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EIU Astronomy, Haiti and How you can Help January 14, 2010

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy, IYA 2009.
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As you saw in a previous post, we have a connection to Haiti, through the EIU Newman Center. Just this last week, Julia Novotny, a astronomy option physics major, and astronomy club member, was delivering five telescopes from the astronomy club to the schools around Barasa, Haiti. They just got back January 9th, safe and sound.

Julia and a teacher from Haiti, with one of the Galileoscope

After the Earthquake, Haiti is not so lucky. Here is a email I received from Roy Lanham today.

At the bottom you can see a list a of places and ways to help

1.  Ann Schwingel (EIU ALUM in Jeremie) emailed me late last night and she is fine.  Minor damage.  Asking for prayers.

2.  Sr. Mary, Patrick and Vivian and Matthew 25 (PAP)(use to be Visitation House) sent out an email this morning:  They are fine.  House sustained minor damage.  They have turned their house and soccer field into a field hospital.  Three Haitian doctors showed up and they are aiding the injured.  Asking for prayers.   Domo and his family are okay.  Gusnord our translator, Serge, Fritznor (translators from other trips) they have not heard from.  They don’t know if they are okay.  Please keep them in your prayers.

3.  Heard from the sisters in Gwo Mon.  They are okay.  minor damage. Some buildings collapsed in Gwn Mon.  Fr. Nesly is in PAP, but he is okay.  Asking us for prayers.

4.  Heard from Michael Ritter.  We are working with him on Gadyen Dlo (clean water)  He is okay.  He stayed in Boudin last night:  here are his exact words:  “I was thinking I would never experience a worst night’s sleep than when I was in Barassa.  I was wrong.”  The rectory was heavily damaged and they stayed outside.  Him and thirty haitians slept on the rocks.

5.  I have heard from Fonkoze.  It looks like everyone is safe, with the exception of some family members who died.  I think Leigh Carter from Washington DC is in Haiti and was injured.  Please keep them in your prayers.

6. We have heard nothing from the folks in Barassa and Fon Veret.  Here is hoping the quake did not do damage up there.  I will contact when I know.  Please keep them in your prayers.


I am going to make three suggestions:

1.  Keep praying.  For you Catholics please add in a prayer to Our Mother of Perpetual Help.  Mary, under this title is the patron saint for Haiti.

2.  For immediate impact:  Give to Catholic Relief Service, or any other aid agency you have come to know and love.  I do know that CRS have people on the ground right now in Haiti.  The devastation is immense, and they will be able to do much good.  You can go directly to www.crs.org.

3.  More long term, as in the weeks and months ahead:  We just don’t know where the long term needs yet.  They are huge even without such a disaster.  However, we are setting up an Earthquake Relief fund starting today.  This fund will be used as the picture becomes clearer in Haiti over the next couple of weeks with our partner groups.  The recovery obviously will be long term.  It will take years I am sure, but I am also certain that in the next couple of weeks direct aid will be needed for the folks we work with in Haiti.  These checks should written to Newman Haiti Fund with earthquake relief in the memo line.  I promise all this money will go to direct relief in Haiti as we see the picture in Haiti more clearly in the weeks to come.

I only have a few emails of HC alumni and others who are friends of Haiti.  Can you please, please pass this email onto other folks from your time here, or you might be interested in giving.

Blessings to you.
Rete ak Bondye,

Roy Lanham


Checks can be sent to Newman Center, 500 Roosevelt street, Charleston Illinois 61920,  made out to “Newman Haiti Fund” with earthquake relief in the memo line.

Even faster is crs.org. They have been lucky to still have facilities working after the quake, with feet on the ground.

For a list of other organizations you can go to CNN’s site of relief organizations


Thanks and Please Help,

Jim  Conwell

Happy New Year! IYA Ends, But The Spirit Lives On! January 1, 2010

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy, IYA 2009, Podcast, telescopes.
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Happy new year. While 2009 the International Year of Astronomy is Over , several project live on. One of these is the podcast, 365 Days of Astronomy . The Physics department has sponsored 12 of these in the last year, and we hope to sponsor 12 more in 2010.

Here at EIU we have many local projects, one is ongoing even as I speak. The Astronomy Club has finished putting together 13 Galileoscopes.  Five of these  are being delivered by  Julia Novotny ( and astronomy option physics major), in cooperation with the Newman Center Haiti Connection, to schools near Barasa, Haiti.

Hannah, Bob, Josh, Julia, and Tiandra with telescopes for schools

Hannah, Bob, Josh, Julia, and Tiandra with telescopes for schools

Five more will be assembled next semester, for a total of 13, to the the Carl Sandburg school, here in Charleston, Illinois

IYA PODCAST: The Celestial Alignment of 2012 December 6, 2009

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy, IYA 2009, planets, Podcast.
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December 5th’s Podcast

is sponsored by the Department of Physics at

Eastern Illinois University:

The Celestial Alignment of 2012….but not the one in the movies

An astronomical alignment in 2012 heralds the second coming (in the 21st century) of a significant global event. Share the enthusiasm of adventurous astronomers from the past as you witness the heavens in motion, the means by which we learned the size of our solar system—a transit of Venus.

Tuesday November 10: “Other Star Other Planets” November 9, 2009

Posted by jcconwell in IYA 2009, planets.
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IYA Poster #4a

Poster by J Boshart

IYA Talk: “OTHER STARS, OTHER PLANETS” in one week November 3, 2009

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy, IYA 2009, planets.
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“OTHER STARS, OTHER PLANETS”  by Jim Kaler Ph.D. , on Tuesday November 10th, 7:00 PM , Phipps Lecture Hall , Physical Science Building. Celebrating the International Year of Astronomy

Take a tour of our Solar System. Then gaze into the heavens and  wonder if it is replicated elsewhere. Are there planets in orbit around other stars? If so, how do we find them, what are they  like? In this talk we will explore not just “extra-solar planets”  (more than 400 found), but extra-solar planetary SYSTEMS, some of
which are beginning to look a lot like our own. Are there then “earths” among the crowd, and is there life? Let the stars themselves tell the story.


Other Stars, Other Planets

Jim Kaler Ph.D. Professor Emeritus of Astronomy at U of I
Past President Astronomical Society of the Pacific, author of over 120 research articles and 20 books,
Asteroid 1998 JK was named 17853 Kaler in honor of his outreach activities, and in 2008 he received the American Astronomical Society’s Education Prize.

Oblers’ Paradox Podcast! October 11, 2009

Posted by jcconwell in IYA 2009, Podcast.
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The October 10 podcast at 365 days of Astronomy is sponsored by EIU Physics department. Learn about Obler’s paradox, its solution, and what that means about the life of stars.



Astronomy Night at the White House October 8, 2009

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy, IYA 2009.
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Last night, October 7, President Obama hosted the first star party at the white house.

Open House Tonight! September 25, 2009

Posted by jcconwell in IYA 2009, telescopes.
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Rain or Shine! Come rotate the dome, and if the weather clears, which it looks like it will we will be looking through the 16″ telescope. There will also be other smaller  telescopes and giant binoculars. So come on by.

EIU Observatory

EIU Observatory

We’ve also had a lot of astronomy events last week.  Our thanks to Dr. Brian Field who packed the house with 88 people for last Thursday’s  IYA talk,  “When Stars Attack” .  Last Friday we had the faculty appreciation picnic and afterword, we opeded up the dome and had 98 faculty and staff, with their families, look at the majesty of Jupiter.

Sunspots at last & Astronomy Club tonight! September 23, 2009

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy, IYA 2009, Solar and Space weather.
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After many months of a dry season the first major group of sunspots for this solar cycle 24 have appeared around the bend. Now we can try our new solar filter for the 16 ” telescope….if only it would stop raining. To see more live pictures go to SOHO’s web site.

SUNSPOTs from SOHO 9/23/2009

SUNSPOTs from SOHO 9/23/2009

Also telescope training tonight at teh Astronomy club. Room 2153 physical science building at 8:00 PM.

“WHEN STARS ATTACK” September 16, 2009

Posted by jcconwell in IYA 2009, supernova.
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THURSDAY, Sept 17 in the Phipps Lecture Hall at 7:00 P.M

Crab Supernova.

Crab Supernova.

“When Stars Attack! In Search of Near-Earth Supernova Explosions,” a presentation by a University of Illinois faculty member, will continue Eastern Illinois University’s yearlong celebration of the International Year of Astronomy.

Brian Fields, associate professor of astronomy and physics at the U of I, is to speak at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, in the EIU Physical Science Building’s Phipps Lecture Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

In a supernova, a massive star is destroyed in an extremely powerful explosion, leaving behind a neutron star or a black hole. A shock wave carries the star’s ashes — newly created heavy elements — through space, stirring interstellar gas and, at times, spurring the formation of new stars. Fields will discuss how recent evidence suggests that radioactive iron atoms found deep in the Earth’s ocean are debris from a star exploding near Earth about 3 million years ago.

In addition to giving scientists a clue of what powers supernovae, the findings suggest that the explosion’s proximity to Earth might have had major results on the planet, Fields wrote. “An explosion so close to Earth was probably a ‘near-miss,’ which emitted intense and possibly harmful radiation,” Fields wrote on his Web site. “The resulting environmental damage may even have led to extinction of species which were the most vulnerable to this radiation.”

Fields’ presentation will be the first event of the fall semester in EIU’s yearlong celebration of the International Year of Astronomy. IYA is a worldwide commemoration of many historic astronomical achievements, including the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first look through a telescope and the 40th anniversary of man’s first steps on the moon.

EIU’s IYA events are sponsored by the EIU College of Sciences and the EIU Department of Physics.