal as it traverses the galaxy. Even so, it can convey a message. The craft carries a plaque designed to help anyone who finds Pioneer learn something about its makers and its home. The plaque includes drawings of a nude man and woman, as well as some directions for tracing its path — the path followed by one of the first starships from the solar system.

Script by Damond Benningfield

Friday, February 23, 2018
On the road to Aldebaran

FaviconMoon and Aldebaran 23 Feb 2018, 1:00 am

The bright orange star Aldebaran, which marks the eye of Taurus, the bull, stands to the lower right of the Moon as night falls and leads the Moon down the western sky later on. The star is about 65 light-years from Earth.

FaviconMirzam 22 Feb 2018, 1:00 am

The Sun is a sedate, middle-aged star. It steadily “fuses” the hydrogen in its core to make helium, which releases the energy that makes the Sun shine. And the Sun changes very little — its size and brightness are always almost exactly the same.

A star in the big dog is much different — it pulses in and out like a beating heart.

Mirzam represents a paw of Canis Major, the big dog. As night falls, it’s close to the right of Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, in the southeast.

Mirzam is much bigger and heavier than the Sun, and thousands of times brighter. And it’s only about 12 million years old, compared to billions of years for the Sun.

Even so, Mirzam is nearing the end of its life. It’s just about used up the hydrogen in its core, so it’s getting ready to fuse the helium to make other elements.

A layer around the core contains a lot of iron. The iron absorbs energy from the core. When enough energy builds up, that layer pushes outward. When the layer cools, it falls back. That process carries out to the star’s surface, causing it to pulse in and out.

There are actually many different pulsations, all working in different ways. The pulses last different amounts of time, for example, and they move at different speeds. Combined, they cause Mirzam’s diameter to vary by thousands of miles. That changes the star’s brightness, too, but not enough to see with the eye alone. So the dog’s paw looks steady, even though it pulses once every few hours.

Script by Damond Benningfield

Thursday, February 22, 2018
The big dog’s throbbing foot

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 152 Light: ESO’s VLT Working as 16-metre Telescope for First Time (4K UHD) 13 Feb 2018, 9:00 am

The ESPRESSO instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile has used the combined light of all four of the 8.2-metre Unit Telescopes for the first time. Combining light from the Unit Telescopes in this way makes the VLT the largest optical telescope in existence in terms of collecting area.

FaviconESOcast 151: Chile Chill 11 – ALMA from the Air 9 Feb 2018, 8:00 am

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is a state-of-the-art telescope to study light from some of the coldest objects in the Universe. The music is by Stan Dart from "Supernova", the soundtrack for the ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre, available on and for download on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.

FaviconESOcast 150 Light: Planets around TRAPPIST-1 Probably Rich in Water 5 Feb 2018, 11:00 am

FaviconESOcast 149: Fast Track Your Career with the ESO Studentship Programmes 2 Feb 2018, 6:00 am

In ESOcast 149 we hear from some of ESO’s current students about their experience at ESO, and they offer their advice to those considering following in their footsteps.

FaviconESOcast 148 Light: Clouded Star Birth (4K UHD) 31 Jan 2018, 6:00 am

In the star-forming region Lupus 3, in the constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion), dazzlingly hot stars are born from collapsing masses of gas and dust.

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.

FaviconMars in a Minute: What's Inside Mars? 22 Feb 2018, 3:00 am

We know what "The Red Planet" looks like from the outside -- but what's going on under the surface of Mars? Find out more in the 60-second video from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

FaviconWhat's Up - February 2018 1 Feb 2018, 3:00 am

This month, in honor of Valentine's Day, we look at celestial star pairs and constellation couples.

FaviconThe Mars Report 31 Jan 2018, 3:00 am

This kickoff of a new Mars video series covers Opportunity's 14th anniversary on the Red Planet, Curiosity's spectacular panorama and ice deposits spotted by an orbiter.

FaviconCuriosity at Martian Scenic Overlook 30 Jan 2018, 3:00 am

Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada gives a descriptive tour of the Mars rover's view in Gale Crater. The white-balanced scene looks back over the journey so far.

FaviconWhat's Up - January 2018 2 Jan 2018, 3:00 am

Quadrantid meteors January 3-4, a West Coast-favoring total lunar eclipse, and time to start watching Mars!