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I ran onto the bus just as the driver was about to shut the doors. I reached into my jacket pocket and pull out my Metro Card, only to find out there was not enough money on it to pay my fare.  Sigh.

I looked at the driver, and gave him the please don’t embarrass me and kick me off the bus for not having any money look.  He shot me back a dirty look and gestured for me to go on ahead without paying.

“Thank you” I whispered.

As I made my way through the cluster of people who insisted on standing at the front of the bus, I saw an old friend I hadn’t seen since high school; Roberta Smallwood.

Roberta was very troubled back then, she was in and out of jail for robbery and she used to smoke crack. But from what I saw,  Roberta had cleaned up nicely.

The seat next to Roberta was free so I decided to sit on the tattered blue upholstery that clearly had a set-in stain. After awhile, as a New Yorker, you become a master at differentiating a set-in stain that will have no affect on your clothing from a stain that’s fresh.

Roberta immediately recognized me and we laughed and reminisced about our high school years. She opened up about her prison days and rehab. She had been clean for five years and worked as an administrative assistant for the MTA. Every now and then her eyes would wander off out the window when she spoke of her past. I guess some memories were still very fresh for her and she was still healing.  I was happy to see that she is doing so well.

The bus finally reached my destination, the subway.  Roberta and I exchanged phone numbers and emails, vowing to stay in touch, but would we really?  People often run into old friends and have every intention of staying in contact with each other, but life’s routines always seem to get in the way.

As I hopped off the bus, I was painfully reminded of the annoying blister I had on my pinky toe that would hurt every time my sandal strap would rub it.  As I thought about Roberta on the train ride into NYC, I realized that everyone has a story; there is something that happens in everyone’s life that makes them who they are.  What is mine?

Martine Chevry received her B.A. in Communications and Culture from the CUNY School of Professional Studies in June 2011.  She currently works as an Editorial Assistant and lives in Queens, New York. Martine is currently planning on self publishing her first novel in Spring 2012. She enjoys writing, working out, shopping, reading and reality television.

I recently attended an SPS Career Services workshop and networking seminar lead by career expert Arlene Newman. Newman is the President of Career Bound Success and has an extensive background in Human Resources across multiple industries. Newman emphasized the importance of networking in career endeavors and divulged techniques that are useful for successful networking. I will highlight the key points of the seminar and share with you some of the points I think are effective.

Before embarking on your networking journey, it is necessary to devise a clear plan by outlining your objectives, profiling your unique personality, and highlighting your strengths. It is fundamental to ask yourself these questions so you can offer a thorough presentation and give others a clear vision of who you are and what you have to offer. This is also known as an “elevator pitch”– a 30 second to 2 minute clear, concise and carefully planned description that summarizes your personal brand.

From here on, your focus should be on building rapport through the following networks:
• Friends & Family
• Work and Professional Organizations
• Classmates, Alumni Groups and Professors
• Community, Political and Religious Organizations

It is very important to have a positive and enthusiastic attitude in your communication with others. No matter what mood you are in or if you left your last job on a negative circumstance, ensure that your comments are positive. You also must be prepared–this means having a business card ready for all networking events. Your card can display “student” and your major, and if possible, list skills on the back of the card, or even an inspirational quote that is a reflection of your principles. Follow up with every individual through e-mail or a phone call. If there is no answer, always leave a voicemail.

Keep in mind that technology is not 100% reliable, so if you do not get a response the first time, it is okay to send a second e-mail.

Research your field, as well as individuals and organizations pertaining to it. This will prepare you to participate in conversations and become aware of trends and events.

Networking has become an extremely broad concept through our technological evolution, as we now have the tools to increase our networking capabilities. Companies, graduate schools and organizations, are fully aware of this and using online search tools to investigate candidates. Newman stressed the importance of maintaining a professional online presence. To prevent the possibility of a negative image, Google yourself regularly and interact in social networks with your professional image in mind.

Key words for networking:
Authenticity
- Be proud of who you are, your background, your skills and your traits. Use this to your advantage- it makes you unique!
Consistency
- Your ideologies should remain the same anywhere you are visible
Credibility-
Build trust by being honest and upholding integrity with each person that you meet.
Unique
– In a competitive job market, it is vital to display what makes you different, in order to distinguish yourself from the rest.
Visibility
– In order to network, you must be noticeable to the world – achieved through attending events and sustaining a public online presence.

Following these networking guidelines are a start to building long lasting relationships with individuals that can assist you in building your education and career. With every person you meet, you should treat the interaction as a potential opportunity. You should also incorporate philanthropy in networking by approaching it as a two way street- expect to receive as much as you give out.

Don’t worry if you missed this workshop, you have an opportunity to attend Ask The Expert this Wednesday 11/9 at 6pm.  This SPS Career Services program and networking event features a panel of Human Resources professionals answering all your questions about job search and careers.  There’s still time to sign up!

Nivia Martinez is a senior undergraduate student at the CUNY School of Professional Studies, majoring in Communications and Culture.  Upon graduating, she plans to continue her education by pursuing her Masters in international studies and sociocultural anthropology.  In her spare time she enjoys attending cultural events and attending sport events with her 11 year old son, Esteban. 

With all the mayhem that’s been going on in Washington, D.C. and across the United States, you’d think politicos would use some measure of wisdom.  I’ve been reading articles, watching news reports and tweeting stories, which I feel has some semblance, contrary to all the madness.

Yesterday was Halloween and I read an article on the New York Daily News’ website, which said a “Virginia county GOP sent out a mass email depicting an ugly and disturbing image of our president of the United States.”

A 2006, copyrighted AP image of Obama was created by Virginia GOP committee, which showed him as a skeletal, one-eyed man with a bullet piercing his head.

Now, I’m all for free speech in this country and abroad, but I do believe there are certain actions, which cannot be tolerated nor endorsed.  Any image portraying a sitting president of the United States in a derogatory manner, whether one agrees or not with their policies, is just unacceptable.  No one will ever totally agree with every policy a president or political figure believes in.  But the blatant disrespect of the highest office on earth is unfathomable.

There were policies that our 43rd president didn’t seem to have much wisdom in, but I certainly wouldn’t revert to name calling of any sort for his lack thereof.

Democracy is one of our country’s crown jewels, but relegating to such childish antics only chip away at the very fabric most Americans hold dear to.  Our right to free speech should never be used as a buffeting force as a means to dishonor any citizen – especially our President of the United States of America.

Poking fun at or using convoluted imagery to assault the commander-in-chief’s character only reveals how un-American one can be.

Here’s what I mean.

As a class assignment in my Digital Information in the Contemporary World, we were asked to address images and visual literacy.  One aspect of the assignment challenged us to “briefly check out one of five (assigned) sites listed, all of which use (and/or talk about) images and visualizations in different ways.  My group was given the charge of observing and critiquing the Smithsonian’s Ocean Portal.  I’ll submit two questions my professor posed to the class as a whole.

What is the source of the image or visualization? What do you know about how it was created and why? (Do you know enough?)

The sources of the images are from various photographers.  Ocean Portal either has the rights to use these images with permission from the owners or they’re the sole owners of these images.  I would gather these images were created to support the writer’s view on coral reefs and how they thrive in the ocean or not.

Question two: Have the images been manipulated or modified in any way? (Can you tell?) Does the modification, if any, enhance or distort? (Can you tell?

Yes, the images were manipulated to a degree to show the negative impact coral reefs can experience. For instance, the images show coral reefs in their highlight of vibrancy and full of color thriving in an ocean untouched by humans.  But in another screen shot,  high temperatures cause corals to lose the microscopic algae need to produce food, which feed other animals.  The high temperatures experienced in our oceans were due to global warming which shows our carbon footprint.

I also pointed out that, “the images were “distorted” to a degree with the magnification and added colors, used by the popular program photo shop.  This is the exact method that was used to distort the AP photo of our 44th President, Barack Obama.

How does my assignment have any connection to this article?

Well, as I stated earlier, visualization is one form of communication, which allows the artist, author, or blogger to get their point across.  In a book my classmate Fayola C. mentioned in her analysis of, Readings in Information Visualization: Using vision to think  she added “people think in images as much as they do in words.”

I’d have to whole-heartedly agree to that!

The derogatory image was immediately condemned by Virginia’s Governor Bob McDonnell and the Democratic Party of Virgina Spokesman, Brian Coy after which, the committee issued a public apology.

“The controversial image was first reported on the northern Virginia blog, Too Conservative.”

Even though the apology was issued, this group of free speech citizens wanted to justify their acts by declaring this in their statement, “[t]he Loudoun County Republican Committee yesterday sent an email to its members that represented a light-hearted attempt to inject satire into the Halloween holiday.”

I hardly call that humor.

Miranda A. Walker is currently in her freshman year in the B.A. in Communication & Culture program at CUNY School of Professional Studies.  She works in the multi-media industry as an Executive Assistant at the New York Daily News.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her children and reading immensely.  Her dream is to one day run her own company.

Whenever I’m in Chelsea, I feel compelled to casually walk by the Alexander McQueen store and glance in the window. There’s always something in the window that catches my eye. It’s usually a fantastic design, bold colors, and unusual silhouette, or an extreme use of ruffles, rosettes or ruching.

And I’ve gotta have it. Just gotta have it.

Something about the designer’s work attracts me. It draws me to it, and every time I walk by that store, I feel drawn inside. My wallet however, usually drags me back out as quickly.

I know why I’m drawn towards this designer. But for a lot of other things that attract my attention, I usually don’t know why. Sometimes it’s the colors, sometimes it’s the display. Sometimes it’s the product itself. It’s the branding that attracted me like a lonely moth towards a street lamp.

I just gotta have it.

Not too long ago, I woke up with a crazy thought that just popped into my head. I finally figured out the best asset I had to work with. It was staring right back at me from the mirror. Myself.

I don’t know why I’ve never thought about it before. I know myself inside and out. I know my strengths and my weaknesses. It’s other people that don’t. If I am my best asset, why don’t I brand myself that way?

I am a brand.

Whoa.

I am a brand.

With unemployment at uncomfortable levels, people occupying Wall Street, Oakland, San Francisco and everywhere else, people are unfortunately all starting to look the same. People are starting to blend together like running ink from a wet newspaper. We’re all old news, fading away and moving quickly towards the drain.

There is nothing to attract employers to you, unless you do it yourself. You have to make yourself a brand that the company just has to have. What sets you apart from your peers? Your competitors? What makes you an individual? What makes you the brand that you are? Why do they need you rather than someone else? No one else can build that value of yourself or that sense of urgency that you are a once in a lifetime opportunity. You don’t want to miss out on this exclusive limited time offer that is ME!

As I pondered this thought, I tried to think of a way to describe myself. What would make me seem different?

I started with: “They are standard, and I am deluxe.” Yeah, like that would work. I’d come with pickles and onions with a side of fries.

“They are vanilla, but I am rocky road.” I’ve never even had rocky road, so I’m not sure where that one came from.

I finally hit on it.

“These people are one dimensional, while I am prismatic.”

I am colorful, unusual, sparkly, and multi-faceted. Why didn’t I think of this before?

I am prismatic.

How will you brand yourself? What word or phrase best describes you?
Ebonye Gussine is a recent graduate in the Master of Science in Business Management & Leadership Program at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.  She loves writing, reading, and is an avid fan of John Steinbeck’s works. In her spare time she sings off-key and travels to new places.

Christy attended a small liberal arts college in Virginia.  After graduating with a degree in multidisciplinary studies, and studying arts management and dance, she worked at a local cultural arts center as a receptionist and administrative assistant doing marketing and guest relations.  But her heart called her to New York City to pursue a career in arguably the arts center of the world.  She was both excited and nervous to make the move but knew that with hard work and bright ideas she could be successful!

She was luckily able to stay with her sister who lived in Manhattan while getting settled and embarking on the job search.  One of the first things she did was call and email people with whom she had interacted while in school.  She had worked in the school’s performing arts venue and had a few friends from there that had since relocated to NYC.  Christy’s former manager at the theatre had also offered to refer her to some of her colleagues in the industry so she pursued those connections too.   She also began researching job opportunities online, familiarizing herself with industry trends, and learning about how she might best fit into an organization.  Her networking consisted not of asking for “jobs” but of asking for “advice.”  She knew that it made sense to approach it that way instead of being too bold and expecting too much from people she barely knew.  Soon after meeting and conducting informational interviews with different professionals from multiple facets of the industry, she started to pursue actual job openings.  These conversations she had with people who understood her interests and perspective, also helped her narrow her focus to working in a corporate/for-profit environment vs. in-house/non-profit settings and which types of jobs for which she would most likely fit.  Before too long, those relationships she formed started to turn into trusted confidantes, and these people started to reach out to her when they learned of openings and she landed some interviews.  She didn’t turn down any leads that were remotely related to the field as she knew each person she met was a new connection and that would only help her career.

Finally after just a few short months, Christy got a call about an opening that turned out to be the perfect match for her skills, education, and preferences and accepted the position.  It was a Marketing Assistant at a university’s performing arts center in NYC, and her direct supervisor was someone she knew from the similar position she had held in college.  This job turned into a successful 5-year tenure marked by multiple promotions and new friends.

It really is true that networking works.  Just ask Christy!  She gave a lot of effort to her job search and focused on building rapport to create lasting connections that came through for her in a big way.  You can make networking work for you too – you just have to commit to it and approach it as a 2-way street.  Join SPS Career Services as we welcome a guest presenter, career expert Arlene Newman, at next Wednesday’s “Networking Like a Pro” workshop and get started!

Shannon Gallo is the Manager of Career Services at the CUNY School of Professional Studies. When she’s not helping others achieve their career dreams, she’s cheering on the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Although we are at the end of October, it is still National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and you have a few more days to become or stay aware. I would like to celebrate the survivors, pay tribute to those who have lost their struggle, and remind everyone to know the warning signs, get screened and stay in charge of your health. Although it is very rare, men can get breast cancer too. Everyone needs to be aware, both for themselves and for their loved ones.

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month has a great website full of important information and links – http://www.nbcam.org. This is an excellent place to begin awareness. Many people do not like to think about illness or death, but pretending that nothing bad is going to happen or ignoring warning signs or the “feeling that something is wrong” will hurt you. Even if you feel fine and have no warning signs, make sure you do self exams, have regular breast exams performed by a health professional and get diagnostic tests such as a mammogram and MRI. The website provides links to free or low-cost mammograms if you do not have health insurance or are not covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

Become informed and remember that you are your best advocate! Do not be afraid to speak to your doctor, ask questions, ask more questions and push for as much information as possible. Yes, you need to rely on the health professionals, but you are a vital member of the team.

As discussed on nbcam.org, many women have risk factors that are associated with a greater chance to develop breast cancer. If you fall into this category, New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center offers programs, screenings, early interventions, support and other resources. This is a link to the Women at Risk website. It is conducting a symposium entitled, “Empower Yourself: Lifestyle and Wellness Choices of Women at High Risk for or with Breast Cancer” on Monday, 11/14/11 from 5:30 to 8 in midtown. Please call 212-305-5917 or email info@womenatrisknyc.org for more information.

If you are a breast cancer patient, keep on taking care of and empowering yourself. Learn as much as you can about your illness and take advantage of all the support groups out there. If you are a survivor, congratulations and please share your experiences and knowledge. We all have to take care of each other. Whether you are a patient or a survivor, I hope you have many years of health and happiness.

A very dear friend was buried last week. She learned she had inflammatory breast cancer almost 10 years ago. Inflammatory breast cancer is rare and unlike traditional breast cancers. There is no lump. Her breast was red and inflamed and she thought she had an infection. Her regular doctor put her on antibiotics. She finally went to a specialist who sent her for tests and to see more specialists, and she was diagnosed a few months later with inflammatory breast cancer. By the time the cancer appears as a red inflamed breast, it is already advanced. An oncologist at a famous Eastside cancer center coldly gave her three months, but she refused to accept it. She was fortunate to find a not so famous oncologist in Orange County with a wonderful staff whose care, combined with her determination, gave her almost 10 years.

Rest in peace Dawn, and all other strong and brave women who lost their battles. We will keep fighting in your memory.

Mary Casey is a student in the MS in Business Leadership and Management program at CUNY School of Professional Studies and is an alumna of Lehman College. She is an administrator for a university in NYC. She loves to travel and wants to see as much of the world as possible. Mary almost has more comments on the SPS blog than she received on the community/political blog that she created and maintained from 2002 to 2004.

A major interruption with communication has caused Black Berry RIM users to scramble.  Why do we rely on technology so much?  Because technology has proven to be a useful, efficient and inexpensive tool that allows intra-company communication and communication with outside clients.  The majority of U.S. companies offer blackberry devices to its employees as a means to stay in contact at all times.

But when technology doesn’t measure up, it can be detrimental and even costly.  According to the The Roland Martin Report “Mike Lazaridis, founder of BlackBerry’s Canadian parent company, Research In Motion, appeared this morning in a YouTube video to say, “Since launching BlackBerry in 1999, it’s been my goal to provide reliable, real-time communications around the world. We did not deliver on that goal this week. Not even close.”

Now, I  must admit I have relied (and still do) on my device to keep me in touch with work related emails and personal messages alike.   That’s a good thing. Technology has been monumental in many new arenas of our society, but with anything, nothing is absolute.

Our society has evolved dramatically in more ways than not – one being, the ways in which we communicate.  Twenty years ago, TXTNG was unheard of!  There was a time (before my time) when a boy and girl liked each other, they would write love letters back and forth.  That form of communicating as we know it is now outdated.

Businesses that rely on technological devices to increase productivity should use these mishaps as a learning curve to find ways to keep things moving, if this should happen again – hopefully it won’t. Otherwise, we’ll continue to experience these disruptions all over again.

RIM has provided a very useful service to many companies local and international.

I read an article in Thursday’s WSJ, by Will Connors, Ben Drummett and Christopher Lawton which said “hardware failure began in Europe, Mideast and Africa since Monday.  The company was forced to “throttle” data traffic through its world-wide servers in order to deal with the backlog, triggering fresh disruptions in previously unaffected markets, including Japan, Singapore and  – starting early Wednesday morning-North America.”

For many professionals, this is a must have.

“Service disruptions affected a wide array of U.S. federal agencies, including the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury, as well as emergency services.”

During the email chaos yesterday afternoon, my boss hadn’t received one email since ten o’clock that morning.  But he didn’t mind.  Others that were affected, vented their frustrations on Twitter and Facebook instantly.

With dwindling sales of Blackberry devices, this serves as ammunition for customers to move to the iPhone and HTC smartphones.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, pages A1 & A2 (Thursday, October 13th)

Roland S. Martin’s blog:  http://rolandmartinreports.com/blog/2011/10/blackberry-outage-rim-apologizes-says-service-returning/

Miranda A. Walker is currently in her freshman year in the B.A. in Communication & Culture program at CUNY School of Professional Studies.  She works in the multi-media industry as an Executive Assistant at the New York Daily News.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her children and reading immensely.  Her dream is to one day run her own company.

With the somewhat-sudden loss of Steve Jobs, everyone is wondering about the future of Apple. The stagnation of Facebook also has people wondering what Mark Zuckerberg has up his sleeve next. Twitter has taken flight and is continuing to gain speed as it moves towards the horizon. Everyone in Silicon Valley is scrambling to be the next big thing.

Well, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration.

Many people, in the United States and across the world want to have that single great idea that makes them millions. They want to find a niche in the technology world to fill. Once you think the market is saturated with tech companies, innovative ideas and more services you didn’t know you needed, something else comes up. It seems almost inevitable.

It’s one of the great things about innovators like Steve Jobs. They keep on re-inventing and they keep on moving forward.

But this post is not about Steve Jobs.

We are suffering from a lack of clear vision and focus. So many people get start-up money, rent some office space, add “fun extras” and wait for the money to roll in. Google did not gain it’s place in the marketplace by offering gourmet meals to it’s employees and adding treadmill-desks to the offices. They did it by working hard and thinking outside of the box.

I think too many of us fail to do the same. We expect that our great ideas will be enough to carry us through.

What we need are fresh injections of new ideas and new perspectives. I came across a blog entry that made the statement that we need to see more women in tech. I think that’s only a partial answer. I think we need more of everyone in tech. Many people of color and most socio-economic statures never venture into tech. Often it’s the lack of education. But there are many other factors at play. Many people think it’s too hard. Or too boring. Some people just don’t have the financial or emotional support to dedicate the hours needed in order to put good ideas into action.

It’s not to say that the people who make technology now aren’t doing it well or fast enough. But if we have more people with different cultural and educational perspectives, I’m sure that we’d see technology move even faster than ever.

Are you up for the challenge?

Ebonye Gussine is a recent graduate in the Master of Science in Business Management & Leadership Program at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.  She loves writing, reading, and is an avid fan of John Steinbeck’s works. In her spare time she sings off-key and travels to new places.

A friend and I decided to go to the Occupy Wall Street protest the first Sunday in October. We made the plans after the infamous pepper spraying incident but before the 700 arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge. We didn’t know what to expect.

The last time I participated in a group protest was in August 2004 against the RNC Convention in New York. It was a family affair – my then husband and our two eye-rolling kids who were in high school. (The family that protests together . . .) It was a very festive and diverse atmosphere, with babies being pushed in strollers and grandmas being pushed in wheelchairs. Multi-generations of families and people of all races and colors marched together.

As we marched up 7th Avenue, we were penned in by police barricades. It was hot in the sun and no one was allowed to climb under or over the barricades to buy water in any of the stores along the route. Only at certain cross streets were people allowed to enter or leave the procession. There was a major police presence with few incidents during the march. As we passed Madison Square Garden (the site of the convention) and the Fox News studio, we were met counter-protesters and the volume “words were exchanged”, but the police forced the marchers to keep moving. Funny, but the pro-Bush protesters were allowed to stake out their positions and not coerced to move.

Although the march appeared very orderly and it was far-removed from 1968 style demonstrations, it was later revealed that over 1,800 people were arrested that weekend and held in a pen on the West Side nicknamed “Guantanamo on the Hudson”. Although the NYC Police Department lost millions in civil suits overs the arrests, they were not required to release data used in leading up to those arrests. Surveillance and intelligence gathering methods were kept secret “in the interests of national security”. (http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/11/nypd-can-keep-its-secrets-2004-convention-arrests-remain-mysterious/)

Well, the Occupy Wall Street protests sure need some invigorating. It looked more like a tourist attraction last weekend, with out-of-towners gawking at a patchwork of humanity temporarily living in Zuccotti Park. Where are the major media outlets? Where are the thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of actual participants? Where is the outrage? Are we so beaten down and defeated that we have no fight left?

There was certainly no absence of police presence. The number of police vans filled with cops just sitting there, squad cars, unmarked cars (so obvious), uniformed police, inspectors, detectives and undercover officers was astounding to the point of being laughable. Who was protecting the rest of the city? Police barricades were set up everywhere, making walking in the area difficult. No one was allowed to use a bullhorn. Taking pictures made the police very nervous. I overheard a few of them talking among each other (if he takes a picture of me . . .). Terrorism threats and national security are the buzzwords used to keep from upsetting the status quo.

Unions such as the United Federation of Teachers, 32BJ SEIU, 1199 SEIU, Workers United, and Transport Workers Union Local 100 and well known people (Michael Moore, Joseph Stiglitz) and organizations (MoveOn) are joining in support of the protests against the greed and corruption that are causing the collapse of our economy and destruction of the middle class.  This will help to legitimize and publicize the movement. Isn’t it time to speak out?

Mary Casey is a student in the MS in Business Leadership and Management program at CUNY School of Professional Studies and is an alumna of Lehman College. She is an administrator for a university in NYC. She loves to travel and wants to see as much of the world as possible. Mary almost has more comments on the SPS blog than she received on the community/political blog that she created and maintained from 2002 to 2004.

Astronomy as I had known it consisted only of the Sun, Moon and stars.  But after I took the plunge of enrolling in an astronomy course here at SPS, my perception of what I thought I knew had drastically changed for the better.

I tend to be the sort of person that likes to play it safe.  Here’s what I mean:  I try to stick to what I know best so if I fail, it can be on a subject matter that I know vs. something I have no clue about.  That might sound silly but it’s the truth. Ordinarily, I would have preferred to enroll in Biology or Earth Science but since I’m a college student, I felt it better suited me to try something more challenging.  (I forced myself to enroll).

According to Wikipedia, astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects (such as stars, planets, comets, nebulae, star clusters and galaxies) and phenomena that originate outside the Earth’s atmosphere (such as the cosmic background radiation). At least I was partially correct.  Before, I get all technical, the basics of astronomy began with early observations – some of which you might have heard of.  These great explorers are like Galileo who turned the newly invented telescope  with great discoveries, but Newton made tremendous strides in physics, which connects with astronomy.  Or how about Ptolemy, the astronomer, mathematician, and author who wrote an astronomical treatise (is a formal and systematic written discourse on some subject, generally longer and treating it in greater depth than an essay), on the complex subject on the motion of stars and planetary paths.  There was also a man named Copernicus who proposed the heliocentric system and Kepler adopted the detailed laws of planetary motion.  Not only have these men contributed to the history of astronomy, they have allowed us to see and  further discover what is above our Earth’s atmosphere.

Have you ever wondered why we have seasons?

Seasons as we know it, are a direct result of the Earth’s tilt!  You’re probably wondering what that means, right?  Well it means that Summer (from the Latin word “sol” meaning “sun” and stare, “to stand”) is the point on the ecliptic (plane of the earth’s orbit around the sun), where the Sun is at its northern most point above the celestial equator.  It represents the point in Earth’s orbit where our planet’s North Pole points closet to the Sun!  This occurs on or near June 21.

Six months later, the Sun is at its southernmost point or the Winter Solstice (December 21) the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere. These two affect the height of the Sun above the horizon and the length of the day – which combine to account for the seasons we experience.

One of the many stunning images available on the Hubble website.

This is truly fascinating!

Astronomers view any and all activity by high-powered ground telescopes and even the HST (Hubble Space Telescope).  The HST is very unique device since its stationed high above our Earth’s atmosphere.  It has produced thousands upon thousands of crystal clear images that the ground telescopes aren’t able to produce.  Images are passed to another satellite in space and finally beamed to a ground telescope and transferred to a computer at the Goddard Space Center in Maryland.

If you have a chance to log onto Hubble’s official website at: http://hubblesite.org, there are extraordinary images that could possibly bring you to tears.

According to the NY Post, an outdated research satellite will re-enter our atmosphere where it’s expected be destroyed. I can’t but help to have a new-found respect for this science and technology, which is ever-changing before our eyes.

What I’m learning from taking this course is that observations and new challenging can be exciting and even thrilling.  My decision to rise to the challenge is definitely paying off by this  new-found hobby I’ve acquired of becoming an elementary star-gazer.

Sources: Wikipedia.com, Astronomy Today, Volume II, chapter 4 & 5 (Chaisson, McMillian)

Miranda A. Walker is currently in her freshman year in the B.A. in Communication & Culture program at CUNY School of Professional Studies.  She works in the multi-media industry as an Executive Assistant at the New York Daily News.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her children and reading immensely.  Her dream is to one day run her own company.

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