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News & Events, Science

Comet PanSTARRS: Coming Soon to a Sky Near You!

Attention all UST sky-watchers:  If you haven’t heard of it yet, a new comet will soon be making its debut in the Northern hemisphere!

Called Comet PanSTARRS, it was discovered back in June 2011 by the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) based at the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy.

Since its discovery, the comet has been slowly heading toward the inner solar system on its way to reaching its closest point to the sun, known as perihelion, which will occur on March 10.

In early February,  people in Australia started taunting us with their great pictures as it was seen for the first time with a naked eye from the Southern Hemisphere.  It has continued on its way north, though, and on March 12, comet PanSTARRS will pass into Northern Hemisphere skies.

The best times to look will be on the evenings of March 12th and 13th.  On those evenings you can use the crescent Moon as a guide to help you find PanSTARRS. On the 12th the comet will be to the Moon’s upper left. On the 13th, the comet will be to the Moon’s lower right.  If the skies are clear, you should be able to see it with a naked eye somewhat close to the horizon, although binoculars will definitely help to see the tail more clearly.

Busy those nights? No worries: if you miss it, you will only have 110,000 years to wait for its next appearance!

(Or you can wait a few months to see another comet; Comet ISON, predicted to be even brighter, is hot on its heels in November. We’ll be sure to keep you posted when it comes near!)

Want to read more?  Check out some great coverage in our library databases and at Sky and

Libraries, News & Events, O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library, Political Science, Recently Read, Uncategorized

Where do you get your news?

It seems like, increasingly, we live in bubbles populated by people who agree with us.  Our friends post their opinions on our Facebook pages and, if we’ve picked our friends carefully, it turns out we like everything they have to say.  Most Americans say that they want to get their news from a source that has no political bias, though our sources for news and information tend to be from those who we’ve grown to trust, and the political slant of any publication is a matter of opinion.  My “objective” source might be your “big liberal media.”  Curious to know where OSF library users get their political information, we used our “white board conversation” method,  and asked OSF Library users about their news diet last week. Our question was “Where do you get your political news?” and about 75 library users posted their answers on Post-it notes on the board. Obviously this is not a scientific survey, but interesting, nonetheless. (For more scientific data on this question, you should look at the Pew Research Center’s recent report on the news landscape.  In fact, our results were very similar to what Pew found, especially for the young demographic of our library.)

Popular answers included:

– Fox News (13 mentions, though two people specifically said “Not Fox”)
– Daily Show/Colbert Report/SNL: 10
– Reddit: 6
– MSNBC or Today Show: 3
– CNN: 3
– Huffington Post: 3
– Wall Street Journal: 3

Other sources mentioned: New York Times, Washington Post, Drudge Report, GoogleNews, MinnPost, Facebook and Twitter.

Let us know where you get your news!



News & Events

Student Voting Registration 101

If you haven’t heard yet – guess what?  Today is National Voter Registration Day!

We librarians have compiled some useful information about the 2012 election on our  Vote 2012 guide – please feel free to check it out!  In the meantime, here are some highlights:

Are you registered yet?  Click here to register! 

For college students, it’s oftentimes confusing to determine where and how to register to vote.  But don’t let that stop you!  There are a lot of instructions out there, but it all boils down to this: as a student, you have a constitutional right to register and vote in the place you truly consider to be “home” — whether that’s your parents’ house, your apartment, or your dorm room.

Before you make the important decision about where to vote, make sure you know the rules (and sometimes consequences) of registering to vote in that state.  Here are the rules and regulations for student voting in Minnesota.  You can find information about other states here, or stop by the library TODAY to get registered!

10:00 AM – 2:00 PM & 6:00 – 8:00 PM

@ the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library


Now that you’re registered…

Have you started thinking about whom you’d like to vote for?  In Presidential election years, sometimes that can get overwhelming, too, with so many candidates, platforms, and simply the larger number of races going on than in other years.

Luckily for us, there are some great resources out there to help people focus more on the issues than whatever commercial is currently airing. One resource that I particularly like is Minnesota Public Radio’s Select A Candidate feature.

 As MPR describes it,

“By answering a series of questions about major issues, you can quickly learn which candidates are most closely aligned with your views. You’ll be able to learn more about each candidate and find out how your results compare with those of others who take the survey.”

Remember to check out our Vote 2012 guide for more information!


FAQs about Select A Candidate  (from MPR’s website):

Q: Does Select A Candidate tell me who to vote for?

A: Absolutely not. Its main purpose is to introduce you to the candidates who are running and their positions on the issues.

Q: How did you come up with these questions?

A: The questions mirror the campaign. There might be issues we are interested in that haven’t come up in the campaign so far, and those aren’t listed here. Should they come up — and we have a mechanism for your interests to be part of the campaign — they will be added to Select A Candidate. The choices from each question mirror positions that candidates have stated. If no answer is close to your position, do not answer the question, for there is no candidate with that position.

Q: How does the scoring work?

A: Each candidate gets 1 point for each question that matches your answer. If you indicate that an issue is very important to you, the candidate gets 3 points. If you indicate that the issue is of no importance to you, the candidate gets 0 points. In this way, the “match” is weighted to reflect those issues on which you decide elections.