Did you feel tremors during yesterday’s East Coast earthquake? Did you think “Earthquake!” or “Hmmm, maybe a construction crew is working nearby” or even “Are we under attack?”

USGS "Shakemap"

The US Geological Society uses data to develop "Shakemaps" like this one.

Here at Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, we thought, “The education team must be working on the Science LIVE! Earthquakes presentation again.”

Morehead offers several different versions of Science LIVE!, its interactive science demonstration show. In the Earthquakes version, the Science LIVE! presenter shows the audience how a seismograph works — and since Science LIVE! is an interactive presentation, that means the Science LIVE! presenter asks the audience to jump up and down, creating vibrations. Those vibrations can be measured by a simple accelerometer as the Science Stage auditorium shakes from the impact of dozens of people jumping up and down.

Science LIVE! is presented in our Science Stage auditorium, and Morehead staff member Jeff Hill has an office directly under the Science Stage. This summer, Jeff became accustomed to his office shaking every day around 2:45 p.m., as another audience participated in Science LIVE! Earthquakes. Visitors to Jeff’s office looked alarmed as the office began shaking, but Jeff explained calmly, “They’re just making an earthquake upstairs.”

So you can understand why Morehead staff thought “Science LIVE!” instead of “Earthquake!” yesterday. But that tremor wasn’t caused by a Science LIVE! audience. We’re actually closed for maintenance right now, which gives us a chance to update and fine-tune our programs.

That’s important, because scientific knowledge changes every single day. Right now, researchers are studying data from yesterday’s earthquake. We’re following their research (and research in other science disciplines, too) so we can bring you the most up-to-date scientific content in Science LIVE! and other educational programs at Morehead.

When we reopen on Sept. 17, come experience a Science LIVE! presentation. You may find yourself making an explosion, making snow or, yes, making an earthquake. And we’ll make it fun!

Friends in California are saying, "Earthquake? What earthquake?"

This is the bad news. (Image credit: Luc Viatour)

Many people’s favorite annual meteor shower, the Perseids, will peak the night of August 12/13, 2011.

The good news: That’s a Friday night/Saturday morning. For many people, this is a convenient time of the week to be outside looking for meteors—those streaks of light (also known as “shooting stars”) created when cosmic debris interacts with the Earth’s atmosphere.

The bad news: The Moon will not be cooperating this year. On August 13 it’s full, meaning the Moon will be up all night, its bright light hiding the dimmer meteors from view.

Tips if you decide to view the Perseids this year:

  • To see most meteors, go out during the last dark hour before dawn.
  • Get the Moon out of your field of view, and look toward the northern half of the sky. You’ll want a view unobstructed by trees or buildings.
  • Take a chair to sit in, and look about halfway up the sky.

For more tips, see the American Meteor Society site.

If it’s too cloudy that night or you just don’t want to make the effort, you can still see some meteors (the simulated kind) by coming to Carolina Skies at Morehead this Sunday, August 14, at 3:30 p.m. At your request, the presenter can send a few meteors shooting across the planetarium sky.

Moonlight won't interfere with the peak of the Perseids in 2012.

The production department here at Morehead has been hard at work the last year and a half putting together our newest fulldome show – Solar System Odyssey. The show is meant for audiences 10 and up and will open sometime in the fall.

The story takes place far in the future with an Earth on the verge of environmental collapse. Billionaire Warren Trout thinks he can make a fortune colonizing the rest of the solar system and sends space pilot Jack Larson to find out where. But there’s one thing he didn’t count on – Ashley, Trout’s daughter, has stowed away on board the ship and has her own ideas. You’ll learn about the solar system, moons, space junk and have a fun time while you’re at it.

Check out the teaser trailer:

Jay Heinz is Morehead's Digital Production Manager.

We’re pleased to announce that the August Science Café will focus on the science of running. Join us on Thursday, August 4th, 6 p.m. at the Back Bar in downtown Chapel Hill.

The program is free and open to the public. Free appetizers courtesy of Sigma Xi, our gracious sponsor, will be available starting at 5:45 p.m.

More details:

Barefoot or Traditional? The Runner’s Dilemma

What’s better for you? A traditional running shoe with lots of support and cushioning? Or a more minimalist approach, through either very nonsupportive shoes or barefoot running? As physical therapists and UNC researchers studying different running styles, Don Goss and Dr. Mike Gross and share insights from the scientists’ point of view.

Want to take the scientists’ running style survey? Here’s the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JGQN2F2.

Featuring:

Don Goss, PT, lead investigator, doctoral student in biomechanics

Dr. Michael Gross, PT, FAPTA

Thursday, Aug. 4, 6 p.m.

Back Bar at Top of the Hill

Downtown Chapel Hill

Free Appetizers courtesy of Sigma Xi (while supplies last…)

Thanks! We hope to see you there,

Jonathan

Link to our page: http://moreheadplanetarium.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=page&filename=current_science_forums.html

Jonathan Frederick works with the North Carolina Science Festival and he just bought new running shoes.