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Beth Johnson
Geek mom. Researching. Sharing.
Geek mom. Researching. Sharing.

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Please help support my work and the work of my colleagues at +SETI Institute. Donate today!
Support SETI Institute's search for life beyond our planet today during #SVGives. First $17k will be matched by our Board of Trustees! Donate now:

The SETI Institute is a nonprofit research organization. Within the Institute, the Carl Sagan Center is the home to over 70 scientists and researchers organized into 6 research divisions:

* Astronomy and Astrophysics
* Exoplanets
* Planetary Exploration
* Climate and Geoscience
* Astrobiology
* SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence)

The SETI Institute scientists work within this cross-disciplinary environment and produce world-class research regularly accepted by top scientific journals.

The majority of the work of the SETI Institute happens in this rich research environment. On any given day, our scientists are diving underneath Antarctic ice, mapping the trajectories of asteroids, exploring Mars analogs here on Earth and the geoscience of the real Mars; discovering new exoplanets in the habitable zones of other solar systems; and listening and looking for signs of technological life elsewhere.

Our quest belongs to the world. In addition to sharing our research results with our peer scientific community, the SETI Institute promotes STEM education with programs aimed at inspiring children, young adults and educators. We also bring the results of our work to millions through deft use of social media, radio broadcasting, and publications and presentations made available online to all who want to be part of our search.

Space exploration is an important gateway for children and adults to want to learn about science. The SETI Institute takes full advantage of the fascinating research conducted by our talented scientists to make discovery of life elsewhere in our universe a common purpose and passion of all mankind.

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During our summer 2013 REU at +SETI Institute , we were all excited when we got to travel to the Allen Telescope Array and actually do some work with the dishes. My friend Rachel took this video of when we got to aim a few. A bunch of us were crowding the windows to watch.

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Earth’s bigger, older cousin! With the help of our Kepler Mission​, we’ve confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the “habitable zone” around a sun-like star. This planet is 60% larger than Earth. The newly discovered Kepler-452b is the smallest planet to date discovered orbiting in the habitable zone -- the area around a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of an orbiting planet -- of a G2-type star, like our sun. The confirmation of Kepler-452b brings the total number of confirmed planets to 1,030.  Learn more: #NASABeyond

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Hangout On-Air - Join SETI Institute scientists Douglas Caldwell, Jeffrey Coughlin and Joseph Twicken for an update on the Kepler team's newest discoveries. Hosted by SETI Institute Senior Astronomer and Director of the Center for SETI Research Seth Shostak.

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Comet PanSTARRS, Moon, and Venus
Image Credit & Copyright: Amit Kamble (Auckland Astronomical Society); Rollover Annotation: Judy Schmidt

It is the object to the left of the big tree that's generating much recent excitement. If you look closely, there you can see Comet PanSTARRS, complete with two tails. During July, this comet has increased markedly in brightness and has just passed its closest approach to Earth. The statuesque tree in the center is a Norfolk Island Pine, and to either side of this tree are New Zealand Pohutukaw trees. Over the trees, far in the distance, are bright Venus and an even brighter crescent Moon. If you look even more closely, you can find Jupiter hidden in the branches of the pine. The featured image was taken a few days ago in Fergusson Park, New Zealand, looking over Tauranga Harbour Inlet. In the coming days and weeks, Comet C/2014 Q1 (PANSTARRS) will slowly move away from the Sun and the Earth, drift deep into southern skies, and fade.

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Colorful Clouds Near Rho Ophiuchi
Image Credit & Copyright: Markus Noller (Deep-Sky-Images)

Why is the sky near Antares and Rho Ophiuchi so colorful? The colors result from a mixture of objects and processes. Fine dust illuminated from the front by starlight produces blue reflection nebulae. Gaseous clouds whose atoms are excited by ultraviolet starlight produce reddish emission nebulae. Backlit dust clouds block starlight and so appear dark. Antares, a red supergiant and one of the brighter stars in the night sky, lights up the yellow-red clouds on the lower center of the featured image. Rho Ophiuchi lies at the center of the blue nebula on the left. The distant globular cluster M4 is visible to the upper right of center. These star clouds are even more colorful than humans can see, emitting light across the electromagnetic spectrum.

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My mentor, Dr. Peter Jenniskens, will be in attendance at this event, discussing the threat of asteroids to Earth. If you're local to the Bay Area, I highly recommend attending!
June 30 - Meet SETI Institute scientists at the Cal Academy on Asteroid Day

In partnership with the B612 Foundation, the Academy will host a special day-long event for families, youth, and adults alike featuring interactive presentations, educational activities, and renowned guests. Catch a presenter-led presentation of Asteroids: Science with an Impact in the Academy’s Hohfeld Hall, view real meteorites from our geology collection, and more.

Event info:

Asteroid Day info:

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Whoa. Good thing that one wasn't headed toward Earth.
On it’s way over the limb, as the Sun rotates, sunspot AR2365 popped a massive coronal mass ejection into space on 18 June 2015. The cloud of charged plasma was not, fortunately, moving along the line between Earth and Sun. 

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Rosetta and Philae talking again today!
Comet lander #Philae has been back in touch with #Rosetta today - the first contact since last Sunday. More details in the blog:
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