Someday I hope to see the Aurora Borealis in person. Until then, I’ll continue to settle for amazing photos of it. The following photo, taken by US astronaut Douglas Wheelock from space over Europe at night, was included in the November 22nd Triggerpit post, “Incredible Space Pics from ISS by NASA astronaut Wheelock.” The aurora is visible on the skyline as a green glow.

europe

Check out the full set of archived images from astronaut Wheelock, archived in a Flickr set by Triggerpit.

Few things can inspire thinking about science, exploration and adventure like amazing images from space.

Colonel Wheelock is @Astro_Wheels on Twitter. If you’re interested in science and space, consider following and encouraging your own students to follow Wheelock and other astronauts. The official NASA twitter account @nasa_astronauts follows 26 astronauts currently. Clayton Anderson (@Astro_Clay), Mark Kelly (@ShuttleCDRKelly), Marcos Pontes (@Astro_Pontes), and many more are listed. After following an astronaut on Twitter, pay attention to the other folks Twitter recommends following as well. Ed Van Cise (@Carbon_Flight – Flight Director at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in the Mission Control Center,) Lori Garver (@Lori_Garver – Deputy Administrator, NASA,) Beth Beck (@bethbeck – NASA: Space Operations Outreach Manager) and NASA JPL (@NASAJPL – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s News Office) are examples of other, related Twitter users I learned about this way.

I couldn’t readily find a Twitter list someone else had started for astronauts, so I went ahead and created one: twitter.com/wfryer/astronauts. I’m following 33 so far. I won’t promise to keep this updated regularly, but it certainly could help you get started following more astronauts! I’m going to subscribe to this list as a new section on Flipboard (free) on my iPad.

Consider the possibilities here. Paolo Nespoli, an astronaut currently aboard the International Space Station, just tweeted a link to the following image on Flickr of an undisclosed Asian capital at night.

An Asian Capital. Which one?

His challenge to viewers?

An Asian Capital. Which one?

Una capitale asiatica. Quale?

Do you think your students would enjoy using the resources at their disposal to figure out the answer? I’m betting they would. Consider giving your students challenges like these in 2011, by bringing REAL scientists, engineers, and space adventurers like Paolo Nespoli and Douglas Wheelock into your classroom via Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Flipboard, and other blended learning tools.

Not able to access those websites from your school network? Perhaps the “Balanced Filtering in Schools” project will be able to help you with that advocacy and community education need… soon. Resources like these from astronauts are exactly the kind of relevant, real-time media we need to share with students in our classrooms.

As classroom teachers, we are in one of the most influential positions to help inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, technology inventors, and mathematics gurus. As digitally connected learners, we are blessed to have access to not only Internet-based resources, but also REAL PEOPLE like these sharing their experiences with us as they happen.

Our access to plentiful quantities of information is going to continue increasing at a dizzying pace in our lifetimes. Awash in this sea of information, we will continue to find “priceless” those human beings who can inspire us to dream dreams bigger than ourselves. Never underestimate or undervalue your own potential to influence the minds of others to dream and to ask good questions.

For more inspirational photos from space, see this December 23rd post from astronaut Wheelock. Wow.

I have been enjoying the stunning and unique landscape of Sou... on Twitpic

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