In the news: 2013 – The Year of Solar Flare

Image

The sun erupted with an X1.7 class solar flare on May 12th, 2013. This is a blend of two images of the flare from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. One image shows the light in the 171-angstrom wavelength and the other show the 131 angstroms.

Are science fiction literature authors correct when they write about solar flares causing Earth’s communications to fail and causing catastrophes worldwide or is this simply a convenient plot device? The year 2013 has seen the most solar flares since 2003 because the Sun’s magnetic field cycle is reversing polarization, as it does every 11 years. This reversal causes larger and more frequent solar flares, which explains why this year has seen a large number of these impressive solar weather occurrences in many years.  National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) officials say “the sun’s normal 11-year activity cycle is ramping up toward solar maximum, which is expected in late 2013” (NASA News, 2013, found below).

Early in October the Earth was treated to a wonderful display of Northern Lights, illuminating the sky with brilliant dancing colors throughout the Northern United States and Canada. A solar flare directed at the Earth sent a larger than average stream of magnetized radiation at the Earth, which reacted with the Earth’s own gravity and magnetic field, creating Northern Lights. This particular flare was a class M, which was not strong enough to disrupt any satellites or space stations orbiting the Earth but is still considered impressive by NASA’s standards.

The question remains: how will these solar flares affect technology and are they dangerous to the Earth? Below are some informative links explaining what solar flares are, how they affect technology, and how they are studied.

What are solar flares and why are they important:

Solar Flare Theory Educational Web Pages (find it on the ipl2)
http://hesperia.gsfc.nasa.gov/sftheory/index.htm

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in the Heliophysics Science Division offers a detailed look at solar flares, explaining what a solar flare is, why it’s important to study solar flares, and what impact solar flares have. Additionally, this site reviews current research projects in the field of solar flares, such as the RHESSI Spacecraft.

NASA News (find it on the ipl2)
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/News060813-m5.9flare_prt.htm

On June 8th, 2013, NASA announced that a class M solar flare had occurred on June 7th. NASA explained effects such as moderate radio blackout are common with class M solar flares. NASA officials also stated that increased solar weather activities, like flares, were likely to occur more frequently in 2013, as the magnetic field was likely to reach “solar maximum.” The United States Space Weather Prediction Center with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association predicts that the solar flare activities are likely to increase late in 2013.

The Sun Also Flips: 11-Year Solar Cycle Wimpy, but Peaking (New!)
http://www.news.wisc.edu/22222

University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Terry Devitt provides an in depth explanation of the solar flare and of solar maxes, explaining that the Sun’s magnetic field reverses direction every 11 years, causing sunspots, solar flares, auroras, and geomagnetic storms.  Devitt also discusses the effects of superflares and their potential global threat to the Earth.

The not-so Northern Lights: Solar Flare Slams into Earth to Display Majestic Aurora as Far South as Kansas, Maine and Donegal (New!)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2442531/Solar-flare-causes-Northern-Lights-US-Kansas-Maine-Donegal.html#ixzz2iNzp8EQf

The Daily Mail Online explains how a powerful solar flare brought the Northern Lights as far south as Kansas, Main, and Donegal (a town in Ireland). The site explains the phenomena and includes many lovely photos from Paul Cyr illustrating an Amish family experiencing the Lights for the first time. The Daily explains what a solar flare is, why it occurs, and that in December of 2013 this solar flare cycle will reach its peak, undoubtedly creating more Northern Lights.

How do they affect technology on the Earth:

The Effects of Solar Flares on Technology (New!)
http://www.ehow.com/list_7584091_effects-solar-flares-technology.html

eHow explains the Effects of Solar Flares on Technology in a manner that is clear and easy to understand. eHow explains the Sun’s 11 year magnetic energy cycle and its effect on the rate of solar flare as it changes.  The site additionally outlines the effect on the power grids, GPS technology, and mobile devices.

Could an Extremely Powerful Solar Flare Destroy all the Electronics on Earth? (find it on the ipl2)
http://science.howstuffworks.com/solar-flare-electronics.htm

In Jonathan Strickland’s article with HowStuffWorks.com, he explains the nature of the sun, solar flares, and the potential for damage for our planet when a solar flare happens. Strickland explains that the majority of flares are absorbed in our atmosphere, creating Northern Lights and leaving the majority of people unharmed, but for people in space or at high altitudes skin cancer or irritation is a risk depending of the flare’s classification; additionally Strickland explains the vulnerability of satellites and electronics. The last super-storm from the Sun happened in 1859, when a flare so powerful occurred that Cubans saw the Northern Light. Strickland explains that if a similar flare happened today, it would take months to repair the damage.

Solar Flare Warning Issued by NASA (New!)
http://www.inquisitr.com/914975/solar-flare-warning-issued-by-nasa/

On August 21st NASA issued a Solar Flare Warning as a storm hurtled toward the Earth at 3 million mph, interrupting some satellites used for GPSs and airline communications. The article from Inquisitor explains that 3 million mph is an average speed for solar storms. Additionally the Northern Lights is an extraordinary side effect of the these storms.  When the solar radiation from the the flare hits the Earth’s magnetic field, the radiation breaks up in the atmosphere creating the Northern Lights in the sky, which are brightest at the poles of the Earth where the magnetic field is the strongest.

Solar Effects (find it on the ipl2)
http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/info/SolarEffects.html

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Space Weather Predictions Centers (SWPC) offers detailed descriptions of solar effects, including solar cycles, solar-terrestrial effects (the solar weather’s effects on earth), and a look at SWPC’s other solar weather operations. The table provided on this site is particularly helpful in laying out the specific effects that solar weather has on the Earth.

How do we study the sun:

Scientists have High Hopes for Japan’s Solar-B Mission Which has been Launched from the Uchinoura Space Port (find it on the ipl2)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/5371162.stm

Here the BBC’s Jonathan Amos discusses Japan’s new mission to study solar explosions. In September of 2006, Japan sent the spacecraft Solar-B into space carrying a probe, which will find out more about the Sun’s magnetic fields that cause solar flares when their 11-year cycle changes, flinging radiation into space. Amos explains that the probe will act as magnet to study the sun, giving scientists the hope that with finer detail they will be able to predict solar flares more accurate and avoid disaster in the future.

The Classification of X-ray Solar Flares or “Solar Flare Alphabet Soup” (find it on the ipl2)
http://spaceweather.com/glossary/flareclasses.html

SpaceWeather.com gives a unique look into the science of classifying solar flares. By analyzing strength of wattage, or the measurement of light admitted from the Sun, in a measurement called an Angstrom, scientists are able to determine the classifications; for example 10^-5.5 watts measures up to a class M solar event.  The site then explains how class X could lead to lasting radio blackout and radiation, class M would cause radiation in the Earth’s magnetic field and radio blackouts around the pole, and class C are unnoticed by the public.

Strongest Solar Flare in Months Unleashed by Sun (find it on the ipl2)
http://www.nbcnews.com/science/strongest-solar-flare-months-unleashed-sun-8C11369482

NBC’s Denise Chow offers a clear explanation of the class system for solar flares in a report of the event on October 9th, 2013, when at 9:48pm EDT one of the strongest solar flare in two months occurred. Chow illustrates the role of Earth’s magnetic field and how the flare could disrupt communications on Earth.

Our Sun (New!)
http://www.kidsastronomy.com/our_sun.htm

This children’s site illustrates the fundamentals of solar astronomy, highlighting key points like x-ray classification of solar flares, convection, thermonuclear fusion, and sun spots and winds. This site is particularly helpful because it offers HD video from NASA and the Kids Know It Network.

NASA Canyon of Fire on the Sun (find it on the ipl2)
http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/nasa-releases-movie-of-suns-canyon-of-fire/#.UmmFvfmsiSo

Nasa’s YouTube Channel offers look at an eruption of solar material that occurred in late September. The video illustrates how the Sun is actually made out of plasma, and as magnetic fields change cycles, eruptions, like solar flares, can happen. This video demonstrates that by analyzing the eruption at different wavelengths, as demonstrated by the multiple colors, scientists are able to study the magnetic field around the Sun.

The Link: Going Nuclear

Model of atom. Vector graphic by Ahnode, public domain.

Model of atom. Vector graphic by Ahnode, public domain.

Due to its direct contribution to creation of the atomic bomb, nuclear science is a controversial topic. Since the discovery of the atom, however, this branch of physics that studies the tiniest workings of our world has shaped it in very big ways.

Learn about the history of the atom bomb, nuclear energy, nuclear weapons, teaching students about the bomb, and the future of nuclear science.

New resources that will be added to the ipl2 are noted NEW! All other resources can already be found in the ipl2 collection.

A Brief History of the Atomic Bomb

Ernest Rutherford.

Ernest Rutherford, “Father of Nuclear Physics.” Public domain.

What began covertly in 1939 as a joint effort of Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States surprised the world when the products of the Manhattan Project, gun-type fission weapon “Little Boy,” and implosion-type weapon “Fat Man,” were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Check out these resources for more information on the development of the atomic bomb that changed the world.

Nuclear History at the National Security Archive (find it on the ipl2)

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nsa/NC/nuchis.html

The George Washington University hosts the U.S. Nuclear History Documentation Project. They have posted a selection of declassified documents through the Freedom of Information Act that have helped shape the U.S. nuclear weapons policies since 1955.

Atomic Archive (find it on the ipl2)

http://www.atomicarchive.com

AJ Software and Multimedia maintains a wealth of resources pertaining to the creation and impact of the atomic bomb. Featured areas of the site cover the science behind the bomb, the history of its creation, biographies of the people who worked on the Manhattan Project, and a multimedia section complete with animation, photographs, and videos.

NEW! NUKEMAP

http://www.nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/

Have you ever wondered what if would have happened if “Fat Man” or “Little Boy” had been dropped on other locations across the globe? A historian of science at the American Institute of Physics maintains Restricted Data: The Nuclear Secrecy Blog. His NUKEMAP shows the predicted extent of nuclear fallout on a map, given a target and type of bomb.

Nuclear Energy

Nuclear Power Plant.

Nuclear power plant in Cattenom, France. Photo by Stefan Kühn, used with permission under a Creative Commons license.

Nuclear energy, or nuclear power, uses sustained nuclear fission to generate heat and electricity, and according to the International Energy Agency, it currently provides 5.7 percent of the world’s energy. The use of nuclear energy is a controversial topic, however, for both political and environmental reasons. Get down to the bottom of the debate with the following resources.

Nuclear Energy Institute (find it on the ipl2)

http://www.nei.org/

NEI provides news articles and resources about nuclear energy, technologies, and public policy.  The institute encourages the safe exploration of nuclear energy through education, advocacy, and policy.

ProCon.org: Alternative Energy (find it on the ipl2)

http://alternativeenergy.procon.org/

ProCon.org provides research in a pro-con format on “controversial issues” related to business, health medicine, law, politics, religion, science, technology, sex, gender, and sports. Their page on alternative energy covers how nuclear energy is made as well as whether or not it is cost-effective, safe for humans and the environment, and necessary to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

U.S. Office of Nuclear Energy (find it on the ipl2)

http://energy.gov/ne/office-nuclear-energy

This site offers speeches, official congressional reports, U.S. Office of Nuclear Energy staff reports and press releases from the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Nuclear Energy’s mission is to advance nuclear power through the advancement of nuclear technologies .

Virtual Nuclear Tourist: Power Plants Around the World (find it on the ipl2)

http://www.nucleartourist.com/

Produced by veteran mechanical and nuclear power engineer Joseph Gonyeau, this site describes nuclear energy safety systems, locations of power plants around the world, terrorism and security, types of nuclear plants and an overview of their workings, the environmental effects of producing nuclear power, and how nuclear energy compares to other ways of generating electricity.

Nuclear Weapons

B83 Nuclear Bomb Test

B83 nuclear bomb test with F-4C Phantom 1983. Photo by Zapka via the U.S. Air Force, public domain.

Although only two nuclear weapons have ever been used in warfare (by the United States against Japan in WWII), there is a constant international struggle to cease the proliferation of these weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Read about efforts to end the possibility of nuclear war on these sites.

North Korea and Nuclear Weapons: The Declassified U.S. Record (find it on the ipl2)

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB87/

A collection of 25 documents, with a background essay, on North Korea’s possession of nuclear arms. Released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and published on George Washington University’s aforementioned National Security Archive, this site links to other related resources.

NuclearFiles.org (find it on the ipl2)

http://www.nuclearfiles.org/

NuclearFiles.org is a project of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation providing extensive, credible information on nuclear weapons and war with the intent to “reduce nuclear dangers and eliminate nuclear weapons.” This site provides articles, treaties and non-proliferation documents, photographs of test explosions and radiation victims, ethical perspectives, biographies of scientists and government officials, timelines, and audio recordings of historical events.

Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (find it on the ipl2)

http://www.un.org/disarmament/WMD/Nuclear/NPTtext.shtml

The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) provides the text (as well as overview information) on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT) and other multilateral treaties aiming to prevent the proliferation and testing of nuclear weapons including: the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests In The Atmosphere, In Outer Space And Under Water, also known as the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT), and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). UNODA’s site also provides additional links on WMD.

Teaching Students about the Bomb

Mushroom Cloud.

Mushroom cloud. Vector graphic by Fastfission, public domain.

While nuclear science/physics is perhaps a tricky subject to teach young children, the issues surrounding it, such as nuclear power and warfare especially are can be discussed in deferential and creative ways. Try using the following sites as starting points in planning your curriculum.

A Race to Build the Atom Bomb: A Resource for Teachers and Students (find it on the ipl2)

http://intergate.cccoe.k12.ca.us/abomb/

This site, developed by the Contra Costa County Office of Education in California, provides information on the science, the scientists, and the nations involved in the development of the atomic bomb. There are also lesson plans and suggested resources for further research, including Web links, print, and nonprint materials.

Race for the Super Bomb (find it on the ipl2)

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/bomb/

As a companion to a 1999 PBS documentary, this site includes a timeline covering the development of the hydrogen bomb (also H-bomb or superbomb), map of nuclear test sites back to 1945, and video of several bomb detonations. It also provides a transcript of the program.

NEW! U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission: Students’ Corner

http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/basic-ref/students.html

The NRC has designed the Students’ Corner as a resource for student learning and research on nuclear energy, reactors, radiation, radioactive materials, emergency planning, security, decommissioning, and radioactive waste. The NRC site contains photos and diagrams copyrighted as a U.S. Government Work but may be used for educational purposes under Fair Use.

The Future of Nuclear Science

MER.

Launch of MER Opportunity from Cape Canaveral. Photo by NASA, public domain.

Despite the environmental concerns and the controversy surrounding the potentiality of nuclear war, the future of nuclear physics appears to be bright. NASA scientists continue to further develop nuclear physics in order to achieve goals in space exploration, and some believe that nuclear power may turn out to be our only energy option in the years to come.

MIT Report on Nuclear Power (find it on the ipl2)

http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/

In 2003, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed a report discussing the future of global nuclear power and utilization. This report was later updated in 2009.

NEW! NASA.gov: Nuclear Power in Outer Space

http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/hqlibrary/pathfinders/nuclear.htm

The National Aviation and Space Administration (NASA) focuses on Aeronautics, Human Exploration and Operations, Science, and Space Technology. NASA’s Headquarters Library provides information on NASA policies, several books and e-books, articles and reports, and other informational links on how nuclear science continues to contribute to space exploration.

POPSCI.com: Nuclear Stories (find it on the ipl2)

http://www.popsci.com/category/tags/nuclear

Popular Science Magazine is a longstanding science and technology magazine with the latest information on what’s happening now in both of these disciplines. Examining the nuclear tag will provide information on current events and how nuclear science is being used around the world.

Thank you for visiting the ipl2!

Reminder: You can now subscribe to ipl2’s newsletter and weekly blog posts via email as well as RSS. The “Email Subscription” feature appears prominently in the upper left-hand side of the page on the ipl2’s News and Information WordPress blog. Subscription is free and open to all!

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In the News: Immigration

President Obama and the U.S. Congress recently unveiled their proposals for an overhaul of the American immigration system. The sites below outline the history of immigration in the United States, as well as current information on this ongoing debate.

New resources that will be added to the ipl2 are noted NEW! All other resources can already be found in the ipl2 collection.

ipl2 Pathfinder: Immigration in the United States (find it on the ipl2)

http://www.ipl.org/div/pf/entry/48539

This IPL pathfinder is a starting point for research on immigration issues in the United States. This page is designed for history students of all ages, educators, and anyone who wants to explore current immigration issues. Both print and Internet resources are provided.

Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930 (find it on the ipl2)

http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/immigration/

Examine the history of immigration in America with this digital collection from the Open Collections Program of the Harvard University Library, covering the period from the signing of the Constitution to the onset of the Great Depression. Search on your own, or browse by genre, topics, themes, people, and organizations. This site also includes a timeline.

The Immigration Debate (find it on the ipl2)

http://www.npr.org/series/5310549/the-immigration-debate

This collection from National Public Radio (NPR) features questions and answers about immigration debates (immigration policy in general, illegal immigrants and the U.S. economy, and the U.S.-Mexico border), and opinions about immigration from politicians and other leaders. It also includes stories on guest workers, border control, public opinion of immigration laws, immigration rights protests, and related topics.

National Immigration Forum (find it on the ipl2)

http://www.immigrationforum.org/

The National Immigration Forum advocates and builds public support for public policies that welcome immigrants and refugees and that are fair and supportive to newcomers in our country. The resources on this web site range from important immigration facts to current events and recent immigration legislation.

Immigration Equality (find it on ipl2)

http://www.immigrationequality.org/

This site explains, promotes, and defends the immigration rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and HIV-positive people under United States immigration law. The site addresses such issues as discrimination, referrals, consultations, outreach, and emergency asylum. It has a section where immigrants and would-be immigrants share their stories. Some information is also available in Spanish.

Thank you for supporting the ipl2! We hope you found these resources informative.

Reminder: You can now subscribe to ipl2’s newsletter and weekly blog posts via email as well as RSS. The “Email Subscription” feature appears prominently in the upper left-hand side of the page on the ipl2’s News and Information WordPress blog.  Subscription is free and open to all!

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The Link: Ring in the New Year

Most cultures in recorded history have celebrated the turning of the year, and it is perhaps the most widely-celebrated holiday in the world. However, the sheer variety of dates and customs different cultures have associated with the New Year is amazing. Just about any time of the year, from bleak mid-winter to the dog days of summer, is probably New Year’s Day somewhere. Some cultures hold joyous feasts and parties, while others turn to prayer and reflection. Some New Year’s observances even turn into other holidays entirely: the ancient Celtic New Year was Samhain, the beginning of fall and a day when the dead roamed the earth – and today, many of these customs have been retained in the modern Halloween. Take some time to learn about the many fascinating forms of the New Year!

New resources that will be added to the ipl2 are noted NEW! All other resources are already listed in the ipl2 collection.

AFRICA AND THE MIDDLE EAST

NEW! New Year’s Eve in Africa
http://goafrica.about.com/od/africafestivalsandevents/a/newyears.htm
One of About.com’s expert guides gives an overview of New Year’s Eve celebrations across the continent.

NEW! Enkutatash (Ethiopian New Year): September 11
http://www.incultureparent.com/2011/08/enkutatash-ethiopian-new-year-september-11/
Enkutatash, or “gift of jewels,” marks the traditional Ethiopian New Year. Find out some traditions of this holiday, which according to legend dates to the time of the Queen of Sheba.

High Holy Days on the Net (find it on ipl2)
http://www.holidays.net/highholydays/
The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, has been celebrated in the Middle East since ancient times, and today is celebrated by Jewish people around the world. This site not only explains the meaning and customs of Rosh Hashanah and the High Holy Days, but offers holiday recipes, craft ideas, eCards, and much more!

NEW! Islamic New Year
http://open.edu/openlearn/whats-on/day-8-islamic-new-year
Ras as-Sana al-Hijreya, the Islamic New Year and the first day of the holy month Muharram, is said to commemorate the Prophet Muhammad’s flight to Medina, and is a solemn time for prayer. Along with Islam, the holiday has spread from its Middle Eastern roots around the world.

No-Rooz, The Iranian New Year at Present Times (find it on ipl2)
http://www.iranchamber.com/culture/articles/norooz_iranian_new_year.php
Iran has been celebrating the New Year on the first day of spring since ancient times. Learn about Iran’s New Year’s customs, and check out the “No-Rooz: The Zarathushtrian New Year” link at the bottom of the page to learn more about this holiday’s historical roots.

NEW! Yennayer Begins in Algeria
http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2011/01/13/feature-03
http://tinyurl.com/6n3h5gq
According to legend, Yennayer, the Amazigh (Berber) New Year, has been celebrated in northwestern Africa since the days of the Egyptian pharaohs. Learn more about this holiday’s often-delicious traditions and its renewed popularity after years of official neglect. This article is available in English, French, and Arabic.

ASIA

NEW! Diwali Festival – Hindu New Year (India)
http://www.diwalifestival.org/
This site, developed by the Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India, highlights many of the traditions, customs, celebrations and significance of the Hindu Festival of Lights, Diwali. Celebrated for five days and with different customs around Asia as well as within India itself, this site is a colorful collection of Indian religious history, gift-giving ideas, and provides links to external sites for Diwali cards, food, articles, and details about Diwali celebrations around the world.

Chinese New Year (find it on ipl2)
http://www.chinapage.com/newyear.html
Based on the lunar calendar, Chinese New Year brings about a new zoological zodiac name each year and this site “provides information on how the Chinese New Year’s Day is determined, the Chinese solar/lunar calendar, the animals of the Chinese zodiac, and significance of Chinese dragons, calligraphy, and Chinese graphics.” In addition to historical information, this site also provides links to other yearly calendars from around the world.

NEW! Cambodian New Year (Chaul Chnam Thmey)
http://ethnomed.org/culture/cambodian/khmer-new-year
Celebrated in April for three to four days, the Cambodian New is a traditional respite before the rainy season and is Cambodia’s “most important festival and holiday.” This site, written by a leader within the American Khmer Community in Washington, highlights the New Year traditions and games involved with the Khmer population’s largest celebration.

Shogatsu – Japanese New Year (find it on ipl2)
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2064.html
This site, devoted to information about Japanese holidays and popular events, highlights the traditions and decorations of Shogatsu, celebrated around the same time as the traditional American New Year. It contains links to traditional foods, games, and decorations traditionally displayed during Shogatsu, complete with colorful and detailed photographs and descriptions.

Têt Nguyen Dan – Vietnamese New Year (find it on ipl2)
http://www.asian-nation.org/tet.shtml
In February, the Vietnamese community observes the Celebration of Rebirth, commonly known as Têt, described as “New Year’s Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all rolled into one.” The traditions, rich history, Vietnamese zodiac, and modern adaptations of the celebration are outlined and highlighted within this site. There is also an array of related links, articles, and resources listed as well as a link to send free Happy Têt e-cards!

EUROPE AND AUSTRALIA

The New Year’s Day Parade, London (find it on ipl2)
http://www.londonparade.co.uk/
At noon on January 1, “more than 10,000 performers, representing over a dozen countries world-wide, assemble in the heart of London bringing music, merriment and laughter to the waiting crowds.” The site features a history of the parade, photographs back to 1991, a list of current participants, and a map of the parade route.

NEW! The Mystery of Dinner for One: How an obscure British skit has become Germany’s most popular New Year’s tradition.
http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2005/12/the_mystery_of_dinner_for_one.html
Read about a German and Scandinavian tradition – a New Year’s Eve broadcast of the British comedy sketch Dinner for One. Although the comedy sketch is not set around the holiday season, the traditional broadcast has landed the sketch in the Guinness Book of World Records for most repeated TV show ever. If you are interested, the most popular 18 minute version with a German introduction can be found at Google Video.

NEW! Christmas and New Year in Ireland Long Ago
http://www.ballinagree.freeservers.com/chrisireland.html
The Irish celebrate New Year’s Eve,  known as Oíche Chinn Bliana (Year’s End Night) and Oíche na Coda Móire (The Night of the Great Feast), by lighting candles and placing them in the windows throughout their homes. Tradition also calls for a cake of bread which is bashed against the front door in order to banish the threat of hunger. The night is often associated with the dead, as absent members of the families are remembered in the family rosary.

NEW!  Dutch New Year Celebrations
http://www.nlplanet.com/almanac/dutch-new-year
The Dutch begin their New Year’s Eve celebration with a quiet evening at home with their families playing board games, watching television, and eating oliebol (Dutch doughnuts), which are washed down with coffee and champagne. The streets remain deserted, public transportation stops running, and bars and cafes remain closed, that is until the stroke of midnight when families take to the streets to watch the traditional fireworks show.

NEW! BBC Scotland – Hogmanay: It’s a tradition
http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/hogmanay/customs.shtml
Scotland’s New Year’s Eve tradition, Hogmanay, takes place on December 31st, although the celebration lasts for several days. One popular Hogmanay custom is that of the ‘first-footer,’ in which one’s luck is determined by the first person to visit their home after midnight. If the first-footer is a tall, dark, and handsome man, bringing a small gift, than the occupants will have good luck throughout the year. Read about other Hogmanay customs that vary by locality.

NEW! Sydney Australia’s NYE 2011
http://www.sydneynewyearseve.com/
Sydney celebrates New Year’s Eve with a big bang! At the stroke of midnight a 12-minute interactive Fireworks Display is launched from seven barges on the Sydney Harbour, the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the rooftops of seven city skyscrapers. The theme for ringing in 2012, which will bring more than 1.5 million people to the Harbour, is Time to Dream, which is captured through colors and a show-stopping bridge effect.

LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN

NEW! An Ecuadorian tradition, New Year’s Eve burning of the Año Viejo dummies
http://www.cuencahighlife.com/post/2010/12/28/Ecuadorian-tradition-the-New-Years-Eve-burning-of-the-dummy-clears-the-slate-for-2009.aspx
http://tinyurl.com/7y3g9az
Año Viejo, Old Year, is an Ecuadorian tradition where life-sized dummies are made only to be burned as a symbol of “out with the old and, we can assume, in with the new.” This web page discusses the origins of the tradition as well as its significance to its participants.

NEW! Junkanoo: Bahamian Festival
http://www.bahamasgateway.com/junkanoo.htm
Junkanoo is a colorful festival celebrated on the streets of Nassau in the early morning of December 26th and New Year’s Day. This Bahamian festival began as “temporary celebration of freedom of slaves” and has been kept alive by islanders. This site describes Junkanoo’s history and celebration.

NEW! 10 Mexican Traditions for the New Year
http://www.yucatan-holidays.com/guidebook/10-mexican-traditions-for-the-new-year/
In Mexico, Christmas traditions run from New Year’s Day through February. This web page discusses ten New Year’s Day Mexican customs concerning what to wear, eat, and cleaning rituals. It also gives an overview of Catholic traditions following New Year’s Day, El Dia de los Reyes, Three Kings Day, and El Dia de la Candelaria, Candlemas Day.

NEW! New Year in Argentina: Traditions and Customs
http://www.123newyear.com/newyear-traditions/argentina.html
New Year’s Day celebrations in Argentina are similar to much of the rest of the world with parties and fireworks. This website describes a typical New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day for Argentinean families, including traditions like swimming in pools, lakes, and rivers and attending church.

NEW! New Year’s Eve at Copacabana
http://www.copacabana.info/new-years-eve.html
The second largest event in Brazil, New Year’s Eve at Copacabana, mixes Brazilian and African culture. This web page describes the beach celebration, including boats sent into the sea, fireworks, and the use of color and lights as a grand city-wide festivity.

UNITED STATES AND CANADA

United States New Year (find it on ipl2)
http://www.timessquarenyc.org/nye/nye.html
This site provides information on the spectacular celebration of New Year’s Eve in Times Square, New York City, on December 31st. It includes facts on the construction and descent of the famous Waterford crystal ball, the history of past events, and the event fact sheets and schedules.  If you cannot make it to Times Square to post your wishes on the wishing wall, no worries, you can submit your wish to the virtual wishing wall online.

Popular New Year’s Resolutions (find it on ipl2)
http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/New_Years_Resolutions.shtml
This web site contains a list of 13 common New Year’s resolutions with links to related government web sites. Topics include losing weight, paying off debt, getting a better job, getting fit, quitting smoking, reducing stress, taking a trip, and volunteering to help others.

NEW! An Iroquois New Year’s Celebration
http://www.crookedlakereview.com/articles/34_66/35feb1991/35koch.html
The Iroquois New Year is a mid-winter ceremony which takes place around February 1st. The Iroquois thank the Creator for “the Earth’s bounty,” and according to anthropologist Anthony Wallace, the first day included “the public naming of babies followed by a celebratory eating of corn soup.”

NEW! What is Soyal
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-soyal.htm
Like many cultures, the Hopi celebrate the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. The Soyal ceremonies are designed to encourage the sun’s return. Many Hopi people also hold parties and exchange gifts to celebrate the New Year. Learn more about Soyal and the story of the sun’s struggle against darkness here!

NEW! Orthodox New Year in Canada
http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/canada/orthodox-new-year
Canadian Orthodox Christian New Year celebrations include social gatherings, and feature traditional activities and food from Russia and the Ukraine, where the Orthodox Church predominates. Many Orthodox congregations observe the New Year on January 1st of the Julian calendar, which falls around January 14th of the international-standard Gregorian calendar.

NEW! Traditional New Year Celebrations in Canada
http://www.123newyear.com/newyear-traditions/canada.html
Canadians follow customs which are intended to “bring good luck, peace, and prosperity to everyone.” The polar bear swim on New Year is one such tradition in which almost everyone participates. Canadians also have “a tradition of clapping and roaring” at midnight when the New Year arrives in the belief that it chases away the evils of the past year. Kissing is a traditional way of showing love and good wishes, so people in Canada kiss and wish each other Happy New Year at midnight.

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