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An IfA Friend’s Facebook Journey

by John Goody, Friend of the IfA

The IfA website and linked Friends of IfA web pages are fine destinations for catching up on the doings at the IfA and Friends events. They provide sources of interesting articles and findings at the forefront of astronomy. At these websites, one can find all the major IfA programs; visit the summits of Mauna Kea and Haleakala through maps, photos, and web cams; access the schedule of upcoming events and public talks; and dig into some challenging and fascinating articles.

So I was surprised to learn that the Friends of IfA also has a Facebook page. I admit to being a dinosaur when it comes to social media. Where does one find the time, and seriously, why? But, upon examination, there is more to it than one might think. I took a cruise through its postings and found the answer to my own question.

Unlike the website, a deliberate library of information, the Facebook page is dynamic, flowing with current postings from astronomers and others around the world linking cutting-edge ideas and concepts with disputation and debate. There are a myriad of links to other places with insights and opinions from technical experts and other site visitors. Like democracy, it’s a little bit messy, but out of the mix and following the links emerges a community of people and ideas on a range of related and not so related subjects. Depending on how you follow the links, it can become an interesting journey.

From the IfA home page, I just clicked on the Facebook “f” under the Friends logo on the lower right side. Started with happenings at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo; there is a busy schedule. Hmmm, here’s something on Griffith Observatory, in Los Angeles. That observatory also has many interesting educational programs, and it is of course located within the famous park of the same name. An unfortunate victim of light pollution, the observatory is no longer at the forefront of scientific discovery.

Speaking of light pollution, let’s check a related posting on the Griffith Observatory page from the International Dark-Sky Association, whose mission it is to reduce light pollution so we can all appreciate the night sky, and incidentally, help the environment. Did you know that light pollution is aggravating air pollution by destroying a naturally occurring nitrate radical that would otherwise combine with certain airborne chemicals, thereby reducing photochemical smog? Artificial light, while weaker than sunlight, still impairs the cleansing process by up to 7 percent. We won’t even get into the sea turtle nesting issue. Light pollution programs are up and running from Metro Manila to Ukraine. No wonder!

Continuing on, while trying to retain some focus, I passed up related pages from Celestron and Meade—not interested in a shopping trip. On the other hand, “Meteorite Men,” a new Science Channel series to start this fall, looks good. But I skipped that and went on to the “Globe at Night.”

Well, you get the picture. Check out the FIfA Facebook page. Friends coordinator Roy Gal updates it daily. You won’t be disappointed.

Friends website
Friends on Facebook:  Facebook