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From 1975 to 1995 Florida was amongst the only four states that did not have any earthquakes; however, our state has not escaped all seismic shocks. For instance, in 1866, an earthquake in Charleston, South Carolina (two states away!) sent shocks throughout northern Florida and along its east coast. Of course this is nothing compared to the near 10,000 earthquakes of varying magnitudes occuring EACH year in southern California – luckily our state is not located on any hazardous faults or fault zones! If you want to see earthquakes and other forces of nature in action, check out the newest giant screen film playing at the Dr. Phillips CineDome, Forces of Nature.


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Before the invention of telescopes, viewing stars was a difficult task because they blurred together in a white streak formation across the sky. An ancient Greek myth states that this white streak was coined ‘Via Galactica’ or “road made of milk” and is how our galaxy came to be known as the Milky Way.

Milky_Way

Our solar system, along with hundreds of billions of stars, clouds of dust and gases lie throughout our Milky Way Galaxy. Imagine the galaxy like a pancake being stretched, with a huge bulge forming in the center. From there, huge groups of stars and dust particles fan out from the center, generating a spiral of curving, coiled and patterned arms.

Sometimes parts of the Milky Way can be viewed with the naked eye. On very clear, dark nights it appears as a band of milky starlight stretching across the sky. So the next time you look up at the night sky, you will know that the Milky Way is so much more than a candy bar!


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Measuring and evaluating the brightness of stars can be traced back to the Greek astronomer and mathematician Hipparchus during 190 - 120 BC. He is responsible for producing a catalogue of comparative brightness and positioning of over 850 stars. Hipparchus formed the apparent magnitude scale to determine the brightness of a star as seen by an observer from earth.

How does this scale work? The brighter the celestial object appears, the lower the value of its magnitude. For instance, the faintest objects you can see using the naked eye are indicated with a magnitude of 6, while the Sun on the apparent magnitude scale is –26.74. However, most of the stars we gaze at in an urban neighborhood with our eyes are usually somewhere around 3 to 4 and if using binoculars, the limit is 10. More recently, through the use of the powerful Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have located stars with magnitudes of 30+. It is this basic classification from over 2,000 years ago that led to the magnitude scale that we still use today!


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Discovered in 1986 by Australian astronomer Malcolm Hartley, comet 103P or Hartley 2 is set for the closest encounter with earth in 24 years. This “dirty snowball” that is comprised of rock, dust, ice and frozen gases was visible in the constellation of Auriga as a fuzzy, green blur to Northern Hemisphere observers during Mid-October.

Through November, Southern Hemisphere stargazers can catch a glimpse of the comet as it travels away from earth, using the naked eye, binoculars and of course, a telescope. This year, Hartley 2 made its closest pass at a mere 11 million miles on October 20th and is calculated to orbit the Sun every 6 ½ years. EPOXI, or Extrasolar Planet Observation and Deep Impact Extended Investigation is a spacecraft that is due to make a flyby of Hartley 2 from only 600 miles away on November 4th. The mission plans to gather information on the comet’s surface and craters, as well as close-up images of dust and gas plumes.

Check back on our web site for "post fly by" information and updates!


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Explore the Science of Monsterology

A fun, safe place to trick or treat for the whole family
Sunday, October 31, 12:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Orlando, FL - October 22, 2010 - Are you looking for a safe place to take your children during the spookiest time of the year? Kick off Halloween with a fun filled family event at the Orlando Science Center’s Seventh Annual Spooktacular Science Extravaganza. On Sunday, October 31, from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., come join us for a whole days’ worth of activities and events that provides a safe environment for little phantoms to explore the science of Monsterology.

Experience the true essence of Halloween by coming to the Orlando Science Center dressed up in your scariest, creepiest and most ghoulish costume. Listen to Halloween music throughout the building as you learn how to make “Ghost Goop”, have an educational team demonstration about snakes and scorpions, witness a Gator creature feeding, learn all about blood, scabs and bruising and let out your inner spooky scientist as you watch experiments about dry ice and liquid nitrogen.

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It’s Also Walmart $5 Day! See Everything at the Science Center for Only $5

All the exhibits, films and live programs plus all the eco-friendly activities, thanks to the Walmart Foundation
Saturday, October 16 only, 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

WHO: Guests coming to the Orlando Science Center for Greenovations will get to make cookies using solar ovens!

WHAT: During Walmart $5 Day, all visitors get in for only $5 and get access to all the Science Center’s engaging exhibits and films plus enjoy activities and displays during Greenovations - a day-long exploration of renewable energy and green living.

WHEN: Saturday, October 16 - 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

WHERE: Orlando Science Center, 777 East Princeton Street, Orlando - Solar Ovens will be set up on the fourth floor terrace.

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Florence, Fernand, or Fiona? What determines the name of the latest Atlantic tropical storm?


During World War II, meteorologists started the trend when they began using female names to identify storms. This was a lot simpler than distinguishing by longitude and latitude, especially when more than one storm occurred at the same time. A few years later, the National Hurricane Center created six lists of women’s names from A to W; male names were added in 1979 to alternate with the female names (ex. Alex, Bonnie, Charley).  Some hurricane names have been retired because of their severeness and replaced with other names of the same gender and beginning letter. To see if your name will be used or has been used for a storm, click here. Also, be sure to check out the latest giant screen film playing at the CineDome, Forces of Nature, featuring the biggest, baddest earthquakes, volcanoes, and storms.

 

Hurricane

Photo courtesy of NASA.


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777 E. Princeton Street • Orlando, Florida 32803 • Phone: 407.514.2000 • TTY: 407.514.2005 • Toll Free: 888.OSC.4FUN • Email: [email protected]
  Orlando Science Center is supported by United Arts of Central Florida, host of power2give.org/centralflorida and the collaborative Campaign for the Arts.
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