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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.

Day & Night

The line which divides day & night is called the terminator. As the Earth rotates counterclockwise, the terminator appears to move from east to west.

Graphic updated every 5 min. Click Refresh/Reload.
(Graphic produced using Xearth.)

30 JUL 2002
Click here to access 
real-time sunspot imagery...
Today's sunspot
number is

304 /
Sunspot No. Trend
(past 24 hours)
/ Increasing
-- Steady
\ Decreasing

Credits: Real-time image courtesy SOHO; sunspot number courtesy NOAA.

Updated: 29 JUL 2002

Today's Predicted
UV Index is

Valid for Wash., DC during
the Solar Noon hour on

30 JUL 2002
UV Index courtesy NOAA.

Today's Observed
UV Index is

Sandburg Planetarium
19 MAY 2002, 01:05 p.m.
Partly Cloudy
(Sun Transit: 01:05 p.m.)

UV Index Solarmeter
courtesy EPA
SunWise School Program

Today's Moon

Current Moon 
(Graphic courtesy US Naval Observatory.)

New Moon: Jul 10
First Quarter: Jul 17
Full Moon: Jul 24
Last Quarter: Aug 01
New Moon: Aug 08

Sandburg Center for Sky Awareness
A Fairfax County Public Schools Planetarium

Sky Awareness | Sun-Earth Connection | Rays Awareness | Tracking Satellites | GPS
00-01 Themes

Themes for 2001-2002

Increasing Your Sky Awareness

  • Top 10 Reasons to Look Up!
  • Basic Tools of the Skywatcher/Amateur Astronomer

    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 21-27, 2002. Its theme is: "THE SKY - Where Meteorology Meets the Heavens and the Earth."

    This year, Astronomy Week/Day precedes NSAW: Astronomy Week is April 15-21, 2002; Astronomy Day is April 20th. 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!
  • Weatherwise magazine Annual Photo Contest Winners: 1999; 2000; 2001; 2002; 2003
  • 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

Sun-Earth Connection

Rays Awareness™

Tracking Satellites: Natural & Man-made

    Natural Satellites
    The Moon is planet Earth's only natural satellite, revolving around the Earth once a month. Get to know some of its prominent surface features using the Skywatcher's Guide to the Moon (including a Printable Moon Map).

    Suggested Teaching StrategiesTeacher Tips: Students discover the month-long cycle of Moon phases (see sidebar, left) in the interactive online activity, Birthday Moons - It's Just a Phase You're Going Through... (recommended for Grade 3 and higher). For activity extension &/or enrichment, visit the Related Internet information resources Web page, featuring annotated links to a few selected Moon phase-related World Wide Web sites.

    Man-made Satellites
    International Space Station Hubble Space Telescope Be they faint streaks or brilliant flares, satellite observing is like watching man-made "shooting stars!" Track the International Space Station (ISS) in real-time. The NASA Liftoff to Space Exploration Tracking Web page makes it easy to locate some of the larger man-made objects in space, including the ISS, Space Shuttle (when in orbit), Hubble Space Telescope, or NOAA polar-orbiting weather satellites. Or use J-Pass Version 2.5 beta to calculate the next visible pass of these man-made satellites (your Web browser must support Java applets).

    A highly recommended non-NASA satellite tracking Web site, Heavens-Above provides daily predictions for all satellites brighter than a user-specified limiting magnitude (use 3.5 for light-polluted urban areas), as well as detailed star charts showing the satellite's track through the heavens. All Heavens-Above Web pages, including the graphics, are generated in real-time and customized for the user's location and time zone. "Anonymous users" will need to specify their location (once per session), otherwise it is unnecessary to become a registered user.

    Editor's Note: Under light-polluted urban skies, it is difficult if not impossible to see most man-made satellites. But at an apparent magnitude of -1, the International Space Station (ISS) is as bright as some of the visible planets--I have seen the ISS every time I looked for it!

GPS - The New North Star

  • The Degree Confluence Project - where geography and GPS technology intersect. Visit virtually all of the points where a line of latitude and longitude meet (integer degree intersections), or trek to locate the point of confluence nearest you!
  • Geocaching - the high-tech sport where you are the search engine! A handheld GPS receiver and a hunger for adventure are all you need to play this 21st century version of hide-&-seek.

Geoscience-Related Information Servers | Geosystems in FCPS