Raritan Valley planetarium to host variety of star and laser shows in Feb

In the month of February there are plenty of reasons to look up towards the starry sky. As Venus and Mars remain faithful companions in the early evening sky – Venus as the brighter of the two will reveal itself in all its icy beauty with the orange Mars staying just above it. And if you feel Winter is dragging on for too long, you can find some consolation in one of the first signs of spring, the constellation Leo, as it appears in the eastern evening sky, and clears the horizon by around nightfall at month’s end.

Star Constellation Leo - Global Star Registry

In the first week of February star gazers will be amazed at Gomeisa, the second-brightest star of Canis Minor, the little dog. It is now in the east at nightfall, above the much brighter Procyon, the constellation’s leading light. Gomeisa is several times larger and more massive than the Sun, so it will be easy to spot.

Another beautiful constellation – Pegasus, the flying horse, stands low in the west as darkness falls and sets before midnight. If you want to catch a glimpse of the mythological creature, simply look for four moderately bright stars that form the Great Square of Pegasus. And just a few short days before Valentine’s Day there will be a Faint Eclipse that will see the Moon lining up for a pass through Earth’s long shadow. As it will pass through the bright outer part of the shadow, few moonwatchers are likely to notice much difference.

Still, these and plenty of other twinkling reasons give you an excuse to head to The Raritan Valley Community College Planetarium in Branchburg. There will be several star and laser shows for the entire family in February that are sure to captivate the audiences with revealing secrets about our beautiful and mystic universe.

The Mars mission is drawing near!

The launch date for the highly-anticipated Mars mission is still a decade away but preparations are currently underway to make sure all goes as planned. NASA has announces they are in the process of weeding out volunteers, designing Mars space crafts and planning out the colony.

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Everyone is curious how the final round of astronaut selection will go since from the 200,000 who put their names down for a one-way trip to Mars – only 660 remain in the running. At the final round of the selection, candidates will be interviewed and have their skills of working in a group tested. Candidates will face harsh, hostile mock-up environment as part of their test to see what life on the desolate planet would be like. At the end of this process, Mars One will consist of six groups of four astronauts each that will start official training for the mission.
Although the first humans are not scheduled to travel to Mars until 2024, there are several missions that will be carried out beforehand to lay down the groundwork. In 2018 a lander will blast off for the Red Planet as a trial-run for vital technologies the mission will need. A communications satellite that will beam messages back and forth will accompany it. 2020 will see an intelligent rover and a trailer sent up there as well to scope a good landing site. This will be followed by six cargo missions to deploy another rover, two living units and two life support units. They will produce a breathable atmosphere in the Mars habitat with a total of 3,000 litres of water and 120kg of oxygen in storage.

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Mars One is still to announce the company that will be commissioned to build the actual rocket humans will travel with. The likeliest choices seem either Lockheed Martin or SpaceX. The trip itself will be made in stages, where the crew’s landing module and main living quarters will be sent into Earth’s orbit and docked together in 2024. Then, the crew will be launched into the orbit themselves, where they will get on board the waiting Mars space craft and head off for their destination.

As the Mars module detaches from the space craft, upon landing the crew will gradually descend onto the surface of the planet. There they will be picked up by the rovers and taken to the habitat. One of their first tasks would be to deploy more solar panels and start attempting to grow food on Mars before the second Mars One crew joins them in 2027.

Celebrating Christmas with style

Every time we look up to the night sky we can’t help but trace all the stars we see shining bright. There is something peaceful, mystical and beckoning about those brilliant tiny specks that illuminate the darkest of our hours. There are 100 billion stars in our very own Milky Way galaxy alone and with the Christmas season just around the corner – what better gift than to name one after a friend, a loved one, a relative or a colleague? There are so many reasons to sprinkle some star dust on someone this holiday season! We are sure that anyone of us has closest people that deserve to be treated in a special way. And with some moments in our life happening only once, such occasions require unique approaches to make these events all the more memorable.

christmas celebration

When you buy a star for someone, you’re really showing them in a very intimate and romantic way that they mean the world to you. It’s a gift that they’ll be able to share with their loved ones, and it can come from feelings of love, friendship, affection, or even grief. There is a reason people like to hold on to all those treasured keepsakes from friends and loved ones – long after they have left their lives. We need to remember and we love to relive the feelings of closeness, intimacy, friendship and love. But what if there was a way to think of someone every time you raise your eyes to the starry sky? Up there, where amongst the many, there is one little twinkling star that shines all for you? Then that would make everything so much more special…

christmas celebrationChoose from our star registry service that names clearly visible stars that will follow you wherever you go into the night. You can find and easily retrieve the stars we name at the Star Register page. After you purchase a star as a gift, you can even add a personal message and dedication to make this a truly unforgettable experience for someone.

Since celebrities started the trend of star-naming it is only becoming more and more popular as other people are joining in the exclusive way to commemorate a birthday, a wedding, an anniversary or the spirit of the Christmas holiday! It is the perfect way to truly leave your mark on the Universe in a way…Many things have come and gone, but history remembers Sirius and all other brightly lit stars that we continue tracing on the sky. Why not build an entire constellation for you, your friends, and family that will keep you looking up every night, from any point of the globe, and feel the love, friendship and closeness – no matter the distance?

In the season of corporate parties and gift giving, you can step outside of the box and ditch worn-out ideas like coffee mugs and novelty items with something that will be the topic of the office well into the New Year. There are few things that people will enjoy more than having their very own star named after them. This is your chance to spread some Christmas joy!

Black Friday 2016 – History and Hype

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For millions of people Black Friday is synonymous with early Christmas shopping and there is a good reason for that. No longer than a week after Thanksgiving and the shopping craze is drawing everyone in. Black Friday is known as the first Friday after Thanksgiving, and it’s one of the biggest shopping days of the year in the United States. Typically it falls anywhere between November 23 and 29. It is not recognized as an official US holiday but many employees have the day off with the exception of those working in retail (for obvious reasons).
The term “Black Friday” first came into use in the 1960s to mark the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. “Black” was a way to mark stores moving from “red” to “black,” back when accounting records were kept by hand, and red ink indicated a loss, and black a profit. Later, since the start of the modern Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, the first Friday after Thanksgiving came to be known as the unofficial start to a bustling holiday shopping season.
In the 1960’s, in a non-retail sense, it was also used to describe a financial crisis of 1869: a stock market catastrophe caused by gold spectators who tried and failed to wield the gold market, causing it to collapse and stocks to plummet.

A trend becoming a tradition

black friday

As more and more retailers came to realize they could attract large crowds by discounting prices, this marked the conversion of Black Friday into a day to shop for the upcoming Christmas holidays. Some retailers would put their items up for sale on the morning of Thanksgiving, or send online specials to consumers weeks before the actual event. The most in-demand items are electronics and popular toys, as these are the ones that are usually the most drastically discounted. No other time of the year sees prices across everything from home furnishings to apparel – slashed on such a scale.
While it was originally a US-based event, in the past few years this new tradition has travelled oversees to Europe and continued to expand well into Latin as well as Eastern European and Asian countries. Most retailers have started to open up at 5 am or even earlier on Black Friday to accommodate the hordes of people queuing anxiously outside the windows. Most large ad scans, coupons and offers are put online beforehand to give consumers time to find out about sales and plan their purchases. Some companies, however, hold off that information until the last possible moment to release their Black Friday ads to create a buzz.
As consumer buying habits are changing and more consumers are choosing to shop online, retailers are changing their marketing tactics as well. They roll out “door-buster” deals, such as large flat-screen televisions or laptops for as little as a hundred dollars to draw shoppers to their stores.
The benefit of online shopping is that customers can track stock levels and avoid large crowds that often turn violent. It is a good idea to check for pre-Black Friday or special Thanksgiving sales, so you may not even have to wait until the big day to shop at discounted prices. We hope you enjoy Black Friday 2016 and do not forget to take a look on our Star Kit and our special offers!

What is the Supermoon – The phenomenon explained

This November 14 was an event in every star gazer’s calendar as the world got to enjoy the brightest and most spectacular supermoon in almost 70 years. The phenomenon lit up the sky as it was the first time that a completely full moon has come this close to Earth since 1948. Anyone who didn’t catch a glimpse of the nightly sight will have to wait until 2034 when the next one is expected.

But what exactly is a “Supermoon”? According to scientists, this is a phenomenon that sees the moon slightly closer to Earth in its orbit than average, which leads to a particularly visible effect when this coincides with a full moon. This makes the moon appear bigger and brighter even though the difference in its distance from Earth is only a few percent at such times.

supermoon

Dr Daniel Brown, an astronomy expert at Nottingham Trent University, said: “Observing the supermoon is easier, as the moon remains visible throughout the entire night. As it is nearing winter, it will also be reaching its highest altitudes for the northern hemisphere.”

A supermoon phenomenon occurs when the full moon is within 10% of its closest approach to Earth, perigee, during its orbit. Despite not being particularly rare – coinciding with full moon is a very unusual occurrence and one that is worth observing. The gradual effect that happens once a month means that the moon will appear 14% bigger than its smallest size during the month.


Supermoons are known to bring larger tides because a closer Moon exerts a stronger gravitational pull and creates more variation between the tides. However, despite sensational newspaper titles – this variation is hardly enough to account for massive earthquakes, flooding, or volcanic eruptions.

The effects on Earth from the phenomenon are minor, and based on data from terrestrial seismologists and volcanologists, the combination of the moon’s proximity to Earth in its orbit, and being in its ‘full moon’ configuration (relative to the Earth and sun), does not have any significant effect on the internal energy balance of the Earth since there are lunar tides every day.

Coined by astrologer Richard Noelle in a 1979 article he wrote for Horoscope magazine, the term ‘Supermoon’ describes “a new or full moon which occurs with the Moon at or near (within 90 per cent of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit.”

Although originally this name didn’t get much traction, it has since become ubiquitous with skywatchers eagerly anticipating the next supermoon phenomenon.

Famous People Born Under the Zodiac Sign of Scorpio

Are there any celebrities, actors, musicians, politicians or sports stars born close to your birthday, or even on the exact day? Below you will find a listing of famous people born under the zodiacal sign of Scorpio. While some people do not pay much mind to astrological signs and their corresponding meanings, others find it fun and interesting to learn what personality and character traits they share with some of the most famous.

Of course the Scorpio sign is symbolized by a Scorpion, which seems a bit frightening in itself. Those born under this sign are often stubborn, cruel, jealous, possessive and go to extremes. That being said, they have some great characteristics as well which include the ability to focus, determination, charisma, complexity and emotional sensitivity. Do these traits remind you of yourself? Let’s have some fun now and find out who those well-known people are who share your birth sign!

demi mooreSome well-known television and movie actors and actresses born under the 8th sign of the zodiac include Julia Roberts of “Pretty Woman” fame who was born on October 28th, Henry Winkler (the Fonz from Happy Days) was born on October 30th, Sally Field “The Flying Nun” born on November 6th, Richard Dreyfuss born on October 29th, Leonardo DiCaprio born November 11th, Demi Moore also born November 11th, David Schwimmer of “Friends” fame born November 12th, Whoopi Goldberg born on November 13th, Owen Wilson born on November 18th, Jodie Foster born November 19th and Goldie Hawn born November 21st.

Hillary ClintonOthers who join this prestigious list of famous Scorpios include Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, born on October 26th, famous jeans designer Calvin Klein born on November 19th, Larry King, host of “Larry King Live” born on November 19th, and director Martin Scorsese who was born on November 17th.

England’s Prince Charles was born November 14th, and billionaire businessman Bill Gates on October 28th. Painter Pablo Piccaso is another well-known Scorpion, born on October 25th. As you can see, there are many important and influential people born under the zodiacal sign of Scorpio!

Have you found anyone in this list that shares your birthday? Many great people were born between the dates of October 23rd and November 21st! Comparing notes between yourself and those who are “famous” can be fun and enlightening. Do not forget also PewDiePie, Drake, Katy Perry, and Kendall Jenner! Hope you have enjoyed this list of famous people born under the zodiac sign of Scorpio!

5 Wedding Gift Ideas

Below you will find 5 wedding gift ideas that are unique, thoughtful and even a bit offbeat! If your best friend, sister, cousin or a close co-worker is getting married, you want to give a gift that is beyond the ordinary. While towels, toasters, wall decor and kitchen gadgets are the normal wedding gifts, you want something that will really be used and appreciated by the bride and groom – instead of stuck up in the top of a closet!

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Let’s take a closer look:

1. Gift card for a home improvement store. Many couples spend their first year or so fixing up their new home. They may need to paint, add new trim around the windows, change the bathroom floor out or any number of things to make the home their own. Instead of sheets, give them a gift card to the local Home Depot or Lowe’s.

2. Home office supplies. Today, nearly every home has a home office where you usually find a desk, computer, chair, file for the household bills and other things. Instead of a toaster, why not get a shredder, some computer equipment or even an ergonomic chair? If you don’t know exactly what to get, give a gift card for Staples or any office-supply store that carries a large selection.

3. Entertainment collections. Many people are huge music and movie fanatics, and some love reading as well. The wedding couple may enjoy non-traditional movie or music collections, or even a selection of coffee-table books.

4. Day at the beach. If the wedding couple lives in an area where the beach is within driving distance, give them a gift they will really appreciate! Put together a package consisting of beach towels, a straw tote, cooler, drink cups, paperback books and a clip-on beach umbrella. Outdoorsy types who love the sun will appreciate this gift perhaps more than any other they receive.

5. Date night coupons. Sometimes after people marry, they tend to forget about setting apart time to go on a “date”. Give them tickets to the movies, a sports event, the theater – and throw in a gift card for a fancy restaurant so they can make an entire evening out of it!

These 5 wedding gift ideas are some of the best you will find. Why choose the same old traditional gifts when you can give the couple something they will really enjoy? S

till not happy with the suggestions above? Check our Star Kit Packages Show them that you really put some thought and consideration in to their special day and new life together.

Do Stars Within A Galaxy Touch One Another?

Many body problems with contact forces, like grains of sand on a beach, are quite hard to solve satisfactorily with a computer. Is there a similar problem with galaxies where the stars are in gravitational contact, and could that be a factor in the problem with the galactic rotation curves not turning out as expected?

Grains of sand are still pretty tricky to model as convincing-looking sand. And as much as we use grains of sand as a metaphor for the number of stars in a galaxy, stars and sand can be a pretty poor comparison if you take the metaphor too far. Galaxies may appear to be solid objects in our skies, with tightly packed clusters of stars, but in fact, galaxies contain huge amounts of empty space. The problem is that for most galaxies, we don’t have the observing power required to distinguish the individual stars, and so the stellar multitudes blur their light together.

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If we start to look around within our own galaxy – for instance around our own solar system – we can get a handle on just how much empty space we’re dealing with. Our Sun lives about two thirds of the way out from the center of our galaxy, so while we’re certainly not in the densest part of a galaxy, we’re by no means in a particularly vacant neighborhood either. The nearest stars to us, Alpha Centauri and Proxima Centauri, are 4 light years away. And looking at the diagram, you can see that that 4 light year distance is about as closely packed as the stars get in our neck of the galactic woods.

Now, Alpha Centauri raises an interesting point – Alpha Centauri is actually two stars. This is not uncommon in a galaxy. The two stars orbit each other as a binary system, and those two stars together travel around the galaxy’s core. However, the two stars are really not very close to each other at all. The two stars in Alpha Centauri are typically somewhere between 1 million miles and three million miles apart. That’s enough space to fit at least half our solar system between the two stars. At their narrowest, the two stars are separated by the distance between the Sun and Saturn.

Source: Jillian Scudder, PhD, Forbes – http://www.forbes.com/sites/jillianscudder/2016/10/16/astroquizzical-stars-touching/#6b0e19612184