January // A New Frontier

January is the beginning, right? Technically, it's the beginning of our calender year, which means people think of it as a good time for beginning new things. Well, I never stick to an resolutions or goals I make for New Year's, but there are a few things I know I can stick with; like watching a good TV show, reading a good book, and always wanting to learn, learn, learn. Why stay the same, when you can change? Why stick with what you know, when you can learn more? One of my favorite topics to learn about is space. And that's a pretty wide topic. I mean, we're talking about the whole universe, here. From the tiniest proton, to a galaxy billions of light years away, there's always something new to discover. As fun as science fiction can be, I've always found science fact much more interesting. This is the month to have fun learning about astronomy, physics, space, technology, the universe, and discovering new territory.

Watch: Defying Gravity
When this show premiered in 2009, it was described as "Grey's Anatomy in space". If you want a good mix of an ensemble cast drama mixed with science fiction, this is for you. Forty years in the future, eight astronauts are embarking on a six-year mission to visit 5 planets around the solar system. The show goes back and forth between current time and 5 years ago, as the candidates were training to be chosen for the mission. Aside from the usual people-living-in-close-quarters-in-space issues, there is a big mystery behind the mission which will keep you hypothesizing and begging for the next episode. The tragic part is- there's only 13 episodes. Like so many good shows, it was cancelled too soon. There are still so many questions unanswered, so much I was looking forward to seeing on the show. If only television shows could be judged on something other than ratings...

Watch: Stargazing Live
This month with be the third year of this three-night, live-broadcast BBC show hosted by everyone's favorite physicist, Brian Cox, and everyone's favorite Irish comedian/TV presenter, Dara O'Briain. I've learned so much from this show the past two years. Even though I can't actually watch it live, it's still just as exciting. Last year they focused on our Sun as the main topic. They had a corespondent live from an observatory in Hawaii with amateur astronomers taking photos of the sun. They also showed footage of Professor Cox in India during a solar eclipse. They cover everything from the "big" questions, discoveries, & science to the fun stuff that you can do at home with your telescope and camera. I can't wait to see what topic they focus on this year and what interesting stuff I'll learn about our solar system, galaxy, and universe.

Watch: Neil deGrasse Tyson
Even if you're not much of a space geek, you may have heard of a little thing called the Hayden Planetarium. It's kind of a big deal. So, who better to learn about space, the universe, and astronomy, than the Director of it? If you've been drawn into all this space stuff by the pretty pictures and fun facts, and you're ready to learn more, then do a YouTube search for Neil deGrasse Tyson, get comfy, and get ready to learn. Specifically, there are some great videos on the Big Think channel, from other great minds as well, talking about the big stuff in a way we common folk can understand. Don't forget to check out some other astro-hotties like Brian Cox, and Carl Sagan in your YouTubing, for even more astro-fun.

Do: Some stargazing, telescoping, & astrophotography
Depending where you live, January may not be the best month to be spending your nights outdoors with a telescope. I know I won't be. So, even if you can't get out there this month, start doing some research, learning techniques and tips for the Summer, when you'll get out there. Watching Stargazing Live will definitely give you some tips for home astronomy and astrophotography, and give you a lot of inspiration and motivation to want to get out there and try! Even without any equipment, you can still have fun just stargazing, learning the constellations (there's an app for that!), you can even try your hand at some photography without a telescope. Maybe just get inspired and next time you're outside at night and the sky is clear, you'll remember to look up and just enjoy the view for a few minutes. Even in the cold.

Read: Deception Point by Dan Brown
Yes, finally, I am recommending a book that cannot be found in the Young Adult section of the book store. And, yes, this is the same Dan Brown that wrote The DaVinci Code. Yes, he wrote some less controversial books. And, yes, they are most definitely good reads. Like his most famous novel, this, too, is an unraveling mystery of a story. It's not exactly science fiction. It does not take place in space and there aren't any aliens- well, maybe. It's a story of finding evidence of life on other planets and the story of trying to prove or disprove it. I can't give it away, it's a mystery! Just get into it and you won't want to get out because there's a twist at every step. 

Check out: NASA Hubble Space Telescope Photos
Alright, now, this is what it's all about. You want to explore space? Well, short of becoming an astronaut (I think it's a little late for me), you can journey through space via images, thanks to NASA and Hubble. My favorites are the nebulae, but you may be captured by the galaxies, stars, black holes, or even our own solar system. Take some time to look through the photos and just enjoy the beauty of the universe.