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Frost Science

FaviconThe Mission to Save Cuba’s Sea Turtles 20 Oct 2017, 11:27 am

As Frost Science’s Curator of Ecology, I have a dream job. I get to direct Museum Volunteers for the Environment (MUVE), a project I created in 2007 that helps to restore rare coastal habitats through the tireless work of local volunteers. But I also get to spend a good deal of time working in the field on conservation science projects. One subject that is dear to me is the study of sea turtles. As soon as I saw my first female green turtle nesting on a beach, I fell in love with these sentinel creatures who, over 200 million years ago, left their comfy lives on land to navigate the oceans in search of food, mates and, every year or two, a beach to lay their eggs. And that’s just the females. Male turtles live their life at sea, which makes them even more difficult to study. However, the females offer an exclusive glimpse into the behavior and physiology of these highly-evolved reptiles.

One place I have spent a lot of time doing research is Cuba. With its 3,000 miles of coastline, Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean. The abundance of beach habitat and ample foraging grounds on the island make it a hotbed for sea turtle nesting and foraging. Primarily, three species of turtle nest and feed in Cuban waters: green, loggerhead and hawksbill. And Cayo Largo is the most important nesting site in Cuba with an average of 2,000 green and loggerhead nests per year. It’s also an important tourism site with five all-inclusive hotels operating within walking distance of regular active nesting activity. Walking on the beaches at night during the nesting season involves taking very careful steps not to disturb a nest.

This past August, sea turtle scientists from Cuba, Florida and Costa Rica gathered for the 5th International Workshop on Cuban Sea Turtle Research and Conservation in Cayo Largo, Cuba. The objective of our workshop was to develop a plan to restore regular research efforts during the nesting season, organize satellite tracking efforts on the island and create a permanent sea turtle rehabilitation program in Cuba that would help turtles being impacted by incidental bycatch, disease (particularly fibropalliloma tumors) and turtle strandings.

Sea Turtle blog 2

Sadly, tourism to Cayo Largo doesn’t take advantage of the beautiful natural denizens on their island. While there is a rescue center that organizes the public release of hatchlings (an activity that is shunned upon by turtle scientists) from nests laid in areas threatened by tourism, there is no ethic to encourage tourism that offers unique views of these creatures. The island needs more tourism, especially in the summer nesting season—interestingly, this also coincides with the island’s low season. This creates incentives for the five hotels operating on the island to care more about their conservation.

The consensus was to secure funding to support three trips to Cayo Largo (June, July and August 2018), whereby Cuban scientists and volunteers will patrol beaches and collect nesting and hatchling data. Cuba also lacks a wildlife rehabilitation center where diseased turtles (or those caught incidentally by fishers) can be treated and returned to the wild. During our workshop, we selected wildlife veterinarian Eddy García to undergo training at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa in January 2018. Mr. Garcia, a trained veterinarian and manatee biologist, will learn how to treat injured turtles from the Florida Aquarium’s wildlife rehabilitation program in Tampa Bay.

While the workshop was a great success, Hurricane Irma ravaged the north coast of Cuba as a category five storm only a short week later. Wildlife veterinarian Eddy García lost his house in Santa Clara and two research institutions there were badly damaged. Should you wish to donate to the rebuilding efforts there, please visit: https://donate.oceanfdn.org/campaign/cuba-recovery-fund/c145775

Read more about Cuba’s sea turtles:



Sea Turtle blog 3

The post The Mission to Save Cuba’s Sea Turtles appeared first on Frost Science.

FaviconRewind: A Look Back at Frost Science in September 8 Oct 2017, 4:59 pm

In the days after Irma, Frost Science launched efforts to help our Caribbean neighbors impacted by the storm’s path. On behalf of Activados por Puerto Rico/Puerto Rico Rises, we launched a hurricane relief drive, serving as a drop-off point for much-needed supplies.

And our community didn’t disappoint—together, we collected well over 3,000 pounds of items, including canned meals, water, diapers and personal hygiene products that Activados por Puerto Rico will distribute to areas with the greatest need.

This organization has sent over one million pounds of supplies to Puerto Rico since September 21, in addition to over 600,000 pounds of medical supplies via private chartered jets. In partnership with the National Guard on the ground in Puerto Rico, the Hecny Group has handled all logistics and consolidation of items via ocean and air.

While Irma put a pause on our programming last month, we worked to quickly open our doors to the community with after-hours events like Laser Fridays and LATE. Here’s the scoop:

LATE@Frost Science: SEEING 004 – Optics

Over 400 guests came to explore “Optics,” the latest installation of our LATE after-hours series exploring the SEEING: WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT? exhibition. On September 27, guests savored complimentary cocktails and PopChips as they took a deeper look at optical illusions and how these sleight-of-the-eye images can deceive the brain.

Dr. Ranya Habash, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute’s assistant professor of ophthalmology, Dr. Van Hamme, FIU professor of physics and astronomy, and Leo Casteneda, a YoungArts Alum and artist, delivered creative talks underneath the Gulf Stream Exhibit Oculus, while guests experienced several activations, including “3D Printed Stereographic Projections” by Moonlighter Makerspace, a VR experience with Leo Castaneda and a hands-on “Spinning White Light” workshop courtesy of our neighbors at the Perez Art Museum Miami.

Local chanteuse Anna Palmerola took the stage inside the MeLaβ with her bright and brassy vocals, as guests took home photographic souvenirs of the event from the YP Photo Booth.

SEEING: WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT? has been made possible with generous support by Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, part of the University of Miami Health System.

Next month, we’re giving you more of what you’ve been asking for: mini-camps for kids, spooky science for Halloween and double the laser light shows! Make sure to check our calendar of events and save the date.

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

FaviconRewind: A Look Back at Frost Science in August 18 Sep 2017, 2:46 pm

Astronomically speaking, the month of August was a tough one to beat. Solar eclipse madness overtook the city, with people of all ages gathering on our Science Plaza to gaze at the sky together and admire the rare view. Wondering what else happened at Frost Science last month? Here’s the scoop:

LATE@Frost Science: SEEING 003 – Waves

Over 400 guests came to explore “Waves,” the latest installation of our LATE after-hours series exploring the SEEING: WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT? exhibition. On August 9, sound waves and echolocation were the topic of the night as guests mingled with PopChips and complimentary cocktails from Atlantico Rums in hand.

Dr. Kelley Winship, research associate and marine mammal trainer at Dolphins Plus Oceanside, and Frank Ridgley, director of conservation and research at Zoo Miami, delivered creative talks underneath the Gulf Stream Exhibit Oculus, while guests experienced several activations, including “Visualizing Sound” by Moonlighter Makerspace, live bat monitoring with the Miami Bat Squad and the VR Echo Earth Experience and Sea Sounds with RSMAS.

DJ Lolo of Sweat Records was on hand to keep the evening moving and guests took home photographic souvenirs of the event thanks to the YP Photo Booth and Bridges Aderhold’s “For Your Eyes” ocular snapshots.

SEEING: WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT? has been made possible with generous support by Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, part of the University of Miami Health System.

LIVE@Frost Science: Blue Mind Life

How does water impact our emotional and psychological well-being? It’s one of the questions we explored on August 16 during “Blue Mind Life: The Seven Ages of Water,” part of the LIVE@Frost Science series. Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, New York Times bestselling author of “Blue Mind,” was joined by a panel of guests including Dr. Debra Lieberman, an evolutionary psychologist and assistant professor with the Department of Psychology at the University of Miami; Jim Ritterhoff, co-founder and executive director of FORCE BLUE; Fernando Bretos, curator of ecology and director of MUVE (Museum Volunteers for the Environment) at Frost Science; and Hannes Bend, a pioneer in the use of ocean virtual reality and biofeedback.

Afterwards, guests took part in the Blue Marbles Project, a global slow-motion art project that encourages people to celebrate random acts of kindness. They also had the opportunity to experience SEAing Breath, a virtual reality (VR) experience created by Hannes Bend, Maria Mishurenko and Gordey Chernyy using breath biofeedback—part of the SEA LEVEL RISE Program by Miami-Dade County and the University of Miami.

Event support was provided by 1 Hotel South Beach.

Solar Eclipse Viewing

On August 21, the path of the total solar eclipse crossed 14 states, from Oregon to South Carolina, traveling from coast to coast for the first time in 99 years. While Miami fell just outside of the path of totality, the Magic City witnessed a partial solar eclipse. We welcomed over 8,500 people to the museum for this amazing celestial event, where an impressive 80% of the sun was shadowed by the moon. With their special edition Frost Science solar eclipse glasses in hand, the community came together to look up at the sky and witness this awe-inspiring event. District Marketing Manager for the United States Postal Service, Juan Nadal, dedicated the first-of-its-kind Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever stamp to the museum which was available for purchase at the Science Store.  

The next total solar eclipse over North America will visit Mexico, the United States and Canada on April 8, 2024. However, we’ll have to wait until August 12, 2045 for another one to cross the continental United States. Frost Science will then take the pilot seat, as South Florida will be under the path of totality. Keep looking up!

Science Art Cinema

We wound up the month with “Science Art Cinema Series 1, Episode 4: Science Art Cinema Film Festival” in the Frost Planetarium on August 31. Guests enjoyed entertainment from Buffalo Brown, along with activations by the Miami Film Festival, FilmGate Miami and the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Florida Moving Image Archives at Miami Dade College. The program began with an introduction by fellow judges Dr. Jorge Perez-Gallego and Kevin Arrow of Frost Science, followed by remarks from Andrew Sherry, Vice President of Communications at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The evening also featured a surprise video message from Christian Slater, who was on the set of the television series “Mr. Robot.” After a screening of all the film finalists, the winners were announced. First place was awarded to “Metamorphosis of Plants” by Urszula Zajaczkowska; second place was awarded to “Space James” by Michael Ruiz-Unger; and third place was awarded to “Diviner Intervention” by Emily Cussins.

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

FaviconHow to Catch a Shark? Just Ask These Upward Bound Students 31 Aug 2017, 1:22 pm

When was the last time your school field trip asked you to wrangle down a few half-ton sharks? As wild as it sounds, that’s exactly what students in our Upward Bound Math & Science (UBMS) program did over a weekend this past summer. Frost Science’s UBMS program, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, recruits top-notch students from Title 1 schools in the Miami area and enrolls them in a four-year, after-school, weekend and summer program focused on science, technology and a culture of intellectual curiosity.

When educators boast of an immersive learning experience, they may cite a well-programmed field trip, the dissection of a unique specimen or perhaps an innovative classroom software. It’s not often that students contribute to the research of professional scientists in the field—much less capture half-ton sharks in the open ocean to collect data critical to conservation efforts.

Serving as the culmination of a six-week marine science course, this expedition was made possible by the University of Miami’s Shark Research and Conservation Program (SRC). From August 11 to the 13, UBMS students caught and released 16 sharks along the coast of South Florida. Amidst the exhilarating process of securing each shark onto a specialized platform, a series of tests and measurements were taken as quickly and carefully as possible. The students helped researchers set/recover bait, monitor the sharks’ stress levels, record various body lengths, insert dorsal fin tags and test several metrics that helped paint a picture of the water quality and other environmental conditions.

And this was no simple eco-tour. From start to finish, the SRC team involved our students in the action. Their efforts gave researchers plenty of data that will be used to monitor the status of urban shark populations considering factors such as increasing water temperatures and overfishing. This data, once analyzed and synthesized, informs policy that can protect these ecologically indispensable predators.

Students have been enjoying the shark tagging expedition with the SRC program for the past seven years—and it’s one that exemplifies the mission of UBMS at Frost Science. It exposes students to STEM career opportunities in an exciting and memorable way. While a dry presentation about shark research may be educational, getting soaked alongside passionate conservationists transcends education—it’s inspiration.

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The post How to Catch a Shark? Just Ask These Upward Bound Students appeared first on Frost Science.

FaviconEverything You Need to Know About the Solar Eclipse 14 Aug 2017, 9:48 am

We’re in for a major celestial treat this month: the U.S. has been given front row seats to a solar eclipse. It’ll be the first time since 1979 that an eclipse has been visible from the contiguous United States. But this one’s special—it’ll be visible from coast-to-coast, something that hasn’t happened in 99 years.

What exactly is a solar eclipse?

While the moon is about 239,000 miles away from Earth with a radius of about 1,000 miles, and the sun is about 93 million miles away with one of about 432,000 miles, they have a similar angular size in the sky. That’s right—they both take up about half a degree on the sky as seen from Earth.

Solar eclipses occur when the new moon comes between the sun and Earth and casts the darkest part of its shadow, the umbra, on our planet. They happen with a certain frequency and are typically seen from different locations around Earth.

Eclipses are named after their darkest phase: total, partial and annular. During a total eclipse, the moon covers the entire disk of the sun. During partial and annular eclipses, the moon blocks only part of the sun. Total eclipses tend to happen when the moon is on its perigee (or, closest to Earth), while annular ones occur when it’s on its apogee (or, furthest from Earth) and looks slightly smaller than the sun. That causes it to form a ring (known as an “annulus” in Latin) as it passes in front of it. On occasion, we’ll get a rare hybrid of an annular and a total eclipse.

Is there a solar eclipse season?

Yes! The moon’s orbital plane around Earth is inclined at an angle of approximately five degrees in relation to the ecliptic—the circular path the sun appears to follow over the course of a year on the celestial sphere. The points where the two orbital planes meet are called lunar nodes. When the sun and the moon are close enough to a lunar node to align with Earth, we are in eclipse season, which lasts for about a month. In every eclipse season, you can expect two to three eclipses, including both solar and lunar. One of these is always a solar eclipse, with about two to five of them occuring every year.

What happens during a solar eclipse?

During a total solar eclipse, we dive into twilight in the middle of the day while witnessing the jets and streamers of light present in the sun’s corona emanating from the edges of the obscured sun. Some stars (and Mercury if it lies just to the side of the Sun) may be visible. Temperatures drop and animals behave as if night has arrived early.

What can I expect during this solar eclipse?

The path of this month’s total eclipse will cross 14 states, from Oregon to South Carolina. While Miami falls just outside of the path of totality, the Magic City will still be able to witness a partial solar eclipse, with an impressive 80% of the sun’s surface shadowed by the Moon. The event will begin at 1:26pm and end at 4:20pm, with maximum covering occurring at 2:58pm.

An eclipse is a spectacular astronomical event but remember, it’s not safe to look at a partial or annular eclipse (or the partial phases of a total solar eclipse) without the proper equipment and technique. Make sure you use eclipse glasses, solar telescopes or binoculars, or welding goggles 15 or higher.

You can also get a pair of your very own eclipse glasses during our Solar Eclipse viewing event! Be sure to check out our calendar for details on this extraordinary event. Complimentary glasses are with museum admission only—while supplies last. Glasses will be handed out starting at 9 a.m. when the museum opens. Solar eclipse glasses are also currently available for purchase at the Science Store for $4.99.

The post Everything You Need to Know About the Solar Eclipse appeared first on Frost Science.

StarDate Online - Your guide to the universe

FaviconOrionid Meteor Shower 20 Oct 2017, 1:00 am

The Orionid meteor shower should be at its best late tonight, and there will be no Moon in the sky then to spoil the show. The shower is known as the Orionids because its meteors “rain” from Orion, although they can streak across any part of the sky.

FaviconOrionid Meteor Shower 20 Oct 2017, 1:00 am

The Orionid meteor shower should be at its most active late tonight. And there’s no Moon in the sky then, so it should be a pretty good show.

The shower is known as the Orionids because all of its meteors appear to “rain” into the sky from Orion the hunter. The constellation climbs into good view after midnight, so that’s when the shower is at its best — between midnight and dawn.

The meteors are bits of debris from Comet Halley. The comet sheds grains of dust as it orbits the Sun. When Earth crosses the comet’s path, some of those grains plunge into the atmosphere. They instantly heat up and vaporize, creating the streaks of light known as meteors.

Most of the dust grains are no bigger than pebbles. But a few are larger. They form brilliant streaks that are visible even in a moderately light-polluted sky. And some of them can leave glowing trails that remain visible for a couple of minutes.

The shower has been declining in recent years. Halley’s Comet is near its greatest distance from Earth, so there aren’t as many bits of comet dust in this part of its orbital path. But the number of meteors appears to vary over a period of a decade or so. There’s evidence that the number is heading upwards, so the shower could produce 20 or more meteors per hour at its peak.

To watch the Orionids, find a dark but safe site away from city lights. Bundle up against the autumn chill, then sit back and watch the sparks from Halley’s Comet.


Script by Damond Benningfield

Friday, October 20, 2017
Sparks from a distant comet

FaviconNew Moon 19 Oct 2017, 1:00 am

The new Moon will accompany the Sun as it climbs across the sky today. We can’t see the Moon because it is immersed in the Sun’s glare. The exact moment of new Moon is 2:12 p.m. CDT. The Moon will return to view after sunset tomorrow or Saturday.

FaviconMore Uranus at Opposition 19 Oct 2017, 1:00 am

Diagram of the rings and moons of Uranus

Small moons orbit within the faint rings of the planet Uranus, as shown in this diagram. The rings form several narrow bands, shown in white, and a few wider bands, in blue and orange. Some of the moons acts as shepherds, keeping the ring material in place. Most of the rings particles are tiny, but some are as big as pickup trucks. [Ruslik0/Wikimedia]

Like peanut butter, planetary rings come in different textures. The rings of Jupiter and Neptune are smooth because the ring particles are tiny. But the rings of Saturn and Uranus are more chunky. They contain plenty of small particles, but they have big chunks mixed in. These different textures can reveal how the rings were made.

The particles in the rings of Jupiter and Neptune probably flake off the moons of these planets when the moons are hit by big space rocks. The bits of debris then spread out to form rings.

The small particles in the rings of Uranus probably form in the same way. But the rings of Uranus also contain chunks as big as pickup trucks. These pieces may be debris from a moon that was pulverized by a collision with a comet or asteroid.

The rings of Uranus are darker than charcoal, so they were discovered just 40 years ago. Even then, they were found only because they blocked the light of a star that was passing behind them.

There are several tight bands of material within the rings. These bands are no more than a few miles wide. They probably are “penned in” by small moons, which act like shepherds — their gravity keeps their flocks of ring materials from drifting away.

And Uranus is putting in its best appearance of the year. It rises at sunset, in the constellation Pisces, and remains in view all night. It’s also closest to us for the year, so it shines brightest. Even so, you need binoculars to find it.


Script by Damond Benningfield

Thursday, October 19, 2017
Smooth or chunky?
Diagram of the rings and moons of Uranus
Diagram of the rings and moons of Uranus

FaviconDistant Rings 19 Oct 2017, 1:00 am

Small moons orbit within the faint rings of the planet Uranus, as shown in this diagram. The rings form several narrow bands, shown in white, and a few wider bands, in blue and orange. Some of the moons acts as shepherds, keeping the ring material in place. Most of the rings particles are tiny, but some are as big as pickup trucks. [Ruslik0/Wikimedia]

More Uranus at Opposition
Diagram of the rings and moons of Uranus

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 133: ESO Telescopes Observe First Light from Gravitational Wave Source 16 Oct 2017, 10:00 am

Astronomers using a fleet of ESO telescopes have observed a visible counterpart to gravitational waves for the first time: a kilonova from merging neutron stars.

FaviconESOcast 132: Why​ ​Astronomers​ ​Want​ ​to Use​ ​ALMA​ ​-​ ​We​ ​are​ ​Stardust! 12 Oct 2017, 6:00 am

What are you made of? You’re made of matter, which is made of molecules, which are made of atoms. But where did those atoms come from? The ones in you! How were they formed? Well, they were created inside of stars! Really, you’re made of star stuff!

FaviconESOcast 131 Light: ALMA and Rosetta detect Freon-40 in Space (4K UHD) 2 Oct 2017, 11:00 am

Astronomers found the molecule Freon-40, which is made by biological processes on Earth, in places which predate life... Watch this episode to find out more!

FaviconESOcast 130: Why​ ​Astronomers​ ​Want​ ​to​ ​Use ALMA - ALMA​ ​is​ ​State​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Art​ ​Technology​ 2 Oct 2017, 10:00 am

ESOcast 130 describes why astronomers are so keen to exploit ALMA’s enormous size and power, and how its state of the art technology is leading to observations of groundbreaking precision and quality.

FaviconESOcast 129 Light: The Strange Structures of the Saturn Nebula (4K UHD) 27 Sep 2017, 6:00 am

The spectacular planetary nebula NGC 7009, or the Saturn Nebula, emerges from the darkness like a series of oddly-shaped bubbles, lit up in glorious pinks and blues.

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 - October 2017 28 Sep 2017, 3:00 am

Planet Pairs, Stellar Superstars, Observe The Moon Night!!

FaviconFarewell to Saturn: Highlights from the End of NASA's Cassini Mission 18 Sep 2017, 3:00 am

On Sept. 15, 2017, Cassini plunged into Saturn, ending its 20-year mission of discovery.

FaviconCassini's Last Looks at Saturn 15 Sep 2017, 3:00 am

In its final hours, NASA's Cassini spacecraft returned these last looks at Saturn, its rings and moons, as it prepared to end its nearly 20-year voyage in space.

FaviconFinal Moments in Cassini Mission Control 15 Sep 2017, 3:00 am

Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, awaited the final transmission from the Cassini spacecraft as it plunged into Saturn's atmosphere ending its 20-year voyage of discovery.

FaviconNASA's Cassini Spacecraft: A Journey's End 8 Sep 2017, 3:00 am

The Cassini mission's epic 13-year exploration of Saturn is coming to a close.