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The Universe Forum's role as part of NASA's Education Support Network concluded in September, 2009. Please visit NASA at http://nasascience.nasa.gov/ for current information about NASA's science, education, and public outreach activities.

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events and happenings
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Cosmic Questions at the 'Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai'i
The Universe Forum's traveling exhibition, Cosmic Questions: Our Place in Space and Time, is now on display at the 'Imiloa Astronomy center for Hawai'i in Hilo.

Full of hands-on interactive displays, the exhibit offers visitors a chance to:

  • Go beyond the visible and observe what the Universe would look like if we could see infrared light or X-rays.
  • Journey to a Black Hole and study it from a virtual orbiting observatory.
  • Discover what it's like to be an astronomer - make the acquaintance of observers on a Hawaiian mountaintop or a team launching the Chandra X-ray Observatory into space.
  • Program a remote telescope to take a picture of an object that you select.

Here's what visitors are saying about Cosmic Questions:

"The whole exhibit is space and the universe and a journey of discovery. We know a lot [but] we don't know a lot. The exhibit gets that across."  

From 9yr. old girl: "I learned that stars are going to explode some day, I thought they lived forever but they're going to explode....The exhibit helped me know what the universe was like because I didn't know it was so big, I didn't know there were so many stars. ..it made me really think about it."

"I didn't know about dark matter or energy, it's a fascinating concept to me, I thought it was staggering."

"It means so much to me as a teacher to have meaty exhibits."

Find out more about Cosmic Questions at the 'Imiloa Center here: http://www.imiloahawaii.org/

- MicroObservatory Guest Observer Portal
The Universe Forum has created a new resource for exploring the universe. Using telescopes that you control over the Internet, you can request an image to be taken this very night and emailed to you within days. 

The MicroObservatory Guest Observer Portal features an easy-to-use interface for requesting your images and a series of activities to do with your image once they arrive. Investigate the objects in the universe from the comfort of your computer screen!

Visit the Guest Observer Portal and try out the newest activities: "Telescope as Time Machine," "Black Hole Hunt," and "Galaxies Galore." What will you discover about the universe?


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Swift Unlocks the Secrets of the Biggest Explosions in the Universe
On October 7, 2004, NASA launched Swift, a highly specialized space telescope designed to detect one of the most enigmatic and elusive mysteries of modern astronomy: Gamma-ray bursts.

A gamma-ray burst (GRB) is a sudden flash of gamma rays, lasting in most cases barely a few seconds. The flashes can occur anywhere in the sky, and happen about twice a day. Because they appear randomly and fade rapidly, most telescopes are too slow to respond. But Swift has lived up to its name, detecting, observing and reporting more than 100 gamma-ray bursts since its launch.

Using data obtained by Swift, scientists have been able to classify two families of GRBs. Long duration bursts, lasting about 30 seconds, are explosive deaths of giant stars. Short duration bursts, lasting under a second, are created in the catastrophic collision of a pair of neutron stars, themselves cinders of former giant stars. In both classes of GRB, the gamma-ray flash is the announcement that a new black hole has been born.

Learn more about Swift and gamma-ray bursts here: http://www.swift.ac.uk/grb.shtml
Get real-time updated on the latest gamma-ray burst events here: http://grb.sonoma.edu

Visit our Missions page to learn about other NASA probes and telescopes.

Archived Events and Happeningslink to top

science news
- image of black hole A complementary site to the Universe Forum. Go here for news and discoveries about NASA's exploration of black holes, galaxies and the evolution of the universe.
- image of mission The central news source for all the latest on NASA's voyage of exploration and discovery. Visit here for general space news, shuttle updates, space station, and future mission plans.
- image of mission The news page for NASA's exploration of the planets, stars and galaxies, and on the search for life in the universe. Go to this page to sign up for NASA news emails.
- chandra image Press releases from the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Go here to learn what discoveries are being made at the largest astronomy research center in the world.
- hubble image Latest news from the Space Telescope Science Institute. Go here to learn more about the Hubble Space Telescope and its latest discoveries. This is also a link to view new and favorite Hubble images.


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cosmic conversations
- If you have questions or suggestions for future "Cosmic Conversations," send them to seuforum@cfa.harvard.edu -
- image of bob kirshner We asked Bob Kirshner, Professor of Astronomy at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and co-discoverer of the accelerating universe, what "Big Ideas" were essential for understanding the structure and evolution of the universe.
See what he had to say.

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