LaunchPad 2011 (aka Space Science Camp)

Most of you know that I really love outer space. Almost all of my books have some kind of observational astronomy in it. My newest book, First Day on Earth, (coming out in November 2011) is a Sci Fi(ish) book. And my current work in progress, The Tin Star, is a two book series that takes place on a space station around an extra solar planet. So, you know, finding out that there was a workshop to teach writers about space science… well… I could not apply fast enough.

And so last week I went to LaunchPad 2011 (aka space science camp.) It was the most fun and brain breaking thing ever.

LaunchPad is the brainchild of astronomer and sci fi writer Dr. Mike Brotherton (Spider Star and Star Dragon) It’s been funded by NASA and the NSF and its goal is to teach writers (of sci fi) space science so that the science is correct in your fiction. (I know, right? AMAZING!)

It takes place at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. (by the way, we all know Laramie has a bad rap. But it’s a sweet cute place. Totally adorable. For example, i saw a pair of victorian boots that I am coveting and also the cowboy saloon and dancehall which we got to sneak into and look at its amazingness – including saddle seat bar stools and a buffalo that snorts smoke. I was sad the saloon was closed for summer.)

Cowboy Saloon and Dancehall. I know you are two-stepping in your mind right now.

We were there for one week. Every day we had a lecture on space science. For a space dork like me it was amazing. I learned so much.

My fave things were the lecture on Dust.

Learning about Stars. Learning about space medicine. Dark Matter. Spectrograph lab.

I even liked cosmology. (although it nearly broke me.)

We had two observing nights. I so desperately wanted to see M51 because there is a supernova in it right now. But we couldn’t see it from where we were. A stupid streetlamp was in the way and the weather was not cooperating. But we saw clusters (open and globular) Saturn. M82 galaxy. The Ring Nebula. I admit, many of these things looked like smudges. But they were very. cool. smudges.

We also went to WIRO (Wyoming InfraRed Observatory)

It was way up high on Mount Jen… Gorgeous. There was a lightning storm that surrounded us below. We could see bolts in the sky.

Lovely grad students Rana and Jessie let the few of us stay later help to open the telescope door and engage the telescope.

Dani opening the observatory doors.

Me in front of WIRO (pic by Liz)

The late night WIRO crew – Chris Rowe, Dani Wolff, Me!, Liz Gorinsky, Shelly Li (Todd Van der Mark took the pic)

I enjoyed the fine company of all of my fellow classmates. And I know that my reading list got huge. I think you should probably go read them all, too. Liz Gorinksy, Greg Fishbone, Mike Albo, KC Ball, Shelly Li, Todd Vandermark, Christopher Rowe, Stan Schmidt, Jennifer Willis, Danielle Wolff, Henry Strattman, Deborah J Ross , Shariann Lewitt, An Owomoyela , Pembroke Sinclair, Eric James Stone

And if you write Sci Fi, or long to, you should totally apply to LaunchPad next year. (And if you are science organization, (hint hint NASA and NSF) you should continue to support them.)

2 Comments»

  Lupe Fernandez wrote @

“Launch Pad is a free, NASA-funded workshop for established writers…”

Bummer. The only thing I’ve established are rejection notices.

  Deborah J. Ross wrote @

It was lovely to hang out with you (although, come to think of it, the image that presents itself is all of us swinging upside down like bats in the observatory!)


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