Check Out These Online Astronomy Classes and Contests

Here are a few upcoming and ongoing astronomy classes and photography contests that our readers may be interested in.

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Once a year, the One-Minute Astronomer — aka Brian Ventrudo — offers a detailed course called “The Art of Stargazing,” and you need to act fast on this one, as the final signup date is March 24, 2014. This 12-month course breaks down everything you need to know about stargazing into bite-sized pieces… detailed sky tours, choosing and using the best binoculars and telescope for you, and a smattering of science to help you understand a little about your place in the universe. It also shows you how to find and enjoy hundreds of achingly beautiful sights you will remember for the rest of your life.”

You have until noon (GMT) this Monday, March 24 to begin your personal odyssey through the heavens. As the Brian says, “You’ll come away from The Art of Stargazing with everything you need to become a skilled backyard stargazer.”

The cost is $197 USD, and there are payment plans, as well as a lifetime of followup information and email advisories. Get all the details here.

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As always, you can find other ongoing classes at the CosmoQuest Academy. They regularly have new classes as well as opportunities for citizen science with their Moon Mappers, Asteroid Mappers and Planet Mappers programs.

There are also two astrophotography contests going on right now:
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Ciel et Espace Photos in France is having their Photo Nightscape Awards, and are looking for submissions of Earth and night sky photos. Photos must be taken between January 1, 2014 and August 31, 2014. One photo submission per photographer, and all formats are accepted: panoramic, square, mosaics.

Prizes will be awarded Sunday, November 9, 2014 at the Rencontres Sky and Space (NCE) which will take place from 8 to 11 November 2014 at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie.

They have two categories: pro and amateur. Prizes include a trip to the Very Large Telescope from ESO, a trip to the Alqueva Dark Sky Resever in Portugal for first prizes, and second prizes are a pair of Binocular from Nikon.

The judge for the contest is Miguel Claro, whose astrophotography we feature often here on Universe Today.

Get more information and find all the rules here.

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A second photo contest comes from our friends at TWAN—The World At Night with their 5th annual International Earth and Sky Photo Contest, which is part of Global Astronomy Month in April 2014. The TWAN the contest is open to anyone of any age, anywhere around the world.

This year’s contest theme, “Dark Skies Importance,” has two categories: “Beauty of the Night Sky” and “Against the Lights.” Photos submitted to the contest should address either category: either to impress people on how important and amazing the starry sky is or to impress people on how bad the problem of light pollution has become. Both categories illustrate how light pollution affects our lives. Photographers can submit images to one or both categories.

Submitted photographs must be created in the “TWAN style” — showing both the Earth and the sky — by combining elements of the night sky (e.g., stars, planets, the Moon or celestial events) in the backdrop of a beautiful, historic, or notable location or landmark. This style of photography is called “landscape astrophotography”. This is similar to general “Nightscape Photography” but with more attention to the sky, astronomical perspectives, and celestial phenomena.

Find out more here.

Still Need a 2014 Calendar? Win “The Year in Space” Wall Calendar

If a 2014 calendar wasn’t in your holiday space stocking, here’s the perfect solution: this year’s edition of Steve Cariddi’s wonderful Year in Space Wall Calendar. It’s not too late to get your own copy, as 99% of 2014 is still remaining! Universe Today readers get a 24% to 41% discount and pay only $12.95 or less (using the current discount at this link), with free U.S. shipping and discounted international shipping.

But here’s your chance to win a copy! We’ve had two giveaways of this amazing calendar in the past month, but thanks to Steve, Universe Today now has an additional 5 copies to give away. To be entered into the drawing for our giveaway, just put your email address into the box below (where it says “Enter the Giveaway”) before Monday, January 6, 2014.

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This calendar is full of amazing color images, daily space facts, historical references, and it even shows you where you can look in the sky for all the best astronomical sights. It also has in-depth info on human space flight, planetary exploration, and deep sky wonders. This calendar is huge — much larger than a traditional wall calendar — and is the perfect way to start the new year.

Find out more about the Year in Space calendar here, and our thanks again to Steve for providing this wonderful calendar for our readers.

If this is the first time you’re registering for a giveaway from Universe Today, you’ll receive a confirmation email immediately where you’ll need to click a link to be entered into the drawing. For those who have registered previously, you’ll receive an email later where you can enter this drawing.

Win a Copy of The Year in Space: 2014 Wall Calendar

It’s back! And it’s full of amazing color images, daily space facts, historical references, and it even shows you where you can look in the sky for all the best astronomical sights. The 2014 version of Steve Cariddi’s wonderful Year in Space Wall Calendar is now available to order, and thanks to Steve, Universe Today has 5 copies to give away!

This giveaway is now closed.

This is a gorgeous wall calendar that has over 120 beautiful photos of space, as well as in-depth info on human space flight, planetary exploration, and deep sky wonders. This calendar is huge — much larger than a traditional wall calendar — and last year it was named “Science Geek Gift of the Year” at Alan Boyle’s NBC “Cosmic Log” website.

Other features of this calendar:
– Background info and fun facts
– A sky summary of where to find naked-eye planets
– Space history dates
– Major holidays (U.S. and Canada)
– Daily Moon phases
– A mini-biography of famous astronomer, scientist, or astronaut each month

For our giveaway, to be entered into the drawing, just put your email address into the box below (where it says “Enter the Giveaway”) before Monday, November 25, 2013.

If this is the first time you’re registering for a giveaway from Universe Today, you’ll receive a confirmation email immediately where you’ll need to click a link to be entered into the drawing. For those who have registered previously, you’ll receive an email later where you can enter this drawing.

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These calendars normally sell for $16.95, but Universe Today readers can buy the calendar for only $12.95 or less (using the “Internet” discount), and get free U.S. shipping and discounted international shipping.

There’s also the 144-Page Desk Calendar at a similar discounts.

You can preview the entire calendar at the Year in Space Calendar website.

It’s published in cooperation with The Planetary Society, with an introduction by Bill Nye. Our thanks to Steve Cariddi for providing this giveaway opportunity for our readers!

Announcing a New Comet ISON Photo Contest!

Universe Today is proud to announce that we are partnering with OPT Telescopes and SpaceWeather.com for a brand new Comet ISON Photo Contest, with over $10,000 in prizes to give away!

Comet ISON is one of the most anticipated sky events for years, and already astrophotographers have been busy trying to capture images of this comet. But as it gets closer to the Sun, hopefully it will become even brighter and visible to more people – not just the astrophotographers with the really great equipment!

This new photo contest features several different chances to win some great prizes, thanks to OPT Telescopes, the folks behind this contest. There will be a popular vote on Facebook with winners of first, second and third places, as well as images judged by a panel of experts with three winners in that category as well.

And so its not just about having great equipment.  “It’s about the overall image and it can be in any ‘style’ at all,” says OPT Telescopes. “We’ve seen some amazing submissions shot with DSLR’s and point and shoot digital cameras in the past, and encourage everyone, regardless of skill level or equipment owned, to participate.”

Who can participate? Anyone aged 13 years and older who has a valid email address.  (Employees of OPT, Universe Today and Spaceweather.com are not eligible for entry.) Images must be the original work of the contestant.

The contest begins today, November 1st, 2013 and ends midnight December 31st, 2013. Winners will be announced by January 7, 2014.

There are two ways to enter:

  1. The first is through Facebook on this OPT Telescope page.  Entrants are required to submit their date of birth, email address, real name and technical information about their image and location captured, as well as “liking” OPT Telescopes on Facebook.
  2. Your image will become part of OPT’s Facebook gallery. One image, per day, per entrant is allowed.

  3. If you’d rather not go through Facebook, you may submit via email to this address. Emailed entries are also required to list date of birth, and information about their image in regard to equipment used and location captured.  All emailed submissions will be manually entered onto the OPT Facebook gallery to participate in the popular vote. Again, one image, per day, per entrant is allowed.

We also encourage those who enter to also upload their images to Universe Today’s Flickr Group page, so more people can see your images! We also feature many of the images uploaded there in our articles.

What are the prizes? As of November 1st, the prize donations are still rolling in!  We now have over $10,000 in astronomy gear to give away to the winners of this contest.  Final prize packages will be announced November 5th.  So, stay tuned.

See this page for complete details and rules.

Good luck and we can’t wait to see all your images!!

Giveaway: Win a Copy of “Five Billion Years of Solitude” by Lee Billings

A new book, “Five Billion Years of Solitude,” takes reader from the earliest SETI searches and discoveries in astrobiology to the latest detections of thousands of planets orbiting other stars — all while giving us a glimpse inside the minds of some of the field’s most notable scientists.

You can read our full review of the book here and our Q&A interview with author and journalist Lee Billings here.

Universe Today is proud to announce we have three copies of this engaging book to give away. The publisher has specified that for this contest, winners chosen from the US will be sent a copy of the book, while winners chosen from other countries will receive an ebook.

In order to be entered into the giveaway drawing, just put your email address into the box at the bottom of this post (where it says “Enter the Giveaway”) before Wednesday, October 16, 2013. We’ll send you a confirmation email, so you’ll need to click that to be entered into the drawing.

We’re only going to use these email addresses for Universe Today giveaways/contests and announcements. We won’t be using them for any other purpose, and we definitely won’t be selling the addresses to anyone else. Once you’re on the giveaway notification list, you’ll be able to unsubscribe any time you like.

Giveaway: Sky Live for iOS5 and Up

A new app called “Sky Live” was just released  from Vito Technologies and it will save you countless planning hours in your stargazing agendas. Vito Technologies, through a super-secret process, has discovered a way to give users a sky watching forecast anywhere in the world for up to 7 days in advance.

Were you planning a camping trip to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower? Is Venus going to be in the perfect spot in the sky to pull out your telescope and have a sky watching party? Sky watching is heavily dependant upon weather conditions and all that careful party planning is out the window when a bank of clouds settles in.

Universe Today and Vito Technologies is giving away 10 free copies of this app. How do you enter your name for this “appy” goodness?

In order to be entered into the giveaway drawing, just put your email address into the box at the bottom of this post (where it says “Enter the Giveaway”) before Monday, October 7, 2013. We’ll send you a confirmation email, so you’ll need to click that to be entered into the drawing.

More info on this app from the Publisher:

What it does: The main screen gives you one number: let’s say 78%.

Same as Fahrenheit degrees in weather, this percentage gives you at-a-glance info on how good tonight is for stargazing. The number is calculated with a special formula that takes into account things like is there anything interesting in the sky tonight, how cloudy, how bright is the Moon, etc.

Why it is different:

The formula for our Stargazing Index is superbly original and highly confidential. Combined with stunning space images, we hope this will be the most beautiful and accurate stargazing forecast on the AppStore.

Highlights:

– New app from the developers of Apple Design Award winning stargazing app with over 7 mln users

– Designed specifically for iOS7 (but will work on everything starting with iOS 5): blur and parallax, stunning graphics

– Detailed info on stargazing conditions for any location in the world for seven days ahead

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– Moon phases

– Rise, set, culmination/azimuth for the most important objects: the Sun, the Moon, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and the International Space Station

– Cloudiness

– Weather forecast

– Light pollution

– The International Space Station position over the map

– ISS crew data

Win a Copy of Homer Hickam’s “Crescent”

Homer Hickam’s latest series of books depicts life on the Moon in the next century. But it’s not a utopia. “Crescent,” the second book in the trilogy, includes battles against bioengineered beings and the hard life of mining helium-3. This series is written for young adults, but adults will enjoy the engaging characters, too.

You can read our full review and interview with Homer Hickam here.

Universe Today has four copies of “Crescent” to give away.

In order to be entered into the giveaway drawing, just put your email address into the box at the bottom of this post (where it says “Enter the Giveaway”) before Friday, September 20, 2013. We’ll send you a confirmation email, so you’ll need to click that to be entered into the drawing.

Win a DVD/BluRay Combo Pack of “Star Trek Into Darkness”

After its theatre debut in May of this year, Star Trek Into Darkness has blasted its way to the small screen with its release today on Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand. The new release features not only a high-definition version of the movie but the “extras” include behind-the-scenes footage, “making-of” details, and other special features.

“I’m excited for viewers at home to check out Star Trek Into Darkness on Blu-ray and DVD,” said the film’s director J.J. Abrams. “They did a great job and I’m thrilled with how everything looks and sounds. … I hope fans enjoy seeing the process that went into making the movie and the truly amazing work of our most spectacular cast and crew.”

Excitingly, Universe Today has three DVD/Blu-ray combo packs available to give away to our readers!

In order to be entered into the giveaway drawing, just put your email address into the box at the bottom of this post (where it says “Enter the Giveaway”) before Friday, September 13, 2013. We’ll send you a confirmation email, so you’ll need to click that to be entered into the drawing.

And then, we’re going to do something new and fun: Fraser will choose the winners and announce it on the Weekly Space Hangout on Friday the 13th (!) at Noon Pacific, 3 pm Eastern. You can watch here on Universe Today (we’ll be posting a live feed), over on our YouTube account, or on Google+.

Here are just some of the great features on this combo pack:

• Creating the Red Planet – Experience the creation of a never-before-seen alien world, as featured in the action-packed opening sequence of the film.

• Attack on Starfleet – Go behind the scenes with the cast and filmmakers and witness the creation of the shocking attack on Starfleet Headquarters.

• The Klingon Home World – Discover the stunning world of Kronos, and see how the filmmakers reinvented the Klingons for a new generation.

• The Enemy of My Enemy – Find out how, and why, the identity of the film’s true villain was kept a mystery to the very end.

• Ship to Ship – An in-depth and thrilling look at the filming of the iconic space jump sequence, which both defied the laws of physics and pushed the limits of visual effects.

• Brawl by the Bay – Sit in with Zachary Quinto and Benedict Cumberbatch as they revisit their intense preparation for the film’s breathtaking climax.

• Continuing the Mission – An inspiring look at the partnership between the film’s crew and the organization that assists returning veterans to find meaningful ways to contribute on the home front.

And yes, you’ll even get JJ Abrams’ trademark lens flares.

If you’d like to purchase Star Trek Into Darkness, check out Paramount Home Media or Amazon.

Check out our “spoiler-free” review of the movie here.

Giveaway: “New Frontiers of Space: From Mars to the Edge of the Universe” by Jeffrey Kluger and Michael D. Lemonick

You know that friend who’s hopelessly confused about science news, the one who asks classics like “didn’t we just send an SUV or something to Mars?” Are you that friend? Regardless of who it is, you’ve just found their next birthday present.

In TIMEnewest book, New Frontiers of Space: From Mars to the Edge of the Universe by Jeffrey Kluger and Michael D. Lemonick, readers learn just what’s been going on in our universe lately. The book seeks to “explore the latest scientific discoveries within our solar system and beyond,” and it does so with an approach that is unique and interesting for a number of ways – this is not your typical science read.

Continue reading the complete review here.

Enter to win one of two free copies of New Frontiers of Space: From Mars to the Edge of the Universe. How?
This Giveaway is now closed. Thank you for your interest!

In order to be entered into the giveaway drawing, just put your email address into the box at the bottom of this post (where it says “Enter the Giveaway”) before Friday, August 2, 2013. We’ll send you a confirmation email, so you’ll need to click that to be entered into the drawing.

 

Win a Copy of “Beyond the Solar System” for the Kids in Your Life

In reviewing the book “Beyond the Solar System: Exploring Galaxies, Black Holes, Alien Planets, and More; A History with 21 Activities” by Mary Kay Carson, UT writer Eva Gallant described it as “written for children and for the inquisitive child within us.”

Thanks to the publisher, Universe Today has three free copies of this book to giveaway — perfect for the kids in your life (even if that’s you!)

This contest will run for a week starting today, so get your entries in! How?

In order to be entered into the giveaway drawing, just put your email address into the box at the bottom of this post (where it says “Enter the Giveaway”) before Monday, June 19, 2013. We’ll send you a confirmation email, so you’ll need to click that to be entered into the drawing.

We’re only going to use these email addresses for Universe Today giveaways/contests and announcements. We won’t be using them for any other purpose, and we definitely won’t be selling the addresses to anyone else. Once you’re on the giveaway notification list, you’ll be able to unsubscribe any time you like.