Some collected astronomical news and detritus I've not yet mentioned:
- The space shuttle Atlantis is on the launch pad, ready to go and repair Hubble for the last time. Hmm, this sounds familiar. Oh, that's right. I blogged about it last September, before a communications failure led NASA to delay the mission. Now NASA has a spare data unit ready to go, the astronauts have trained on new procedures, and we are good to go for launch on May 12.
- Texas has finished revising its science education standards. It's been a long six months since my first blog post on Texas's revisions to its state science standards; revisions have now been finalized. I'm not as pessimistic as many other scientists are about the outcome. The final standards are not great and allow non-science far too much room to try and wriggle into the science classroom, but they are far better than they would have been without the united efforts of concerned citizens, scientists, and teachers. While this fight over standards was not a victory for science, it was not a victory for opponents of science. I look at the new Texas state science standard results with some grim satisfaction. The outcome could have been worse, far worse, for science.
- Galileoscopes are coming, just slowly. The Galileoscope, a high-quality, low-cost telescope kit developed for the International Year of Astronomy, has proven to be so popular that the small volunteer team filling orders has been overwhelmed. Frankly, I'm surprised that they allowed themselves to be surprised, but that's a discussion for post-project reviews. Galileoscopes will be shipped starting in late April. If you don't need a fine telescope, please consider donating money to purchase Galileoscopes for underserved children throughout the globe.
- Help support the AAVSO! The American Association of Variable Star Observers is a large network of primarily amateur/semi-professional astronomers that make detailed observations of variable stars (stars that change their apparent brightness). Many professional astronomers use AAVSO data in our analysis of these stars. Anyway, Sky and Telescope magazine is offering a special deal where you can subscribe or renew your subscription at substantial savings, and they will donate $5 to the AAVSO. See here for more details. (I apologize to the AAVSO that I can't post the advert here on my site due to restrictions imposed by the grant that pays for my webhosting.) Kudos to Mike Simonsen for working out what sounds like a great deal!