Archive | September 2014

Flickr Astronomy: Earth shine


Flickr photo

In the above picture you see a dramatic twilight scene. Not only is the Moon visible but so is Venus, the bright dot. The real question is: why is more than just the crescent of the Moon visible? Well that’s light being reflected off the Earth onto the Moon. Pretty cool. This is called Earth shine.


Phonics By Spelling's Blog


Objective: Children explore the properties of magnets and experiment with magnetic fields.


  • magnets
  • iron shavings in a clear sealed container
  • steel marbles or BB’s
  • paint
  • construction paper
  • shallow box or tray large enough for a piece of construction paper
  • magnetic and nonmagnetic items
  • two large containers for sorting magnetic and nonmagnetic items.



  • Magnets attract objects made with iron, and they have two poles, a north pole and a south pole.
  • The opposite poles of magnets will attract each other, while the like poles will repel. Demonstrate this concept with two magnets
  • Magnets can pull through air, but some can also pull through solids and liquids. Demonstrate this concept by having a magnetic item be attracted through a piece of paper.
  • A magnetic field is the area around the magnet where it can attract or repel things. A magnet will affect a magnetic object only…

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Potatoes are the alternative fuel of the future

Bustin' the Blogosphere

If this were the 16th century, hoards of middle school students would be beheaded by the Church for witchcraft.

Building a potato clock is basically a prerequisite to graduating the fifth grade. It’s as cliche as building a volcano for the science fair you forgot about until the night before.

I’ll go on record and say I never believed this was actually possible. I don’t think it’ll work. I think this has been a giant conspiracy perpetrated by the Idaho farming industry to trick people into buying more spuds. Potatoes are not fuel sources and running electrical appliances should not be possible.

And if it does work, I’ll take a page out of the medieval Church’s playbook and just conclude that it must be some form of dark magic.

For the project, I used instructions from wikihow‘s article on building a potato clock.

  • 2 large clean potatoes, or 2…

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Flickr Astronomy: time lapse videos

Time lapse videos of the night sky can be really dramatic. Here the addition of the wind turbines makes the view exquisite.

Just follow this link to see and comment on this video:

Flickr Astronomy: Sunspots


Flickr photo

The magnetic Sun. Sunspots show just how turbulent the plasma of the Sun is.

Flickr Astronomy: Yerkes observatory


Flickr photo

Star trail photography is a little tricky but gosh you do get a glorious image. Here the pole is lovely frammed by two domes.

Python: Julian date

An example of a nice mathematical use of functions in python.