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"We have always a resource in the skies. They are constantly turning a new page to view. The wind sets the types in this blue ground, and the inquiring may always read a new truth."
- Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

"My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky."
- The Rainbow, William Wordsworth

"Night is a shadow world. The only shadows we see at night are cast by the moonlight, or by artificial light, but night itself is a shadow."
- Soul of the Sky, Diane Ackerman

Visit the Sandburg Sky Poetry Web page, including CSMS student-authored sky poems.


The countdown is
complete. As of

01 JAN 2001
the actual new
millenium began.

Happy New

30 AUG 2001
Click here to access real-time sunspot imagery...
Today's sunspot
number is

Real-time image courtesy SOHO; sunspot number courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Updated: 29 AUG 2001

Sandburg Center for Sky Awareness
A Fairfax County Public Schools Planetarium

Click buttons to stop and restart the music; click/drag volume slider. Click [Play] to spawn an external audio control panel; click [Stop] for a no-music version of this Web page.

Themes for 2000-2001

Increasing Your Sky Awareness

  • Top 10 Reasons to Look Up!

    Tune in to the sky...Are you aware that the sky is on the air?
    Huh? Look, listen (with RealPlayer), and enjoy the online version of the following sky awareness radio programs:

    • The Weather Notebook, A Radio Show about Weather and Everyday Life from the Mount Washington Observatory (home of the world's worst weather).
    • StarDate radio--the longest-running science feature in the country--is the daily astronomy-related radio program produced by the McDonald Observatory, University of Texas.
    • Earth & Sky @World of Science includes a link to "Tonight's Sky," featuring a sky chart generated by Starry Night Deluxe.

  • Do you remember how the sky looked this morning? How does it look now? Visit the WeatherNet4 CityCam Web site to see the current skyscape in Washington, D.C. You can also access the last three (3) hours of archived images, captured every 15 minutes (Netscape 4.x required).
  • The Sandburg Center for Sky Awareness proudly presents the State of Sky Kiosk--an online automated "slideshow" presenting a series of sky-related Web pages, featuring the current sky (day & night) as well as some of the sky's greatest hits. In a little more than 10 minutes, the kiosk provides a fairly comprehensive picture of, well, the current state of the sky. For some "slides," the content is "randomized," meaning that a slightly different Web page will appear during subsequent cycles through the slideshow. Just point your Web browser to the kiosk "splash" page, sit back, and enjoy!
  • Test Your Sky-Q (astronomy-related)
  • Look Up! Quiz and Sky Awareness Activities (weather-related)

  • Look 
Up!Plan to celebrate National Sky Awareness Week (NSAW), April 22-28, 2001. Its theme is: "THE SKY - Where Meteorology Meets the Heavens and the Earth."

    This year, Astronomy Week/Day coincides with NSAW: Astronomy Week is April 23-29, 2001; Astronomy Day is April 28th. For the first time, Astronomy Day has a special theme: "Sun-Earth Day." The NASA Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum has set up a special Web site providing Astronomy Day theme-related resources.

  • Clouds, clouds, and more clouds! And even more clouds!
  • Assuming the sky is cloud-free, approximately how many stars are visible in the night sky? Well, as you can see from a Light Pollution Map of the Washington, D.C. Area, that depends upon where you live. Fact of the matter is, in the most light-polluted areas of the region, only the 25-or-so brightest stars are visible! See what you're missing: visit your local planetarium.
  • Snowflakes - A Thematic Approach provides K-12 teachers with a flurry of ideas for using snow to deliver interesting and exciting interdisciplinary instruction perfect for the winter season.
  • Annotated links to a variety of other sky awareness resources

End of Century/Beginning of New Millenium?

    Celebrate twice if you like, but 31 DEC 1999/01 JAN 2000 is neither the end of the 20th century/beginning of the 21st century, nor the beginning of the new millenium! The end of the 20th century and the start of the new millennium are at the same time: that moment between 31 DEC 2000 at 11:59:59 p.m. and 01 JAN 2001 at 12:00:00 Midnight.

    This is simply because we started counting years with the number ONE, so the beginning of decades, centuries, millennia, and other time units is at the beginning of a year ending with a ONE, e.g., 2001.

    For more information, visit the United States Naval Observatory Web site, then follow the hyperlink to "Millenium Pages."

Solar Maximum

GPS - The New North Star

Geoscience-Related Information Servers | Geosystems in FCPS
American Meteorological Society DataStreme Project