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  • Biography
    homeschool dad of five kids
  • Location
    cleveland, ohio, usa
  • Interests
    reading, outdoors
  • Occupation
    patent agent, wannabe self-publisher
  1. If I might comment on this point directly, I've had a spectrum of feedback about S&S. There have been irate moms who have written to say there is not enough content there, that it is very simple and should be for very small children, not highschoolers. Then there are the "stressed out moms" who tell me it's too hard, that they and their highschoolers can't handle such a difficult course. Other moms have reported that S&S has been a wonderful experience for their kids, and a couple have said it "transformed their homeschool." I figure these are the ones who have used the course as intended, as a guide to diligent observation of the sky. S&S was prepared to cover a scope of material that is consistent with traditional observational astronomy, as understood in ancient, medieval, and early modern times. A typical astronomy course usually features "big ball astronomy" -- the usual "Grand Tour of the Solar System," emphasizing factoids from modern astronomy about the planets and miscellaneous objects in space, derived from scientific data, and handed down on authority, with no observational method. The point of S&S is to teach readers to become observers of the sky, hence the illustrations (2-4 per page) that represent the outdoor scenes, correlated with a celestial perspective. Because it is illustrated, some moms think it is a comic book for babies. The moms who have stressed out apparently do so because the scope is so different than their expectations compared with typical "big ball" books. Most of those who have struggled have reported to have just read the book without attempting to perform outdoor observations. Clearly, S&S is not for everyone, and I counsel anyone to not attempt it unless they are serious about consistent outdoor field observation, and learning a lost and forgotten method of studying the sky, which is a truly "classical" approach to science, in my opinion.
  2. Hi Ladies, sorry for chipping in late, thanks for all the kind words about Signs & Seasons. (Yeah, I do still drop in at WTM once in a while, used to be a regular about 12 years ago). S&S is completely illustrated since astronomy is a visual subject, therefore requiring a visual medium to communicate the information. I've been told this approach is not "classical" enough for some people, but they can find something that uses a 1000 extra words to explain what can be shown in a single image. As for the age range, I think the web site says recommended for 13+ but usable with younger kids with parental guidance. The age rating was chosen because I think the language might be too sophisticated for younger readers, and I did not want to compete with Jeannie Fulbright's book from Apologia (which outsells S&S by like a hundred to one). But a child is never too young to begin making friends with the stars, and I myself learned Orion and the Big Dipper at age 7 (though I did not learn any more until my 20s). If anyone has any questions, feel free to drop me a line through my site, www.ClassicalAstronomy.com. We have a page by that name on Facebook. Thanks! -jay
  3. Anybody here ready for these upcoming sky events? There will be a solar eclipse visible over North America on Sunday, May 20. For much of the USA, this will be visible as a partial eclipse at sunset, where the Sun will go down with a "bite" taken out! I haven't seen one of these in 10 years, so it's a fairly rare event. Even more rare is the Venus transit on Tuesday, June 5. The body of the planet Venus will be seen as a black dot passing over the face of the Sun. This will also be visible at sunset for the entire USA. There will not be another until A.D 2117, so this is the last chance for everyone alive today to see this in their lifetime. The media will pick up these stories at the last minute, but if you're not prepared, it will be too late. More info about these events and needed resources is available in our recent newsletter. http://aweber.com/t/68imk
  4. Hi Kate, I still do surf into WTM once in a while, but don't post much (judging from my hive level, or whatever you call it. What am I, a bee larva or something?) Thanks for the kind words about S&S! FWIW, I always am happy to provide email "tech support" to anyone who is struggling with the course. I get so few takers, maybe a couple a year, so it's not a problem on my end. Who else in homeschooling gives curriculum buyers their money's worth like that? :) thanks again, jay
  5. There is a review and giveaway of our Signs & Seasons astronomy curriculum posted at the blog, "Whatever State I Am." Click the link for details. Thanks. http://whateverstateiam.com/2011/08/03/review-and-giveaway-signs-seasons/ (I don't know if this post would be considered self-serving, and I apologize if so, mods, please delete.)
  6. Thanks everyone, especially Jean, for your comments. Just breezing through WTM and saw this thread. I'm happy to answer any questions directly, just send an email through my site, since I don't visit here often. The whole point of S&S is to learn the sky as actually seen and understood throughout classical times and all history prior to the 19th century. It's not intended to be a "sit and read the book" course, since a 2-dimesional page is a poor imitation of God's 3-dimensional sky. As for cloudy weather, I recommend using a planetarium program like Stellarium (free open source app) for making simulated "virtual observations." But that's just in a pinch, since there's no substitute for the real thing. Thanks again for your interest in our work. -jay
  7. (Surfing in late here, sorry....) FWIW, my 10yo son read and understood the whole thing while I was writing it. The objective of the S&S course is to go outside and observe the sky. This is why every page is heavily illustrated, to depict what one might hope to see outside. I don't agree with "armchair" science curricula, where the entire learning experience is merely contained within the pages of the book. Science is supposed to be the direct study of God's natural world, and that cannot be accomplished by just reading a book. I've had some people peruse the sample and imply that S&S looks like "a comic book, for very small children." I doubt if young kids are prepared to tackle the observing activities, especially the data tabulation and analysis. Though S&S was created to be visually appealling, I've had some moms complain of the difficulty of the subject matter, since there are no other books or other materials anywhere that encompass the scope of this forgotten area of science, and most of the concepts are new to most readers, and require effort to comprehend. Anyway, when I had a pick an age level, I decided on 13+ to not compete with the astronomy curriculum of my friend Jeannie Fulbright, which would be no competition since she sells about 15 times as many copies each year as me. However, young kids are more sharp-eyed and observant, and are thus actually better prepared to learn the constellations and otherwise observe the sky. The course can easily be completed in a semester, or even over the summer, but I tried to provide enough activities to fill 120 hours for a Carnegie Unit credit. I'm happy to answer any questions via email if you'd like to drop a line. Thanks for your interest in our curricula. -jay
  8. Happy Passover, alpidarkomama. Question for you, as I am just an ignorant Gentile trying to understand. I read in Exodus 12 and Numbers 28 that the Passover is on the 14th day. The latter chapter also says that the 15th is the first day of unleavened bread. I see different modern Jewish sources that say either 14 Nisan or 15 Nisan for Passover. Not sure if this is because the modern Jewish calendar is tabulated in advance rather than based on sightings of the New Moon at Jerusalem, as was in Biblical times, or maybe there is something else. Can you help me understand?
  9. The Full Moon is next Sunday evening, April 17, for observers in the Americas. That evening at sundown is the start of 14 Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, or Passover. Most people today do not realize that the Bible teaches that Passover falls on the first Full Moon of spring. You can follow the waxing gibbous Moon over the next few nights, and observe the coming of Passover in the evening sky. Here's some more info: http://www.classicalastronomy.com/news/anmviewer.asp?a=19&z=13
  10. Hi, just surfing into WTM and saw your post. I created Signs & Seasons to be ultimately flexible (much to the consternation of the many very rigid homeschool moms out there!) Anyway, though the course is recommended for 13+, my son read and followed it when he was 10. The book can be read in a couple weeks of casual reading, and the field activities are all electives. In other words, you can fit into a short span, or drag it out for a whole year, if you like. I've heard about students completing the course in as little as three months. Please drop me an email at my site if you have any questions. (Not sure when I might be back to WTM to read this thread). Thanks and God bless, jay
  11. Missed this before, sorry. You probably saw a shadow transit of one of the Jovian moons across the face of Jupiter. These are very common occurrences and there are tables and software online for finding the times. Not sure where, but the Sky & Telescope site is a good place to look.
  12. Hi Lisa, thanks, I drop in WTM from time to time. It's always been a "mom-only" environment around here! :) I assume you're looking at Jupiter and Uranus through a scope. Yesterday was the closest conjunction of these two, only 0.9 degrees, and I'm sure they made an interesting pair as seen in the eyepiece. For my part, I rarely drag out the scope and missed it. I forgot to mention that in my newsletter, even though such conjunctions occur at 12 year intervals. FWIW, Jupiter is presently retrograding, and after it moves east again, it will swing past to Uranus on the evening of Jan 2, 2011. That time it will be even closer, only 0.6 degrees separation, a little more than a Moon diameter. Venus and Mars will make their closest pass next Tuesday evening, September 28. It will be a challenge to spot Mars as it will be a distant 6 degrees away from Venus, and very faint, low in the sky during twilight and nearly on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth. I'd recommend a very flat horizon for looking for Mars, such as over water. Are you on the Gulf Coast? I'm still seeing Venus in the evening, but it is low to the southwest due to the inclination of the ecliptic in the current season. Send me an email if you succeed in spotting Mars in the coming week.
  13. BTW, my free email newsletter covers these sorts of things all the time, if anyone is interested in subscribing through my site (link below)
  14. If you're interested in sky happenings, be sure to keep your eyes on the sky tonight as the Harvest Moon is in conjunction with Jupiter on the evening of the autumnal equinox. Also watch for the next few evenings to observe the Moon draw away from Jupiter. -jay http://www.aweber.com/archive/classical-astro/dqpO/h/Classical_Astronomy_Update.htm
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