All posts tagged: Astronomy

A Contemplative Approach to Viewing the Eclipse

By Andrea Schweitzer, Ph.D. in astronomy // There has been a lot of news about the upcoming “Great American Solar Eclipse” on August 21, 2017.  If you are able to get to a location for totality of the eclipse, it will be an incredible experience to remember.  Or, if you’re only able to see the partial eclipse, that is enjoyable and worthwhile, too! There is a lot of detailed information being published about the eclipse *(see resources below). I would like to suggest that it is also important to contemplate how you might like to feel as you witness this celestial event. Hopefully this will be a memory to last a lifetime, and that is worth considering in advance. Quiet and Reflective Observe the eclipse from under a tree, and be surrounded by a myriad of crescent suns. Play with your fingers and enjoy the “pinhole projection”  effect. Celebratory Invite others to join you, and plan an eclipse party.  There are many educational activities  for kids and adults that you can do before and during the eclipse. …

Summer Solstice, Explained by a Contemplative Astronomer

By Andrea Schweitzer, PhD ~~~ This year, summer will officially begin on June 20th at 4:34 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time, which is the summer solstice. This is the day with the most hours of sunlight during the whole year, in the Northern Hemisphere. The opposite will happen in the Southern Hemisphere, which will have the longest night of the year and their winter solstice. The mid-points in between the solstices are the equinoxes, which occur in spring and fall when the hours of day and night are equal, and when the Sun is overhead at the equator. All this happens because the Earth is tilted on its axis (by 23.5 degrees with respect to our orbit around the Sun). So when we’re on one side of our orbit, the Northern Hemisphere is tipped so that the Sun is higher in the sky. The Sun’s rays arrive at a more favorable angle for warming — thus heating the Northern Hemisphere for summer. In ancient cultures, the solstices and equinoxes were considered auspicious times of the year. The …

A Weekend in Space

Last summer I had the pleasure of participating in SMC’s Contemplative Astronomy program: Big Sky, Big Mind, led by astronomer Andrea Schweitzer, Ph.d , and Jim Tolstrup, Executive Director of the High Plains Environmental Center and former SMC Land Steward. The program was an engaging variety of practical lessons about our universe, (ranging from night sky constellation viewing to kinesthetic astronomy, in which we examined the spatial relationships of our solar system and the earth’s rotation using inflatable planets), and spiritual explorations of our relationship to the stars, as individuals and as a culture — through nighttime meditation, discussions, and a presentation by Jim on ancient Lakota star knowledge. As a space nerd myself, proudly sporting my NASA t-shirt, I was ecstatic to be part of this program. It significantly expanded my understanding of the glorious night sky but also deepened my sense of connection to the magic of our existence on this planet, by exploring how the pull of the sun’s gravity on Earth affects our daily life and perception of seasons, time, and direction …

Big Sky, Big Mind: Discussing Contemplative Astronomy with Andrea Schweitzer, PhD

  Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Big Sky, Big Mind: Contemplative Astronomy Workshop with Andrea Schweitzer and Jim Tolstrup, September 5–7, 2014. Throughout history, we have looked to the skies to follow the rhythm of the seasons and to ponder life’s mysteries. Andrea Schweitzer is on a cosmic mission to reignite our passion for the stars by using interactive, kinesthetic astronomy to experience the movement of the celestial bodies. In this interview, she shares her inspiration and and guides our gazes skyward. If you’d like to download the audio file, CLICK HERE and find the “Download” button. Otherwise, you can stream the audio below. ~~~ Andrea Schweitzer, PhD, is an astronomer with the Little Thompson Observatory in Berthoud, Colorado. Having collaborated with NASA on programs such as the Hubble Space Telescope and the Voyager missions, she balances her work with her personal practices of stargazing, yoga, and meditation.