Category Archives: Science

New Year’s Eve Sponsor Spotlight-L3 Academy

Girl with abacus

Girl with abacus

We’re pleased to welcome Montclair’s L3 Academy as a sponsor for Family New Year’s Rock-n-Roll Ball at The Old Mogul Theatre tomorrow 12/31! This innovative learning center is offering free enrollment in a course as a giveaway by random drawing at our event.

L3 Academy is short for Lifelong Learning Academy, LLC. L3 is focused on providing fun, educational programs that go beyond the common enrichment or continuing education programs for ages 3 and up. While enrichment and continuing education programs offer exposure to a variety of subjects, we hope that our programs provide a more in-depth opportunity for our students to diligently learn, while having hands-on fun. Initial program offerings include language immersion for Mandarin and Spanish, Early Childhood Enrichment, Interdisciplinary Programs as well as Science, Technology, Engineering and Math programs.

Learn more about L3 Academy in Montclair here.

Get your tickets to Family New Year’s Rock-n-Roll Ball here.


Get Your (Name???) To Mars!

Since I was a child, I was always fascinated with space travel. Star Trek and Star Wars were one thing, but to learn that just one year before I was born, people had begun walking on the Moon…

My younger brother Matt and I used to play the Apollo 11 crew in our backyard. Of course I played Neil Armstrong and Matt was always Buzz Aldrin. My favorite Halloween costume was a very official looking NASA space suit. Speaking of Buzz, he’s originally from my current hometown of Montclair, NJ; he recently got our town’s first ever ‘key to the city.’

Now that we’ve “been there done that” with the Moon, our next sights are on Mars. Today NASA revealed a project where it will send the names of all interested parties from all over the world along on an unmanned mission to the red planet. Here’s my “boarding pass.”

Here’s where you can get your name added quickly, easily, for free.

Other favorite memories include a family trip to Kennedy Space Center in Florida, seeing an exact replica of the Lunar Lander at the Smithsonian, and launching an Estes model rocket with my dad in the school parking lot across the street from my first childhood house. The taste of that freeze-dried ice cream kind of grows on me too. I look forward to sharing these experiences with my daughter as she grows.

What are your experiences with all things space related? Is it a big part of your family’s imagination time? Have you travelled to the Kennedy Center, Smithsonian, Intrepid, Mission Control or anywhere with a space history?

Jason Didner's boarding pass to Mars in NASA's Send Your Name project

My first time seeing a spacecraft in flight!

This was my first time seeing a spacecraft in flight with my naked eye. A very cool experience; one I hope everyone gets to have! It looked like a bright dot that emerged from behind the obstruction of trees and houses looking out my bedroom window. It appeared to gradually rise as it moved to the left across the sky. Very clearly not a plane, in a fiery yellow-orange glow.

This mission is sending a satellite to orbit the Moon and collect information about the Moon’s thin atmosphere and dust from the rock below.

Photo from

Photo from

A company called Orbital Sciences Corporation has partnered with NASA to build and launch the Minotaur V rocket with NASA’s LADEE (pronounced like ‘laddie,’ not like ‘lady‘) orbiter on top. LADEE stands for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.

A Rocket to the Moon Tonight!

Tonight an American private-public partnership with NASA will send a rocket to orbit the Moon from Virginia. In the New York metro area, you can look to the southern sky at 11:25 PM. The rocket will appear to move from the right to the left as it arcs up slightly off the horizon.

View of the rocket's path looking south from Battery Park, NYC.

View of the rocket’s path looking south from Battery Park, NYC.

This is a great time to check out our song Peek-a-boo Moon and start a conversation with your kids about the moon.

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If you’re not in the viewing area (Maine to North Carolina) you can watch live on

By the way, it’s a New Moon, so you won’t see the moon in the sky tonight. Post your comments if you see the rocket tonight!