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December 2000 TOPS Newsletter

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Mele Kalikimaka TOPS Participants!

Ursid Meteors 2000

P. Jenniskens, Ames Research Center, supplies a prediction of enhanced activity this year of the meteor stream associated with comet 8P/Tuttle. Maximum activity is anticipated around Friday, Dec. 22. The radiant lies close to Kochab, the second brightest star in the constellation of Ursa Minor, or Little Dipper. If you are able to observe this, please send reports about what you see. A really excellent resource on comets and Meteor Showers is Gary Kronk's web page.

Teacher Stipends

The fiscal department is dribbling out checks. Bev mails them as soon as she receives them. Bev will keep checking with fiscal to make sure we get the checks to you as soon as possible.

Follow-Up Activities and Reports

Thanks to all of you who sent materials, portfolios, and reports on your workshop follow-up activities. If you sent paper and happen to have any of your materials or portfolios (lesson plans, etc.) in electronic format, we would appreciate receiving copies. Eventually we will make your work available via the TOPS Web site. Please send your files as attachments to email or on a diskette or zip disk to Bev. If you have questions about how to send your files, please contact Bev.

UH College Credits

To receive course credit you must send your follow-up activity reports to Karen. Karen turned in grades this week, including several incompletes. Incompletes must be made up by February 1, 2001. You can find information about course credit requirements on the TOPS Web site. If you have questions, please contact Mary or Bev.

Activity Highlights

Karen has been very pleased with the quality of your follow-up activities. The student activities have been particularly impressive, as the following summaries show.

Participant Activity
Serena Dameron She made a PowerPoint presentation to her science class, showed students how to apply to TOPS, and is currently serving as secretary of the Sacred Hearts Radio & Astronomy Club.
Tiffany Llenos
Mark Daranciang
Tiffany made presentations to classes and the PTSO. Both participated in the AAVSO fall meeting and is continuing to gather more variable star data.

For a full description of the trip, see Tiffany's website:

Francine Manibusan She is developing a TOPS Web page and helped with an inservice workshop at Education Day on Rota, leading an astrolabe hands-on activity.
Chad Nishizuka He has developed a science fair project on life in extreme environments. He tested the effects of pressure on the growth and expansion of Penicillium notatum.
Cori Okabayashi She is determining what factors affect the visibility of a spectrum seen through water.
Annie Simmerman She has made presentations to her science classes and hosted star parties for 25 people, instructing them in finder charts, using a telescope, constellation hunting, and computer activities.
Stephanie Tsang She has made presentations to her peers and AP classes. She also wrote an article for her 4-H club about TOPS.
David Yoshida He wrote a lab for his chemistry department and a lesson for the Trig class.

TOPS 2001 Applications and Recommendations

Student response has been overwhelming. We would still like to receive more teacher applications. Please encourage teachers to submit applications via the TOPS Web site. We will try to notify all those accepted by January 16.

Computer Tips

Bev wants to add computer usage tips to the newsletter and the TOPS Web site. If you have questions about such things as email, using the Internet, routine maintenance, or weird and unexplainable things that your computer does, please send them to Bev. Please feel free to send "stupid questions." Bev won't use names, and you are undoubtedly not the only one who needs the answer.

This month's tip is about COMPUTER VIRUSES, because several of you have sent viruses attached to your emails. YOU MUST DEAL WITH VIRUSES OR RISK LOSING EVERYTHING ON YOUR COMPUTER.

  • What is a computer virus and how does my computer get one? A virus is an executable program that may do anything from scrambling a single file to wiping our your hard drive. Viruses can get into your computer over any connection to other computers. For example, viruses can arrive while you are connected to the Internet or receiving email. If you use a diskette from another person, the diskette can be infected and transfer the infection to your computer. Once your computer has a virus, your computer can send the virus to other computers. In fact, a popular method is for the virus to open up your address book and automatically send itself to everyone on the list.

  • How do I know if my computer has a virus? If your computer suddenly changes its processing habits (a program worked reliably and now it's doing something different) or crashes frequently, it may already have a virus. Viruses may show effects immediately or at some later date.

  • What should I do? If you are connected to a network (at school, for example), report the problem immediately to the network administrator. All networks should have anti-virus software, but that software may not have been updated recently for new viruses. If your network does not have anti-virus software or you have your own computer, purchase and install anti-virus software immediately. Bev's current favorite is Norton Anti-Virus from Symantec. (For a few more dollars you can get Norton SystemWorks, which includes the anti-virus program.) Another good program is McAfee. The software runs about $35 or $40 and will be one of the best investments you' ve ever made. You can set the Norton program to update itself weekly with new virus definitions (there are thousands of viruses with new ones coming out constantly) and automatically scan everything on your computer, including incoming email attachments.

  • What if I have more questions or problems installing the software? Contact Bev.

Party Time!

February 17 is the date of the next star party at Dillingham Field. We'll start with a potluck and invite HAS members to join us. Watch for further information.

X-Treme Science Exhibit at Bishop Museum

Plan to attend this exciting new exhibit featuring cutting-edge science done here in Hawaii on oceans, volcanoes, and outer space. The exhibit is designed mainly to inspire upper elementary and middle school children, but it contains displays and hands-on activities for pre-schoolers through adults. The exhibit runs from January 27 through May 28 on both floors of the Castle Building. The exhibit also features information about scientists and science careers. Karen is one of the featured scientists, as well as some of the TOPS guest speakers. Teachers, you have additional opportunities related to this exhibit:
  • Teachers who want to contribute lesson plans to a teacher's guide can earn $500 per lesson plan. The deadline for submitting rough drafts is January 15, so contact Kay Fullerton in the Bishop Museum Education Department at 848-4168 immediately if you are interested.

  • Bishop Museum is conducting two workshops about the exhibit. The first is a one-day introductory meeting on February 3 that includes a free breakfast and lunch. Contributors to the teacher's guide will be making presentations. The second is a three-day workshop, March 27-29, that includes field trips. Bishop Museum will provide meals and lodging. Call Kay Fullerton or Laurel Miller at 848-4168 for more information and workshop applications.

  • You can bring your classes for guided tours and special activities. Call the Education Department at 848-4168 to arrange details.

UFO Sited

Kurt Woolslayer sends a good story from Rota. Following is the text of a newspaper article entitled, "Residents claim UFO sighting:" If it was not a plane, then what was it? Many people are talking about the mysterious very bright, round-shaped object which they saw Monday at around 7:30 p.m. Greg Camacho, a radio personality at Power 99 said he saw it while driving down Chinatown. "It was about 250 degrees southwest of Saipan. The bright object stayed there for about 30 minutes and when I turned around, it was gone," he said. It could not be a plane because the object was not moving, Mr. Camacho said. An employee of the Customs Division who was at the Saipan International Airport at that time said he saw a very bright object as he was going out to have dinner. He said he thought that a plane was about to land because the object was in the runway area. What he found weird was that all the lights outside the building including the streetlights went off while there were lights inside the airport building. "It was the only one that was shining brightly at that time while the whole airport area was in complete darkness," he said.

Kurt wrote a letter to the editor explaining that the UFO was Venus. Thanks, Kurt, for clearing up this mystery.

Contact Information

  • For mail to Karen or Bev: Institute for Astronomy, 2680 Woodlawn Drive, Honolulu, HI 96822.
  • For email to Karen: meech@ifa.hawaii.edu. Karen will be conducting research in Chile until December 7, so she may not get to check her mail as often as usual.
  • For email to Mary: m.kadooka@worldnet.att.net.
  • For email to Bev: bevlynn@ifa.hawaii.edu (no attachments) or bevlynn@worldnet.att.net (multiple attachments on one email). Bev will be on vacation November 19-29.
  • For phoning Bev: (808) 487-0635 (office), (808) 486-1599 (fax), (808) 226-8703 (cell).


Last Updated on February 11, 2001

This page has been visited times since October 1999.
Karen Meech, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii
meech@ifa.hawaii.edu