Cape Town – You need to experience it

I think I need to change the theme of this blog from astronomy and academics to astronomy, academics and travel. I have to admit, somewhere in the past couple months I went from traveling a lot to traveling too much. I have acquired opinions about the wheels on luggage and the distribution of electrical outlets in different hotel rooms. I have visited cities spread across 4 continents and stumbled through eight times zones to the east and twelve timezones to the west. Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve gone with friends and we’ve worked to communicate astronomy to the world while drinking local beers and devouring local foods. IYA brought me countless experiences, a now full passport, 1000s of photos, and 20 pounds. Other than the 20 pounds (And sadly I...

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Emerging Fields: Astronomy Communications and Education

Emerging Fields: Astronomy Communications and Education

When I started graduate school, I was given the impression that astronomy consisted of two broad formats (observational and theoretical) and addressed a set of specific subtopics (planets, stars, intersteller media, galaxies/cosmology). In this paradigm, people who studied how people learn astronomy were off to the side somewhere. In broad brush strokes, this is a fairly fair image. While there is a rich and dynamic group of people working to both teach astronomy and communicate astronomy to the public, these people are generally side-lined, devalued, or just not seen as professional astronomers. Today, in South Africa, the “Communicating Astronomy to the Public” meeting is seeking to change this view by bringing a new level of professionalism to our...

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Lost in the vastness of space

Lost in the vastness of space

Tonight I co-gave the opening address at the Templeton Foundation supported Q3 conference on Cosmology and Theology. It was perhaps the most nerve wracking talk I’ve ever given. While I am a Christian, I must admit to being terrified of conservative Christians. I’ve just realized I can’t count the number of churches who have made me feel rejected because I spend my days studying our universe. At the same time, I’ve lost count of the number of scientists and skeptics who’ve claimed I can’t possibly be a real scientist or a real skeptic if I believe in God. Over the years, I’ve learned how to speak safely around scientists, and I’ve learned when to speak unsafely, but the Christians – they’ve continued...

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LPSC: NASA Night

Live blogging will begin here at 5:30pm 5:10pm A presentation will be by Dr Laurie Leshin, Deputy Associate administrator, Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. Title : “New Oppurtunities in the President’s FY2011 Budget” 5:12pm Speaker is not dressed in back. While there are people downstairs pre-lecture drinking in the bar, I don’t think it will be too awful. I fear for man (or at least manned space exploration) but I trust in science (or at least Obama’s support of science and science ed) 5:14pm This liveblog is made possible by my Verizon 3G cell card and the power strip under the mixing board (and the help of the friendly person manning the mixing board). 5:19pm They are now micing people up and the room is filling. 5:24pm...

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