Martz-Kohl Observatory: Going to the Moon? Sailing to Mars? Space Weather Matters!

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James Spann, PhD, NASA scientist
James Spann, PhD, NASA scientist

First Virtual Event via Zoom

Zoom to the Martz-Kohl Observatory on Wednesday evening, July 15, and hear Dr. Jim Spann, Space Weather Lead for the Heleophysics Division at NASA. The Sun makes the weather in space and astronauts need to know when the storms are coming. That’s Dr. Spann’s job.

This first Zoom presentation in the Martz-Kohl Special Guest Series for 2020 is our answer to the Covid lockdown. Join the audience from home at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 15. Simply go to www.martzobservatory.org on your computer or smartphone, click on “our upcoming presentations page,” and sign in. The online “virtual doors” will open for sign-in at 7:15. After Dr. Spann’s talk, we invite everyone to stay and join a lively and interesting Q&A chat.

Dr. Spann will present an overview of the NASA Heliophysics space missions, at least 24 separate missions, that are already studying the sun. Those missions will serve, among their many other duties, as weather stations for the NASA Artemis program that will soon return to the moon and eventually far beyond that as a stepping stone to Mars.

Space weather can not only affect astronauts on deep space missions, but also astronauts on the International Space Station, communication systems on Earth, satellites of all kinds, and the world’s power grids. Sunshine is good, but Sun Storms can be dangerous and devastating.

Dr. James Spann has worked since March of 2019 at The Science Mission Directorate of NASA. Prior to that, Dr. Spann worked as Chief Scientist, Science and Technology Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. He has worked for NASA since 1986 on many of the nation’s most advanced space expeditions.

Keep Looking Up:
Summer Showers

On the nights of July 28 and 29, the Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower will produce up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. Sky-watchers will be seeing the burning rubble and debris as “shooting stars” left behind by sun-grazing comets Marsden and Kracht being torn apart as they orbit fatally close to the sun, ultimately to vaporize and disintegrate completely.

This year’s Perseid meteor shower will put on a great show—the greatest number of meteors—on the late nights/early mornings of August 11, 12 and 13. The Perseids tend to be bright and fast, probably producing up to 40 to 50 meteors per hour at the peak. Find a dark spot away from the city lights and bring a camera.

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.