Winning Space ‘Crafts’ Could Get a Ride on Shuttle

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If you aren’t yet familiar with Etsy, it is an arts and crafts goldmine where you can find almost anything your heart desires when it comes to handmade art, jewelry, knick-knacks, photography, clothing, quilts, toys and more. Not surprisingly, space exploration and astronomy is an inspiration for many crafters, and NASA and Etsy held a “Space Craft” contest, where contestants entered an original handmade item or work of art inspired by NASA programs, such as the space shuttle, human spaceflight, aeronautics, science and exploration of the universe, and the winners have now been announced.

I was thrilled to see the winner in one category, the 2D Original category, was this beautiful hand-embroidered representation of the Moon (above) – because not only was it my favorite in the entire contest, but I also know the creator, Rachel Barry Hobson. Her winning piece may fly on one of the final space shuttle flights.

I asked Rachel how she felt about winning, and she said, “I am truly humbled. When I created this piece, I worked from a place of pure passion and love for embroidery and space exploration. I love having the opportunity to use this medium to inspire people to fall in love with space, and to be recognized by peers and such a distinguished panel of judges is a huge honor.”

One of the judges was astronaut Steve Robinson.

Grand Prize Winner, Best of Show. Northstar Table by Colleen and Eric Whiteley. Image credit: Etsy

Other winners include Colleen and Eric Whiteley from Brooklyn, NY, who received the Grand Prize for Best of Show for their detailed design of the Northstar Table. The table features a North Star design that, when pressed, opens a hidden drawer.

Winner, 2D Reproduction. Universal Thoughts by Nikkita Karsan Bhakta. Image credit: Etsy

For the category of Two Dimensional Reproduction, “Universal Thoughts” by Nikkita Karsan Bhakta from Mobile, Ala., won the top prize.

Winner, 3D Original. Brother Sun, Sister Moon Ring by Partrick Burt. Image credit: Ets

Patrick Burt from Tempe, Ariz., won the Three Dimensional Original category with a Titanium ring titled “Brother Sun, Sister Moon.” The silver, gold and diamond embedded ring represents stars, the sun, moon, Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn.

NASA said their goal for the contest was to help inform Etsy’s 5.8 million members about the agency’s present and future exploration plans. There were over 600 pieces entered in the contest.

Rachel said she was inspired to capture the gorgeous textures and geologic attributes of the Moon in hand embroidery, as “the moon has always served as artistic and scientific inspiration for humankind. It’s easily recognizable, and is a comforting, welcome sight in our sky. Its violently beautiful craters remind us what an active place our solar system is. When I observe the Moon through my telescope, I literally get weak in the knees.”

Like many of us, Rachel said when she was young she dreamed of one day flying in space. “My life ended up taking me down a different path, and for a long time I thought there was no way I’d be able to participate in the space program,” she said. “Connecting with a great community of space enthusiasts online and finding a way to use my art to express my passion for space has helped me realize dreams I’d almost given up on. I’m so thankful for both the space “geek” community and craft community supporting my work and the work of so many incredibly talented Space Tweep artists.”

The grand prize team received a $500 shopping spree on Etsy and an all-expense-paid trip with a guest to attend the next shuttle launch at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Shuttle Endeavour and its crew are targeted to lift off on April 19. The winning two dimensional art piece (and pictures of the others) may be flown aboard the flight, or perhaps STS-135.

The winner of each category received a $250 shopping spree on Etsy and a gift package of NASA and Etsy merchandise.

Congrats on to the winners and hats off to NASA and Etsy for recognizing we all have our own unique way of expressing our spaciness!

Bonanza of Blu-rays to Give Away!

Thanks to the folks at A&E Home Entertainment, we have four different Blu-ray discs to give away to four lucky readers of Universe Today:

All on Blu-ray:

The Universe: Explore The Edges Of The Unknown The Complete Season Five
Ancient Aliens-Season One
Life After People: The Complete Season Two
How Earth Was Made Complete Season One

How to win one?

Just send an email to [email protected] with “Blu-ray Giveaway” in the subject line, and we’ll randomly choose 4 people to win one of the four discs. The contest goes until Thursday, Feb. 10 at 12 Noon PST.

Below is more info on each Blu-ray title, and click the links to Amazon to find out more.

The Universe Explore The Edges of the Unknown The Complete Season 5

It’s been 50 years since man ventured into the unknown, and the heavens are only now yielding their greatest secrets. Follow in the galactic path of THE UNIVERSE, which this season leads us even further into the world beyond our own.

From robotic rovers on Mars to NASA probes slamming into comets and deep space telescopes capturing violent images of the birth of stars, season five of this illuminating HISTORY™ series explores how these discoveries were made – and who made them. Dramatic CGI and interviews with expert cosmologists, astronomers and astrophysicists bring the history of the heavens down to earth and provide a glimpse into our future.

Ancient Aliens: Season One

Is it possible that intelligent life forms visited Earth thousands of years ago, bringing with them technology that drastically affected the course of history and man’s own development? Presented in the 1968 bestselling book Chariots of the Gods, by Erich von Daniken, the theory of ‘ancient aliens’ rocked people’s beliefs in mankind’s progress. Ancient cave drawings of strange creatures, remains of landing strips in Peru, and Indian texts that describe the ‘flying machines of the gods’ were just a few of the odd archaeological artifacts cited by von Daniken as proof that ancient astronauts were well known to our ancestors. Produced with the exclusive cooperation of von Daniken himself, ANCIENT ALIENS launches all-new expeditions to seek out and evaluate this evidence, with a concentration on discoveries of the last 30 years, including unusual DNA findings on man s evolution and newly decoded artifacts from Egypt to Syria to South America. It is a balanced investigation into a theory some believe cannot be true, but many agree cannot be ignored.

Life After People: The Complete Season Two

What would happen if every human being on Earth disappeared? This isn’t the story of how we might vanish – it is the story of what happens to the world we leave behind. The second season of the fascinating HISTORY™ series LIFE AFTER PEOPLE takes a stunningly graphic journey to a world wiped clean of humanity, using cinematic CGI to reveal – in scientific detail – the fate of every aspect of the man-made world, and how the landscape of our planet would forever change in our absence.

From animal outbreaks to massive structural collapses to hordes of toxins and chemicals unleashed across the globe, LIFE AFTER PEOPLE: THE COMPLETE SEASON TWO reveals what happens in the hours, days, months, and years after people disappear. Welcome to Earth, population zero

How The Earth Was Made: Season One

Spectacular on-location footage, evidence from geologists in the field, and clear, dramatic graphics combine in this stunning 13-part series from HISTORY™ to show how immensely powerful, and at times violent, forces of geology have formed our planet.

From the Great Lakes to Iceland, the San Andreas Fault to Krakatoa, HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE travels the globe to reveal the physical processes that have shaped some of the most well-known locations and geological phenomena in the world. With rocks as their clues and volcanoes, ice sheets, and colliding continents as their suspects, scientists launch a forensic investigation that will help viewers visualize how the earth has evolved and formed over millions of years.

Win ‘Distant Suns’ iPhone App

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It’s time to unleash your inner astronaut! The Distant Suns app has been around awhile and is one of the more popular astronomy-related applications for iPhone and now the iPad. It was originally a program for the Commodore Amiga computer in 1987, but now takes advantage of the latest hand-held technology. Distant Suns is an app for both serious astronomers and beginners (its very user friendly) and includes a wealth of information about astronomical objects and fun “fly to” features. Creator Mike Smithwick has just put out a new updated version of Distant Suns (version 3.1.4) and has given Universe Today 15 (count ’em! 15!) of this latest version to give away. This app regularly sells for $9.99, so this is a great chance to own one of your very own.

Just send an email with the subject line of “Distant Suns App” in the subject line to [email protected] and we will randomly choose 15 winners. UPDATE: The winners have now all been notified, and this contest is over.

For more information about the features and capabilities of Distant Suns, see the video below, or see the Distant Suns website, or the Distant Suns iTunes store page.

Distant Suns has gotten a 5 Star review from from ituneappreview.com, and 5 stars in phoneapplicationlist.com, and here’s a glowing review from OtherWorldComputing.

See NanoSail-D in Orbit, Win a Prize!

Looking for the orbiting NanoSail-D just got more exciting! NASA and Spaceweather.com have teamed up to offer prizes for the best amateur astronomy image of the now-orbiting and unfurled NanoSail-D solar sail. NanoSail-D unfurled the first 100-square-foot solar sail in low-Earth orbit on Jan. 20.

To encourage observations of NanoSail-D, Spaceweather.com is offering prizes for the best images of this historic, pioneering spacecraft in the amounts of $500 (grand prize), $300 (first prize) and $100
(second prize).

The contest is open to all types of images, including, but not limited to, telescopic captures of the sail to simple wide-field camera shots of solar sail flares. If NanoSail-D is in the field of view, the image is eligible for judging.

The solar sail is about the size of a large tent. It will be observable for approximately 70 to 120 days before it enters the atmosphere and disintegrates. The contest continues until NanoSail-D re-enters Earth’s atmosphere.

NanoSail-D will be a target of interest to both novice and veteran sky watchers. Experienced astrophotographers will want to take the first-ever telescopic pictures of a solar sail unfurled in space.
Backyard stargazers, meanwhile, will marvel at the solar sail flares — brief but intense flashes of light caused by sunlight glinting harmlessly from the surface of the sail.

NanoSail-D could be five to 10 times as bright as the planet Venus, especially later in the mission when the sail descends to lower orbits. The NanoSail-D satellite was jointly designed and built by NASA engineers from the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

To learn more about the NanoSail-D imaging challenge and contest rules, satellite tracking predictions and sighting times, visit this page about NanoSail-D. (not much info there yet as I write this….)

or see the NanoSail-D website for more info about the solar sail mission.

Win iPhone App for Observing: TeleCalc

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There’s a new observing app for the iPhone, iPod and iPad, called TeleCalc. Enter in two data points about your telescope (aperture and focal ratio) and two about the eyepiece (focal length and diameter) the program calculates angular field of view, best eyepiece magnification, resolution (Dawes, Rayleight), exit pupil, limiting stellar magnitude and light gathering power.

TeleCalc is available in eight languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Russian and Japanese. Search “TeleCalc” in iTunes to download it or find it on the iTunes store.

Thanks to developer Fabio Rendelucci who has given Universe Today 3 free TeleCalc apps to give away.

The first 3 people to answer the following question will be sent a code for a free TeleCalc app:

To find the magnifying power of any telescope, divide the focal length of the telescope by the focal length of the what other telescope piece?

Submit your answers in the “Comments”

Also, if you’re looking for more, take a look at all the apps that NASA has available for both iPhone and Android.

Contest: Win New iPhone/iPad Lunar Calculator App

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Love observing the Moon? There’s a new iPhone, iPod and iPad app that will provide everything you need to know. LunarCalc shows moon phases from any date between the years 1900 and 2200. It also provides ecliptic latitude and longitude, zodiacal position, distance from Earth, and apogee and perigee dates. The iPad version also provides moonrise, moonset and culmination, percent illuminated and lunation period.

LunarCalc is available in eight languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, German Portuguese, Russian and Japanese.

Courtesy of the app’s creator, Fabio Rendelucci, Universe Today has 3 LunarCalc apps to giveaway. The first three correct answers to the following question will win. Post your answer in the comment section.

Question: When will the next total lunar eclipse take place?

To find out more or to buy the app, search “LunarCalc” in iTunes to download it.

New Geography Trivia Challenge From Space

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You can now test your knowledge of the world’s geography in a new trivia game on Twitter sponsored by NASA and the astronauts on board the International Space Station. It is kind of like our own “Where In the Universe Challenge” but strictly of images from Earth, and in this contest, there are even actual prizes. Astronaut Scott Kelly started the game this week, which is Geography Awareness Week. His vantage point is perfect for hosting the game, as where else can you get a better view of the various geographical features on our planet than from the International Space Station?

First of all, you have to be on Twitter, and follow Kelly: @StationCDRKelly. He’ll post a link to an image he took, and the first person to correctly identify the place depicted in his photos will win an autographed copy of the picture.

“Expanding our geography knowledge is essential to our economic well-being, our relationships with other nations and the environment,” Kelly said. “It helps us make sense of our world and allows us to make connections between people and places. Space exploration is a global endeavor, and the International Space Station is the result of these connections.”

The new trivia game is a way to engage the public in the activities of the ISS, and the pictures that Kelly, and other astronauts take from the station aren’t all just fun and games. “From the cupola, which is much like a bay window in a house, we are able to take pictures for many scientific reasons, but also to share with the public what we are learning about the planet on which we live,” Kelly said.

See this link for a complete rules of the Geography Trivia from Space contest (pdf).

Kelly launched to the space station along with two Russian cosmonauts, Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka on Oct. 8. He is set to return to Earth March 16, 2011. The space station and its six crew members orbit the Earth more than a dozen times each day, traveling more than 320 km (200 miles) above Earth at 28,000 kph (17,500 mph).

For more info about the ISS, see this NASA webpage.

Contest: Win “Wonders of the Solar System” DVD


If you didn’t have the chance to see Brian Cox’s series “Wonders of the Solar System” which aired on the BBC earlier this year and the Science Channel in August, we’ve got some good news for you: it comes out on DVD and Blu-ray in the US on September 7. But there’s even better news for readers of Universe Today: We have five – count ‘em – five copies to give away, courtesy of the BBC and Bender Helper Impact marketing agency. “Wonders” is an extraordinary look at our world and solar system, and is rich with breathtaking images beamed back from the fleet of probes, rovers and telescopes currently in space, and is a “must-see” for any space and astronomy enthusiast.

To enter the contest, send an email to [email protected] with “Wonders DVD” in the subject line. Deadline for entry is Wednesday, September 8 at 12 pm PDT. Winners will have their choice of “Wonders” on DVD or Blu-ray.

See more info below about this remarkable series, including a video trailer that will give a taste of this great series.

Wonders of the Solar System” is a 3-disc set, and the series is presented by renowned physicist Brian Cox who will explore some of the most amazing features of our planet’s own backyard. Witness how forces of nature carved out beauty and order from the chaos of space and learn how our home planet is not isolated, but intimately connected with the rest of the solar system. Using the latest scientific knowledge, state of the art CGI, along with stunning images paired up with some of the most spectacular, extreme locations on Earth to help reveal wonders never thought possible. Included are two bonus programs, “What on Earth Is Wrong with Gravity?” and “Do You Know What Time It Is?”

See more about “Wonders” or you can put in an order to purchase on Amazon.

Contest: Win New Book About the Sloan Digital Sky Survey


UPDATE: The winner of the book is Irfaan Hamdulay from Cape Town, South Africa. Congrats!

A new giveaway for Universe Today readers! We’ve just reviewed a new book about the Sloan Digital Sky Survey called “A Grand and Bold Thing” by Ann Finkbeiner. It’s a great read about a great and visionary project — so how would you like to have your very own copy? Just send an email to Universe Today with “SDSS” in the subject line, and we’ll choose a winner. Deadline for entry is Monday, August 23, 2010 at 12 noon PDT.

By the way, we want to congratulate the winner of the Lunar Science Swag, Jesse Rogerson from Ontario, Canada!

Contest: Win Lunar Science Swag!

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I attended the NASA Lunar Science Institute’s Annual Lunar Forum last week, and the wonderful people from NLSI provided a very cool bag of goodies — including a great backpack/bag with the NLSI logo, a bookmark, luggage nametag, lanyard (including an official PRESS badge!), stickers and other informational handouts. We’re giving this prize package away to one of our readers! Just send an email to [email protected]
and put “Lunar Science” in the subject line. We’ll do a random pick from all the emails we get. Submit an email by Monday, August 2 at 12:00pm PDT.