Education and
Public Engagement
at the Lunar and Planetary Institute

LPI Earth and Space Science Newsletter

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August 12, 2017 Perseid Meteor Shower

August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse visible across the US

September 15, 2017 Cassini plunges into Saturn's Atmosphere

September 30, 2017 Astronomy Day

October 8 - October 14, 2017 Earth Science Week

October 28, 2017 International Observe the Moon Night


Free Education Webinars From NASA Educator Professional Development
The NASA STEM Educator Professional Development Collaborative at Texas State University is presenting a series of free webinars open to all educators. Join NASA education specialists to learn about activities, lesson plans, educator guides and resources that bring NASA into your classroom. Registration is required to participate.


SkyFest Family Event at Lunar and Planetary Institute
The Lunar and Planetary Institute is holding a special SkyFest family event on July 28, 2017, from 10 am to 12 pm. All are welcome to this free event, which will feature solar system exploration activities. This event is being conducted by future teachers participating in the Solar System Exploration Pre-Service Teacher Institute at LPI. For more information, email

Eclipse Over Houston
The Lunar and Planetary Institute, in partnership with Levy Park and the Clear Lake City-County Freeman Branch Library, is helping Houstonians experience the eclipse over Houston on August 21, 2017. Join scientists and educators from the LPI at Levy Park and Freeman Library to witness this historical event! At both locations, safe, solar viewing glasses will be available.

Total Solar Eclipse
On Aug. 21, 2017, the moon will pass between Earth and the sun, creating a total solar eclipse visible along a narrow path stretching across the continental United States. The NASA eclipse page lists events, activities, inofrmation about the science, and more.


'Aurorasaurus' Project
Aurorasaurus is a citizen science project that gathers real-time data about aurora sightings and sends out notifications to users when the northern or southern lights are likely visible in their area. Registered users get location-based notifications and a real-time monitor of space weather activity.

Eclipse Over Houston Art Competition
Calling all artists, young and old, to submit original visual or literary artwork by August 1, 2017. Anyone in the Houston area can participate. Winners will be notified in mid-August and then artwork will be displayed at the Freeman Public Library, Levy Park, and the Lunar and Planetary Institute for at least 2 weeks, including during the Aug. 21st Eclipse festivities.

Contests of Earth Science Week 2017
Each year, many science teachers encourage students to participate in the traditional Earth Science Week visual arts contest, open to students in grades K-5, or the essay contest, which is open to those in grades 6-9. The photography contest is open to all ages. In addition, the Earth Connections contest calls for brief videos exploring Earth science. All eligible submissions must be received electronically by 5 p.m. ET, Friday, October 13, 2017.

National Fossil Day Art and Photography Contest
All are welcome to enter the National Park Service's National Fossil Day Art and Photography Contest. Entries should address the theme "The Future of Fossils: People Studying and Caring for Our Fossil Heritage." Artwork should focus on how people care for and learn from fossils. The artwork can be in the form of a photo, a painting, a drawing, or a sketch. All artwork must be 2-D and flat. The contest is open to any U.S. resident. Entries must be received by 5 p.m. ET, Thursday, October 5, 2017.

NITARP, the NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program, gets educators (formal and informal) involved in authentic, original astronomical research projects. Includes some funding for travel. Applications for the 2018 class are due September 19, 2017.

Citizen Science: Help NASA Find 'Planet Nine'
Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 is a new site for members of the general public to assist with the search for Planet Nine, and possibly celestial bodies between the orbit of Neptune and the closest star.

Fly Your Exoplanet on The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)
All ages are welcomed to submit a .pdf sketch or graphic to be included to fly aboard the the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) spacecraft while it searches the sky for new worlds outside of our solar system (called exoplanets). In the first-ever spaceborne all-sky transit survey, TESS will identify planets ranging from Earth-sized to gas giants and will orbit a wide range of stellar types and orbital distances. Submit your request via email by Nov. 20, 1027.


Shell Science Lab Challenge
The annual Shell Science Lab Challenge Competition recognizes exceptional and innovative science educators for their exemplary approaches to science lab instruction utilizing limited school and laboratory resources, and raise awareness and exposure of the outstanding work being done in the science education field. Application deadline: December 15, 2017.

Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching in Texas
TMA is accepting nominations for the 2018 Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching. Texas full-time public and private school science teachers with a minimum or two years' completed classroom experience, who will be teaching in 2018-2019 are eligible. $60,500 will be awarded to outstanding Texas science teachers. Nomination deadline: Nov. 17, 2017

Texas Environmental Excellence Awards
The Texas Environmental Excellence Awards honor environmental projects that exemplify that timeless Texas spirit. Application deadline is September 29, 2017.

Toshiba Grants for Grades K-5
K-5 grade teachers are invited to apply on-line for a $1,000 Toshiba America Foundation grant to help bring an innovative hands-on project into their own classroom. Applications are due Oct. 1 each year.

Toshiba Grants for Grades 6-12
Toshiba America Foundation accepts applications from teachers who are passionate about making science and mathematics more engaging for their students. Grant requests for less than $5,000 are accepted throughout the calendar year; grant requests for more than $5000 are accepted June 1 and Nov. 1.


Mars Survival Kit: Lessons and Activities to Guide Your Exploration of Mars!
The Mars Survival Kit is a collection of educational activities for students in grades K-12. Each educational activity includes a brief description, as well as information about how the activities and lessons align to the Next Generation Science Standards.

The Vanishing Sun: Eclipse Tales from Around the World
This set of a dozen multi-cultural eclipse folktales were recorded for a variety of ages and audiences by professional storytellers Cassandra Wye and Fran Stallings at the request of the Lunar and Planetary Institute.

Visualizing Earth Systems
Explore human interaction with the natural world through "Visualizing Earth Systems," a recent addition to the Earth Science Week website. The page links you to dozens of recommended visualizations dealing with energy, climate, minerals, water, hazards, and other topics linked to humanity's relationship with the planet.

Real World: Earth Systems
Check out video segments that connect classroom mathematics to current careers and innovations designed for students to develop an appreciation for mathematics through real-world problem-solving.

Easy Citizen Science for Your Audiences
Want to be a citizen Earth scientist? Join GLOBE Observer, download the app and use it to observe the environment wherever you are. Submit your observations and help students of all ages do real scientific research as part of the GLOBE Program.

Totality by Big Kid Science
Want to witness the coast-to-coast solar eclipse of 2017? Totality by Big Kid Science is the FREE app that will tell you when, where, and what you’ll see on eclipse day. The cool iTunes app offers an interactive map to show the eclipse circumstances at any location, along with buttons that use GPS to show you the circumstances at your current location and to identify the nearest location that is on the centerline of the totality path.

Make Ultraviolet Handprint Art
Make handprint art using ultraviolet light! In this cool activity, see how sunscreen can be used to block the sun’s ultraviolet light rays.


10 New Planets in Stars' Habitable Zones
In the most recent catalog of exoplanets discovered by the Kepler mission, ten planets were rocky planets comparible in size to Earth and orbiting within their star's habitable zones--a distance where surface temperatures are warm enough to support liquid water.

Hubble Finds Dead Galaxy
Astronomers have found the first example of a massive, fast-spinning disk-shaped galaxy that stopped making stars only a few billion years after the big bang. This surprising discovery challenges the current understanding of how massive galaxies form and evolve.

Mission Finds Escaping Stars
The European Space Agency's Gaia spacecraft has found six new hypervelocity stars; one is moving so fast that it may eventually leave our Milky Way galaxy.

Early Mars May Have Migrated
A new model simulating the assembly of the solar system around 4.56 billion years ago, suggests that the Red Planet didn’t form in the inner solar system alongside the other terrestrial planets as previously thought. Mars instead may have formed around where the asteroid belt is now and migrated inward to its present-day orbit.

Milky Way in Cosmic Void
If the Milky Way exists in the biggest cosmic void ever observed, that could solve a puzzling mismatch between ways to measure how fast the universe is expanding. Astronomers have found that our galaxy has far fewer galactic neighbors than it should. Research shows a rise in density about 1 billion light-years out, suggesting the Milky Way resides in an abyss about 2 billion light-years wide.

NASA Spacecraft Spots Jupiter's Great Red Spot
Scientists have been wondering about the origin and nature of Jupiter's Great Red Spot for hundreds of years. On July 10, the Juno missiontook the best images of this massive storm.

Delaware-sized Iceberg Breaks Free from Antarctica
An iceberg roughly the size of Delaware has broken off Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf. Anticipated for weeks, the fracture is one of the largest calving events ever recorded. Scientists had been monitoring Larsen C since 2014, when they noticed that a crack in the ice shelf had grown roughly 20 kilometers in less than nine months. The ice loss dramatically alters the landscape of Larsen C, and may be a precursor to something much bigger, potentially the collapse of the whole Larsen C ice shelf.