Rendering of Giant Magellan Telescope

Eagle Scout Astronomer gets a glimpse at rare mirror-firing for the Giant Magellan Telescope

Stellar accomplishments, like earning the Eagle Scout award, reap stellar rewards. Eagle Scout Tristan Bullard can attest to this, as he watched astronomers take one step closer to completing the Giant Magellan Telescope at Saturday’s rare mirror-firing event.

During a Mirror Lab tour, visitors looked on as the massive mirror is "fired" in a spun-cast furnace (shown at back of photo).

During a Mirror Lab tour, visitors watch as the massive mirror is “fired” in a spun-cast furnace (shown at back of photo). Courtesy of NESA.

Alongside internationally known scientists and astronomers, Tristan — who was named Eagle Scout Astronomer earlier this year— looked on as liquid glass spun in a gigantic furnace reaching 1170 degrees Celsius at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory Mirror Lab in Tucson.

The new, 20-ton mirror is the third of seven mirrors needed to construct the Giant Magellan Telescope, a project that will allow astronomers to look into the cosmos with clarity and precision 10 times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope. The GMT mirror-firing is considered to be the most challenging optics ever undertaken with each mirror measuring 27 feet in diameter.

Tristan says the mirror firing was a once-in-a-lifetime event. And one that he experienced thanks to the National Eagle Scout Association.

Read more about how Tristan got the chance to attend the mirror-firing after the jump. Continue reading

Photo by Lewis Jacobs/NBC

WATCH: How did our favorite Eagle Scout singer do on ‘The Voice’?

Pip didn’t just sing last night.

He “absolutely blew the roof off the place,” said host Carson Daly.

Phillip Arnold, known on the show as Pip, gave a powerful rendition of The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” during last night’s episode. Continue reading

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The 20 most (and least) earned merit badges of 2011

What were the hottest merit badges last year?

I’ve got the answer. Maybe.

So first, a caveat: The friendly folks at the Supply Division tell me there’s no way to determine exact numbers of merit badges earned. That info is tracked by troops — not the National Council.

That said, by examining sales figures, we can get some idea which badges sold more than others in 2011. I’m thinking that if a Scouter buys a merit badge emblem in a Scout Shop or at ScoutStuff.org, chances are good that a Scout recently earned the badge.

After examining the 2011 sales list, here’s what I’ve come up with for the 20 top-selling merit badges of 2011:

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Reaching a goal, inspiring Scouts to do the same

How far would you go to inspire your Scouts?

One assistant Scoutmaster had a specific distance in mind: 140.6 miles.

That’s the distance of an Ironman triathlon — 2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles biking, and 26.2 miles running. All that effort, says Mark Williams of Troop 16 in Parker, Colo., shows his Scouts what training and perseverance can accomplish.

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