James Webb Space Telescope at SXSWi

From 8-11 March, 2013 I was down in Austin, TX with a large collaboration focused on providing outreach for the James Webb Space Telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute from Baltimore, Maryland gathered with Microsoft Research, Northrop Grumman, Ball Aerospace, NASA, University of Texas and CosmoQuest in order to provide public outreach at South by Southwest Interactive for the upcoming successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. To solidify its magnitude, a full-scale model of JWST was shipped and assembled between the Long Center for Performing Arts and the Palmer Center in Austin, right off of Riverside. The model reached 4 stories into the sky, covering an area the size of a tennis court, dwarfing anything around it, as you can see to the left. I experienced so many firsts, least of which being my first time attending South by Southwest. It was my first time in Texas, let alone Austin, and it’s an absolutely gorgeous and fun city to visit. Though I didn’t have much time to explore, working 12+ days for SXSW, we still were able to appreciate many local eateries, including Kerbey Lane Cafe. This was also the first time I physically met my Virtual Star Party Co-Host (and general e-partner-in-crime), Fraser Cain. It was quite amazing how though we’d never met in person, our working together for over a year using the Google+ Hangout platform had made it so we really knew one another. It allowed us to understand each other’s cues and have some fantastic opportunities for outreach, not to mention some extremely successful Hangouts On Air broadcasts while at SXSWi. It was International Women’s...

International Observe The Moon Night

September 22 is International Observe the Moon Night.   Here is part one of our InOMN hangouts starting in Australia/New Zealand featuring Paul Stewart as the astronomer bringing us the view of the moon, with Dr. Pamela Gay and I discussing the science!     Part 2 With Dr. Nicole Gugliucci on site at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Ahmet Kale from Turkey, Kristian Jerslev and Jens Riggelsen from Denmark, and David Riley from the United Kingdom Part 3 The final observation session took us to the North American continent with astronomers from across the United States as well as Fraser Cain hosting from Canada. It’s absolutely amazing to be able to work with such phenomenal people from across the world! Our local outreach session ended up being cancelled due to heavy “partial clouds” throughout the evening. Dr. Denise Kaisler and I, along with some volunteers stuck around on campus to let our visitors know the bad news. When the Moon did peek through a hole in the clouds, I set up my Celestron 15x70mm binoculars to give the attendees a glimpse before the Moon went away again. A very big “Thank you!” goes out to all of the astronomers from across the globe who volunteered their time, energy and equipment for International Observe the Moon Night! This could not have happened without you! Also, Dr. Nicole Gugliucciwas absolutely awesome for broadcasting from local outreach locations and co-hosting our final session, even though she’s on vacation. Thank you Nicole! Fraser Cain, creator and publisher of UniverseToday hopped into our final session to help host, even though he had other things that needed...