Is it too late to make a New Year's resolution? I hope to make more postings to my blog during 2009. I'm sure some won't merit being lofted to the status of "homepage news," so you'll probably have to find them under Astronomy Online. They'll be included in the Weekly Bulletin in any case.Thanks to the Google Earth Blog, this week I learned of a new respectable way to "buy" a star. Instead of merely getting a meaningless certificate, the money goes to help research. In this case, the Kepler mission (as of today, scheduled for launch on March 6th — the same day The Watchmen is scheduled to open!), which will stare at one part of the sky looking for extrasolar planets. For $10, you can "adopt" one of the stars in the field as part of the Pale Blue Dot Project to help fund data analysis.
You can select a star by using Google Earth, or more directly, the Google Earth Plug-in installed in your Web browser. Zoom in and find a good star and note its ID. Then click the Donate button. Adopt one for yourself or someone else, and later you may find out that it has planet(s) orbiting it.
Speaking of sponsorship, have you been listening to the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast? It's the official podcast of IYA2009. You can sponsor one of the shows for $25! Dedicate one of these informational and fun shows to a friend or family member or promote your astronomy club. You can pick a specific date, if it's available. And there are still plenty of open days in the schedule if you want to contribute a podcast of your own. Go ahead, be an Internet star! Visit the website to find out the details.