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March 18, 2002
Mark Hess Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. (Phone: 301/286-8982) RELEASE: 02-57 MARCH 20 IS NATIONAL SUN-EARTH CONNECTION AWARENESS DAY The second annual Sun-Earth Day will "Celebrate the Equinox" on March 20 with programs and activities at NASA Centers and a two-hour televised webcast featuring discussions on the Sun's connection to the Earth through images, cultural parallels and activities that Native Americans have used to share Sun-Earth science through several generations. Groups in classrooms, museums, shopping malls, planetariums and auditoriums around the world will participate in SunEarth Day -- a celebration of the Sun, the space around the Earth (geospace) and how both affect life on the planet. Nearly every NASA Center and NASA Educator Resource Center has planned an event for science teachers and students or for the public in conjunction with Sun-Earth Day. Specifically, more than 4,500 science teachers have been invited to education workshops related to the science of the Sun-Earth connection. NASA Television will air the special two-hour webcast on March 20 from 1 to 3 p.m. EST. Host Paul Mortfield, an astronomer from the Stanford Solar Center in Stanford, Calif., will be joined by students at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., to share the results of activities designed to learn more about the Sun. The webcast will begin with an explanation of the Lakota celebration of the equinox at Harney Peak, S.D. This introduction will include Lakota cultural parallels to the science of the Sun. The program also will feature a discussion with Astronaut John Young -- who made his first trip to space in a Gemini two-man capsule, walked on the moon
on Apollo 16 and commanded the first space shuttle flight -about the effects of the Sun on space travel. Another activity will be "Telescopes in Education," in which participants will turn solar telescopes toward the Sun and explore the only star that can be studied up close. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., will host more than 60 children from Eliot Middle School. Via the Internet, the students will operate a telescope located at Mount Wilson Observatory, high above the Los Angeles basin in the San Gabriel Mountains. The Telescopes In Education program allows educators and students around the world to remotely control researchquality telescopes and cameras created at JPL and located at the Mount Wilson Observatory. All they need is a computer with a modem and special astronomy software. The Sun-Earth Day event is sponsored by NASA's Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum, Ames Research Center and the Stanford Solar Center. More information on the webcast can be found at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/sso/events/stanford_solar/sunearthd ay1.html More information about Sun-Earth Days events in other communities is available at: http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/sunearthday/ -end-