The Pleiades Star Cluster

Teaching Astronomy to Children

Within New Zealand, June provides the perfect opportunity for astronomers to get out into the community and spark the astronomy bug in children. Not only are we currently in winter, experiencing sunset really early — 6pm in some parts of the country and earlier in the far south — but it is also the Maori New Year, or Matariki as it is called, a time of the year that is marked by the dawn rising of the Pleiades Cluster.

Every year, I get asked by at least one of the local scout groups to introduce the kids to some of the concepts behind astronomy. This month's show of Conversations in Science was all about some of the tactics that I use to explain eclipses, seasons, and our place in the galaxy.


Teaching Astronomy to Kids
(First aired on KLRNRadio, Monday, June 5, 2017)

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Sometimes, life gets in the way…

I had every intention to post something new this week, but every time I went to sit down to write something, life got in the way. (I've spent the last few days at the hospital while my husband had emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix. Not fun.)

So instead of trying to drive myself insane to come up with the perfect post, I've decided that it's time to send out a few links to my favourite posts from recent times.

Read on, my dear readers. You won't be disappointed.

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Has Political Correctness Gone Too Far?

The idea of political correctness (PC as many have come to abbreviate it) is not anything new. The civil rights movements in the 1960s and 1970s were all about trying to remove the gender and racial bias that is inherent in our society. From these tough times came some positive actions — things that I and my children can benefit from — but with the push for acceptance and tolerance, has today's society taken it too far?

Every time I turn around, the acceptable terminology to describe those around me has changed yet again. I have come to terms with the idea that words do change their meanings with each generation, but must we really confuse multiple generations of people at once, simply because the latest generation thinks we’re being insensitive? It's bad enough that the term "gay" has two different meanings depending on the context (happy or homosexual), but now we have this LBGTQ acronym that we have to use.

Let's ignore the fact that majority of the population will have no clue what LBGTQ stands for. I didn't — not until I actually looked it up while writing this post. (For those of you who don't know, LBGTQ stands for lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgendered and queer — however, the Q can stand for questioning too, depending on who you're talking to.) Instead, let’s just confuse everyone with a random acronym that isn't even nice to say — it doesn't roll off the tongue.

New legislation crops up every day, all designed to help promote equality. Each new law is meant to help bridge the gaps that were identified in the 1960s and 1970s, but extend to all areas where prejudice can occur. These laws are meant to help shatter the glass ceiling that women face in business and industry. They’re meant to remove the barriers for those of different skin colours and religious backgrounds. They’re there to give people the confidence to forge the romantic connections that pull so strongly on their hearts. All of these new laws and policies were meant to protect people's rights to be different, but this push to promote diversity within society has taken an insane turn.

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My baby is 12. Where did the time go?

Exactly 12 years ago today, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Unlike my first child, she was on time. Well, sort-of. My midwife was concerned about the increasing protein counts in my urine, showing signs that my kidneys were shutting down. I was referred to the maternity unit at the hospital. The specialist on call gave me two options: they induce me, so I could give birth that day; or they admit me and we can wait for labour to start on its own.

Umm… Such a silly question to ask a pregnant woman who was so over this thing called pregnancy. Eight hours later, my daughter was born.

My daughter CJ at four months old with her big brother Anthony, who was four at the time. (Sept 2005)

I remember like it was yesterday when my husband brought our son in to see his sister. “She’s tiny, mummy,” he said. “She’s tiny.”

“Yes, Anthony. All babies are tiny.”

Little did we both know that she was also cheeky.

CJ (Christa to those of us in the family) has always been a determined child, never letting anything stand in the way of what she wants. Never mind that she might not actually know what she wants, but that’s beside the point.

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Judy L Mohr

Lost for Words

I have started so many posts for this week and found myself deleting them. For whatever reason, they were incredibly negative. I have so many things floating around in this mind, too many thoughts. It's sometimes really hard to put it all down in words that are actually palatable.

That's right, folks. At the moment, I'm lost for words. 

Instead of trying to drive myself insane to come up with the perfect post, I've decided that it's time to send out a few links to my favourite posts from recent times.

Read on, my dear readers. You won't be disappointed.

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