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Uwingu Mars Mapping Project Announces Grant to AWB

Uwingu 170pxUwingu, a company formed by scientists to raise funds for space exploration and education, has announced a grant to Astronomers Without Borders. The grant was generated by Uwingu's new Mars Mapping Project, an innovative program of public engagement that Uwingu hopes will raise $10 million for space research.

Based on the response to the Mars Mapping Project so far, Uwingu is off to a fast start towards reaching that goal. And Astronomers Without Borders will create programs to help reach more astronomy and space enthusiasts around the world.

Dr. Alan Stern, the CEO of Uwingu, said, "We're very proud to award the first grant from our latest project to Astronomers Without Borders, an international organization dedicated to educating the public about astronomy."

Mike Simmons, President of Astronomers Without Borders, added, "Uwingu's mission of public engagement matches ours, and we encourage our members to participate in this project to publicly fund space exploration and education.”

More announcements will be coming soon from this new and dynamic partnership as Astronomers Without Borders extends its reach to the Red Planet, taking its members along for the ride.

The complete press release is available here (PDF).

AWB Founder to Speak On John Dobson

AWB founder Mike Simmons will join a distinguished panel of speakers in Los Angeles tomorrow (Saturday, March 8) to talk about the legacy of John Dobson, who is best known for the popularization of the Dobsonian telescope for amateur astronomers. Below is the media release with full details.

WHAT: John L. Dobson (September 14, 1915-January 15, 2014) was world-famous forhis passion for sharing the universe, and his novel and accessible designs fortelescopes. In 1967, he founded the San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers, anorganization dedicated to building and bringing telescopes to people whereverthey congregate. Today, the “Dobsonian,” or “Dob,” is familiar to both backyardand commercial telescope builders. It is distinguished by its huge light-gathering ability as well as its low cost and simple, but sturdy, design. 

Griffith Observatory Curator Dr. Laura Danly will host a panel discussion on the life and influence of John Dobson. The presentation will be followed by Q&A from the audience and a chance for people to share their own memories and perspectives on the influence John Dobson had on public astronomy. Appropriately, the session will take place during the Observatory’s Public Star Party for March (2:00 p.m. – 9:45 p.m.) Both activities are free.

WHO: Dr. Laura Danly, moderator
Anthony Cook, Griffith Observatory’s Astronomical Observer
Mike Simmons, Founder and President of Astronomers Without Borders
Katy Haugland, Sidewalk Astronomers and close associate of John Dobson

WHERE: Griffith Observatory, 2800 East Observatory Road, Los Angeles, CA, 90027

WHEN: Saturday, March 8, 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

RSVP: This event is free and open to the public. Seating is first come, first served and parking is limited. The presentation will also be webcast on the Griffith Observatory Channel at

CONTACT: SWPR Group (818) 760-7131
Bonnie Winings [email protected]
Samantha Arevelo [email protected]

Your School Could Win The Chance To Do Asteroid Searches!

Astronomers Without Borders and the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC) are sponsoring a special asteroid search campaign as part of Global Astronomy Month (GAM2014) in April. Fifteen schools from around the world will be selected to participate in this campaign, which takes place from 24 March to 28 April, 2014.

The deadline to apply is March 17, 2014. Read more details on the Global Astronomy Month website!

Private Mars Mission To Carry Map To Surface Of Mars

AWB is pleased to announce that Uwingu, which creates new ways for people to connect to science and astronomy, is bringing its Mars crater initiative to the Red Planet -- literally. Below is the news release with more details.


Uwingu and the pioneering Mars one project ( announce a landmark partnership: All Mars One missions will carry Uwingu's Mars Map to Mars, and will use these feature names as a part of Mars One's mission operations at Mars. Additionally, a portion of Uwingu's revenues generated by Mars feature naming will help fund Mars One missions.

Uwingu launched its Mars Crater Naming Project last week at, giving anyone in the public the opportunity to name any of the approximately 500,000 scientifically identified craters on Mars.

The goal of this project is to create $10M in Uwingu grant funds to space projects like Mars One, to space researchers, and to space educators.

Uwingu founder and CEO Dr. Alan Stern, a planetary scientist nad the former head of NASA's science programs said, "This partnership catapults Uwingu's Mars crater naming database and Mars maps into the forefront of Mars exploration. Every person who names craters on Mars will now know that their crater names are to be used in the exploration and eventual settlement of Mars."

Bas Lansdorp, Mars One Co-Founder and CEO said "Uwingu gives everyone around the world the opportunity to participate in space exploration. The name you choose will go down in history, travelling on board our 2018 mission lander and will be used by our future astronauts. What an amazing opportunity!"

Invest in the future of children's astronomy education in Tanzania!

In collaboration with UNAWE-Tanzania we are now looking for funds to establish a Centre for Science. This project is also a recommended project of the IAU-OAD and has thus been placed on its wish list. In June 2014, individuals will gather in Usa River (near Arusha, Tanzania) to prepare a Space Science model for advancing the development of inquiry based science education in Tanzania based on the current national curriculum.

Find out how to contribute on the Telescopes to Tanzania page.

AWB Comms Manager Plays At Being A "Marstronaut"


Crew 133 members Elizabeth Howell (left) and Pedro Diaz-Rubin at the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah. Credit: Matthieu Komorowski


It's so hard to hammer in the stakes for a radio telescope while wearing a spacesuit. One after another, my crew members pounded metal into frozen ground, joking about how hot it felt with the sun beating down on us. It seemed everything was taking twice as long as it should have, which illustrates how hard a space mission can be.

Crew 133 was not in space, however. We were spending two weeks at the Mars Desert Research Station, a facility run by the Mars Society to simulate exploration on the Red Planet. A large part of our mission focus was astronomy – a natural fit since we were in a desert far from any lights!

We built the aforementioned radio telescope, which will allow crews to watch solar activity and track flares on Jupiter's moon Io. We also observed Jupiter moon transits using a Celestron 14-inch CGE1400 installed in a covered observatory. It was cold observing in the observatory, but at least we were sheltered from the worst of the wind.

We lived all day and night in a 1,200-square-foot Habitat that was heated and even included small bedrooms for six crew members. Water was limited, Internet shortages were severe, and our days were packed full of "Marswalks", cooking, growing plants in the greenhouse and general Hab maintenance.


Crew 133 engineer Joseph Jessup in front of the Mars Desert Research Station habitat near Hanksville, Utah. Credit: Elizabeth Howell

Every time we went outside, we had to don mock spacesuits to get the job done. That's because on Mars, you can't head out the door unprotected – quite simply, you'll die. Even a pretend spacesuit takes a while to put on. First you don the jumpsuit, then put on boots and "gaiters" to protect your lower limbs from mud. Next comes the backpack, which includes a fan you'll need to drive circulation in the helmet, which you put on last and attach with two hoses.

The first time that helmet came down on my head, I had a moment of "Gosh, this feels so small." But you get used to it very quickly because the focus is not on wearing the spacesuit, but doing tasks for hours upon hours while wearing it. After a while, Spacesuit 8 became a second skin to me. I knew when I put it on, fun things were going to happen and that we'd help move the science forward another increment for future crews.

These days, I browse the crew photos and think about the fun we had on the mission, at least when we weren't getting all muddy or hot from doing work outside. This was a great example about how doing something unusual will lead to professional and personal connections for the rest of our lives.

Already, research collaborations have started and I am looking at changing my vacation plans to spend more time with the amazing members of Crew 133.

Elizabeth Howell is the communications manager of AWB and spent two weeks at the Mars Society's Mars Desert Research Station in January 2014.

Watch Our January 2014 Google+ Hangout


Watch our monthly Google+ Hangout to learn how how AWB's successful eclipse glasses donation program has sparked astronomy education in Africa. President Mike Simmons shows photos from his meeting in Tunisia with astronomers from the region including Algeria, Libya, and Iraq. Also, the latest installation of AstroArtswith Dr. Rachel Armstrong of the Institute for Interstellar Studies.

For all past hangouts, please look at our AWB Hangout Video page. Thanks for watching.

Your GAM Pictures Could Appear On Video

Romania SARM 2010

Global Astronomy Month each April is the world's largest global celebration of astronomy, bringing together cultures worldwide under the motto "One People, One Sky." Hundreds of events are held all over the globe, and we would love to showcase your efforts from 2013 and the years before.

Send us your pictures of participants in past GAM events, and we will choose the best ones to appear in a GAM promotional video for 2014! Here are the requirements:

  • Show people having fun at GAM, whether looking through a telescope, admiring art, or whatever your community was doing;
  • Include a caption with the photo explaining what is happening, and identifying who is in the photo (if you can);
  • Also tell us who took the photo. (Please, before you send, ensure that we have permission to republish this photo on the AWB website and related materials.)
  • Ensure photos are in JPG format, at a minimum resolution of 1920×1080 pixels.

Send them to [email protected] no later than Thursday, Nov. 28.

Watch Our October Google+ Hangout

Our monthly Google+ Hangout Oct. 31, 2013 talked about the efforts to bring eclipse glasses to thousands of children in Africa, a Saturn mosaic from The Day The Earth Smiled, and other initiatives.

For all past hangouts, please look at our new AWB Hangout Video page. Thanks for watching.

Help collect an Earth Master Sample

Organizers of World Space Week, in keeping with their theme of “Exploring Mars, Discovering Earth,” are planning to literally bring two worlds together in order to send a powerful message about the importance of and broad support for interplanetary exploration and scientific understanding of the solar system. They need your help to collect an “Earth master sample” that will be made into a unique set of crystals that are part Earth and part Mars.


Where Do You Celestron?

Celestron’s new video release “Where Do You Celestron?” features AWB’s Founder and President, Mike Simmons, who says, “I Celestron anywhere I am on Earth.” Celestron’s video also introduces experts with remarkable Celestron applications far beyond astronomy.

“I Celestron in Wisconsin and all over the world,” said Dave Eicher, Editor of Astronomy Magazine. After seeing Saturn through a telescope eyepiece at his first star party, Eicher bought his first scope, a Celestron-8. See the Celestron video and find out what really blew Eicher’s mind out there in the universe. See Tony Berendsen who says “ I Celestron at Tahoe Star Tours” and find out what brought tears to the eyes of a guest the first time he looked through Tony’s SkyProdigy-6.


AWB Solar Viewing Glasses Donation Program

A new Astronomers Without Borders program will provide thousands of free eclipse viewing glasses to schools across Africa where a solar eclipse will take place on 3 November. This is a rare opportunity to expose students to science in a region where science resources are often non-existent. Anyone can purchase safe eclipse viewing glasses, in any amount, for donation to African schools. The need is great.

awb eclipse news