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Female Frontiers QuestChat Archive

Date: January 12, 1999

Featuring: Nancy Roman
Astronomer
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD


[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 2 - 10:28:43 ]
Hello to our early arriving chat participants! Today's chat with Nancy Roman from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center will begin at 11:00 a.m., Pacific Standard Time. Be sure you have read Nancy's profile at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/space/frontiers/roman.html before joining this chat.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 3 - 10:29:12 ]
Once the chat begins, Nancy will attempt to answer as many of your questions as she can, but please be patient. We may use "moderation" during the chat if Nancy falls behind with our questions. This means that only a few questions will be posted to the chat room at a time. Don't worry if your questions do not appear on your screen immediately during moderation. They will be held in our chat queue and posted as Nancy answers those ahead of you.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 4 - 10:30:12 ]
As a reminder, remember to enter "Your Handle" in the box provided, before posting questions to the chat room. At the conclusion of today's chat, we ask that you take a few minutes to let us know what you thought about it. For your convenience, you may use our online feedback forms at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys. We look forward to hearing from you!

[ Lowell-Mr.Ziegler/WestLakeYearRoundMiddle - 12 - 11:34:23 ]
I am very interested in what you do. I love astronomy and teach a course called Space Adventures.

[ NancyRoman/GSFC - 16 - 11:35:52 ]
Do you have a specific question? Obviously, I also love astronomy. In addition to the activities in my biography, this year I taught short courses in astronomy for high school boys (advanced) and for science teachers.

[ Lowell-Mr.Ziegler/WestLakeYearRoundMiddle - 17 - 11:37:46 ]
I am having students track constellations right now. Parents are questioning the validity of thie assignment.

[ Lowell-Mr.Ziegler/WestLakeYearRoundMiddle - 18 - 11:40:38 ]
We use the FAST program out of the University of Hawaii and look at how we have changed our viewpoints of our surroundings.

[ NancyRoman/GSFC - 19 - 11:42:03 ]
I think that it is good for students to know the constellations. You can use their recognition of these to have them realize that the move during the night and from night to night at the same time. Eventually, they will know what to look for at various times of the year. Also, looking for the constellations is a good way to get used to looking at the sky. I think this is important. Not only are there such things as halos around the moon and shooting stars but in a dark sky, they can see a couple of stars that vary in light (Mira and delta Cephei). You might have them look for these and chart their brightness. For further informtion about variable, go to the Web pages of the AAVSO. (I think that it is http://www.aavso.org, but I am not sure.)

[ NancyRoman/GSFC - 22 - 11:44:12 ]
Of course, they should also become familiar with the planets, particularly now when Jupiter and Saturn are in the evening sky. Also, they should look at other times for rainbows, solar halos (yes, they do occur) and sun dogs. If they have a dark sky, the Zodiacal light can be impressive.

[ Lowell-Mr.Ziegler/WestLakeYearRoundMiddle - 20 - 11:42:42 ]
In your position, do you have any say over the types of things that the Hubble looks for?

[ NancyRoman/GSFC - 23 - 11:47:30 ]
No. I no longer have any role in the Hubble Space Telescope. I am happy with the many results coming out, however. It makes me feel that my nmany years of work was worth while. To get started in astronomy, I suggest that you subscribe to an astronomical magazine. I suggest Astronomy or Sky and Telescope. Also, inquire whether there is an amateur group near you. If so they will have meetings and, probably, also chances to look through telescopes and possibly special activities for juniors.

[ Yaitza-Yaitza - 21 - 11:43:16 ]
Hi, I am new to astronomy though I've always been interested in space. How does a beginner get started?

[ NancyRoman/GSFC - 24 - 11:51:31 ]
aThe Astronomical Society of the Pacific puts out a book called The Universe at Your Fingertips that contains lots of activities to introduce you to astronomy.

[ Lowell-Mr.Ziegler/WestLakeYearRoundMiddle - 26 - 11:56:07 ]
I like what the Astronomy Society of the Pacific puts out.

[ Lowell-Mr.Ziegler/WestLakeYearRoundMiddle - 27 - 11:56:47 ]
They have good charts and tables to use.

[ Lowell-Mr.Ziegler/WestLakeYearRoundMiddle - 25 - 11:54:22 ]
I have recently started to use Starry Night desktop planetarium (for Macs). I like it, but miss some of the features I use to have with Voyager (from Carina software). Do you know of good software for the Macintosh?

[ NancyRoman/GSFC - 28 - 11:57:46 ]
No. I am not familiar with Macs. However, the magazine, Sky and Telescope that I mentioned has a column on softward. If you library has it, I suggest that you look through a number of issues for leads about what you want. However, I think that computer programs may be a useful crutch but the real way to learn the sky is to look at it!

[ Lowell-Mr.Ziegler/WestLakeYearRoundMiddle - 30 - 12:00:21 ]
I use the software as a "pre-learning" tool before going outside to look at the real thing. It helps students get an idea of where to look for stars, galaxies, nebulas & such.

[ Lowell-Mr.Ziegler/WestLakeYearRoundMiddle - 29 - 11:58:34 ]
Nancy, do you feel that a woman might be included if we send astronauts back to the moon?

[ NancyRoman/GSFC - 31 - 12:01:23 ]
I see no reason why a woman should not go to the moon, or even Mars. Women are now an important part of the astronaut core. While they still are out-numbered by men, they will have filled every role by this spring.

[ Lowell-Mr.Ziegler/WestLakeYearRoundMiddle - 32 - 12:04:24 ]
I have some female students that are very interseted in astronomy and the Space Program, but do not feel that they stand a chance. Is there alot of competition between women getting into programs?

[ NancyRoman/GSFC - 39 - 12:09:08 ]
I am not familiar with the people interactions in the astronaut core. However, in general, NASA has been good for women. In astronomy in general, they is a great deal of competition for jobs but I do not notice that women are having any more difficulty than men. Also, conditions change. When I received my Ph.D. jobs were very scarce but after Sputnik, 8 years later, people could not find enough astronomers to fill the jobs. My advice is to aim for the career you want but make your education broad enough that you can be flexible. I never expected to go into administration but I have never been sorry. My time with NASA Headquarters provided a great experience.

[ Lowell-Mr.Ziegler/WestLakeYearRoundMiddle - 36 - 12:07:14 ]
Bye!

[ Yaitza-Yaitza - 41 - 12:11:10 ]
what kind of educated is needed to be an astronomer and design/program sattelites?

[ NancyRoman/GSFC - 43 - 12:14:56 ]
To be an astronomer, you need a good background in physics and some math. To design satellites, you would normally be an engineer although a good physicist with a good understanding of instrumentation often provides his or her own experiments. The major components of the satellite are designed by engineers. To program satellites, you need a good background in computers. You should also know celestial mechanics if you are going to control the orbits and/or pointing. For instrument control, you must understand how the instruments work.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 44 - 12:15:03 ]
At the conclusion of the chat, please be sure to share your thoughts with us at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys.

[ Lowell-Mr.Ziegler/WestLakeYearRoundMiddle - 34 - 12:06:00 ]
Thank you for the chat.

[ Lowell-Mr.Ziegler/WestLakeYearRoundMiddle - 35 - 12:06:55 ]
Good luck in your role at NASA.

[ NancyRoman/GSFC - 49 - 12:22:04 ]
Bye! NGR

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 48 - 12:21:46 ]
This concludes today's chat with Nancy Roman from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. We would like to offer our sincerest thanks to Nancy for joining us online today, and appreciate her support and participation in our online projects.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 50 - 12:24:12 ]
To learn more about our upcoming chats for the Female Frontiers project, visit the Female Frontiers schedule of events page, at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/space/frontiers/schedule.html.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 51 - 12:24:31 ]
Thank you to everyone for joining us today!


 
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