Tag Archives: Tony Gondola

Busy week ahead on the astro calendar

There’s something for everyone on this week’s astro calendar, with a new scale model solar system opening, two great lectures, a theater/science mashup, and a variety of club events on the docket.

A new scale model of the solar system that you can explore through geocaching opens today, May 1, on Bainbridge Island. Check out our article or podcast from last week to learn more.

Proxima b

You’ve probably heard by now of the discovery of a planet orbiting our nearest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centauri. (If not, check out our article featuring UW professor Rory Barnes discussing the possibility of the habitability of Proxima b.) The UW Astrobiology Program and the NASA Astrobiology Institute will host a panel discussion about the planet at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 3 in room 120 of Kane Hall on the university’s campus in Seattle.

The panelists include Guillem Anglada-Escude, lead discoverer of the planet and University of London lecturer; Victoria Meadows, University of Washington astrobiology professor and primary investigator for the Virtual Planetary Laboratory; Barnes; and Olivier Guyon, University of Arizona professor and project scientist for the Subaru Telescope.

It’s free but registration is required; as of this writing there were still some tickets available.

Searching for Martians

Bob Abel talkMars may have been habitable before Earth was, and might be still. So where are the Martians? Olympic College professor Bob Abel will give a talk about the history of Mars and the prospects for past, present, and future life there at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 4 in room 117 of the Engineering Building on the Olympic College campus in Bremerton. It’s free.

Abel gave a talk on the same topic last week at Astronomy on Tap Seattle. Our recap of that event is coming soon.

Astronomy Day at MOF

The Museum of Flight celebrates Space Day during its Free First Thursday at 5 p.m. May 4. Local astronomy clubs will be on hand with information about their activities and they’ll have telescopes for observing if the weather cooperates. A special presentation at 6 p.m. will take a look at the technical challenges of getting Apollo to the Moon, and what that means for present-day space efforts. Tony Gondola, a solar system ambassador and coordinator of the museum’s Challenger Learning Center will be the speaker.

The event runs through 9 p.m.

Mashing up science and theater

Centrifuge2Infinity Box Theatre Project will present Centrifuge 2 at 8 p.m. this Friday and Saturday, May 5 and 6, at Stage One Theater on the North Seattle College campus. Centrifuge pairs science writers and playwrights to craft brand-new one-act plays featuring current science. Seattle Astronomy’s Greg Scheiderer participated in the event last year and will be one of the science writers again this time around. Check out our article and podcast from last year to learn more about Centrifuge and Infinity Box.

Open house at TJO

The Theodor Jacobsen Observatory at the University of Washington will hold one of its bimonthly open houses at 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 3. The topic for the evening’s talk had not been published as of this writing. Volunteers from the Seattle Astronomical Society will be on hand to offer tours of the observatory and, weather allowing, a look through its vintage telescope.

Club events

The Tacoma Astronomical Society will hold its monthly meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 2 in room 175 of Thompson Hall on the University of Puget Sound campus in Tacoma. The topic will be club participation in viewing the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse.

The club will also offer one of its free public nights at 9 p.m. Saturday, May 6 at the Fort Steilacoom campus of Pierce College. The indoor session will be a presentation about constellations. They’ll break out the telescopes for observing if the sky is clear.

The Spokane Astronomical Society plans its monthly meeting for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 5 at the planetarium at Spokane Falls Community College. Club member Nick Monkman will talk about the ABCs of finding objects in the night sky.

The Seattle Astronomical Society plans its monthly free public star parties for 9 p.m. Saturday, May 6 at two locations: Green Lake in Seattle and Paramount Park in Shoreline. Bad weather causes cancellations, so watch the website for updates.

You can always scout out future events on our calendar page.

SAS banquet, AoT this week

One of the more anticipated astronomy events of the year will happen this week, and Astronomy on Tap Seattle will have a Friday gathering in Ballard.

SAS banquet

Kelly Beatty


The Seattle Astronomical Society‘s annual banquet will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday, January 28 at the Swedish Club on Dexter Avenue North in Seattle. In keeping with the society’s great track record of attracting excellent speakers each January, Kelly Beatty, a senior editor of Sky & Telescope magazine, will give the keynote talk about Pluto, from its discovery through the New Horizons mission. In addition to his post with the magazine, Beatty serves on the board of the International Dark-Sky Association and is a passionate advocate against light pollution.

Reservations for the banquet are available online and must be made by this Wednesday, January 25. The price is $45 for society members, $60 for non-members. The discount is a good reason to join today!

Astronomy on Tap

AOT Jan 2017Astronomy on Tap Seattle will turn the floor over to Blue Origin for its gathering at 7 p.m. Friday, January 27 at Peddler Brewing Company in Ballard.

Former NASA astronaut Nicholas Patrick, now the Human Integration Architect at Blue Origin, will talk about “The New Shepard Astronaut Experience” on the company’s crewed spaceflight vehicles; and Blue Origin staffers Sarah Knights and Dan Kuchan will give a talk titled, “Blue Origin: Earth, in All its Beauty, is Just Our Starting Place.”

It’s free, but do remember to buy some beer, as astronomy and a good brew go together! Winners of the evening’s trivia contests will be in line for some special Blue Origin prizes. A ride on a spacecraft, perhaps?

Astronaut remembrance

Apollo 1 crew

L-R: Astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee were killed in a cabin fire during a launchpad test of Apollo 1 on Jan. 27, 1967. Photo: NASA.

It’s a sad time of year in space exploration as astronauts of Apollo 1 and the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia perished during accidents in late January and early February. From January 27 through February 5 the Museum of Flight will host an exhibit and video paying tribute to the astronauts who were lost in the quest to explore outer space.

NASA JPL Solar System Ambassadors Ron Hobbs and Tony Gondola will give a special presentation about the astronauts at 2 p.m. Saturday, January 28 at the museum.

Futures file

You can scout out future astronomy events on our calendar. We’ve recently added information about The Galileo Dialogues coming up February 15 from Infinity Box Theatre Project. The page also features a full schedule of planetarium and stage science shows at Pacific Science Center.

Up in the sky

Saturn and Mercury play tag with the Moon as it wanes toward new this week. This Week’s Sky at a Glance from Sky & Telescope magazine and The Sky This Week from Astronomy offer more observing highlights for the week.

A look at a nearby exoplanet tops the week’s calendar

We’re back from a couple of weeks of travel and find a busy calendar of events for the week ahead.


UW Prof. Rory Barnes at an Astronomy on Tap event in January. Photo: Greg Scheiderer.

If you missed last week’s Astronomy on Tap Seattle event—as we did because we were out of town—then you missed getting some first-hand information from Rory Barnes, Professor of Astronomy and Astrobiology at the University of Washington, about the newly discovered exoplanet in orbit around our nearest stellar neighbor. Fear not: Barnes will give a lecture titled, “Opportunities and Obstacles for Life on Proxima Centauri B” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 31 at the PACCAR IMAX® Theater at the Pacific Science Center. Barnes will discuss how this Earth-sized planet was discovered, and how we’ll go about figuring out whether it’s habitable and inhabited. Tickets to the talk are $5 and are available online. It’s free for PacSci members.

Learn about telescopes

MOFTake a look through telescopes at the Free First Thursday event at the Museum of Flight from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. September 1. The evening will include family activities and exhibits about telescopes, and NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador Tony Gondola will give a presentation titled “The History of Telescopes and How They Work” at 7 p.m. in the museum’s Fluke Challenger Learning Center.

While you’re out at the Museum of Flight check out the special exhibit Above and Beyond, which celebrates both the history and future of flight through a variety of immersive simulations, interactive design challenges, impactful stories of innovation, and more. Your opportunities are running out; the exhibit closes September 10.

Star Parties

As we turn the calendar to September star party season starts to wind down. There are several on the docket for this week.

Seattle Astronomical SocietyThe Seattle Astronomical Society will hold a star party at the super-dark Brooks Memorial State Park near Goldendale from September 1-5. Closer to home, the club will hold a star party beginning at 9 p.m. Saturday, September 3 at the Rattlesnake Mountain Trailhead. Note that both of these events are for SAS members only; one of many good reasons to join now!

Olympic Astronomical Society will hold one of its Hurricane Ridge Star Parties Saturday, September 3. The event is free save for admission to Olympic National Park.

Oregon ObservatoryThe Brothers Star Party, a fundraiser for the Oregon Observatory at Sunriver, will be held August 31-September 5 near the town of Brothers, east of Bend, Oregon. Formerly held at Mount Bachelor, this star party has been at the new site near Brothers for several years, and the location gets high marks for dark skies. Find registration info, directions, and more details on the BSP Facebook page or website. Onsite registration is available.

Up in the sky

There’s a new Moon on Thursday, which means observing will be at its best, and Neptune reaches opposition on Friday; see if you can spot the most distant confirmed planet. The Sky This Week from Astronomy magazine and This Week’s Sky at a Glance from Sky & Telescope have more observing highlights for the week.

Pluto in retrospect, and club events this week

It has been just over a year since the New Horizons flyby of Pluto, and there are a couple of opportunities this week to look back at the mission and what we’ve learned so far about the former ninth planet.

Rose City AstronomersJohn Spencer of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado will give a talk about New Horizons at the monthly meeting of the Rose City Astronomers in Portland. Spencer, a member of the New Horizons science team, studies the moons and other small bodies of the outer solar system using ground-based telescopes, the Hubble Space Telescope, and close-up spacecraft observations. He was a science team member on the Galileo Jupiter orbiter and continues to work on the science team of the Cassini Saturn orbiter. The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 18 at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

moflogoNASA JPL Solar System Ambassador and Museum of Flight Educator Tony Gondola will give a talk about New Horizons at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 23 in the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery at the museum. Gondola will talk about new Plutopian perspectives and the planetoid’s dynamic system of moons. He’ll also look at what’s on the horizon as the spacecraft heads out into the Kuiper Belt and the extreme reaches of the solar system.

Science Café

Pacific Science CenterTake a look at the future of space exploration at a Pacific Science Center Science Café at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 19 at Wilde Rover Irish Pub in Kirkland. Alan Boyle, aerospace and science editor at Geekwire, will discuss “The Next Frontiers for Space Exploration” given the rapidly advancing private space industry, its implications for exploration, and the diplomatic and economic questions it raises.

Wednesday at PacSci’s Boeing IMAX® Theater Trekkers can enjoy a Star Trek movie marathon that includes the latest film in the franchise. The marathon begins with Star Trek (2D) at 4:30 p.m. July 20, followed by Star Trek Into Darkness (3D) at 7 p.m. and the premiere of Star Trek Beyond: An IMAX 3D Experience at 10 p.m. Tickets are $40, with discounts for members, seniors, youth, and children.

Wednesday at UW

Seattle Astronomical SocietyThe Seattle Astronomical Society will hold its monthly meeting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 20 in room A102 of the Physics/Astronomy building on the University of Washington campus in Seattle. The program will be a show-and-tell by SAS members and includes recent astrophotography efforts as well as a talk from Seattle Astronomy about some of our recent activities.

Theodor Jacobsen ObservatoryLater that evening at 9 p.m. the Theodor Jacobsen Observatory will hold one of its twice-monthly open houses. The astronomy talks for the evening are completely filled, but you may still be able to get a tour of the observatory dome and a look through the vintage telescope operated by Seattle Astronomical Society volunteers. Visit the observatory website to make reservations for future events, which happen on the first and third Wednesday of the month through September.

Up in the sky

Jupiter is getting lower and lower in the west these days as dusk falls, but Mars and Saturn are still well-placed for evening observing. The Sky This Week from Astronomy magazine and This Week’s Sky at a Glance from Sky & Telescope have other observing highlights for the week.

SAS banquet Saturday, Leavitt play opens this week

An appearance by “Mr. Eclipse” and the opening of a play about noted astronomer Henrietta Leavitt highlight the events on this week’s Seattle Astronomy calendar.

SAS banquet

EspenakThe Seattle Astronomical Society will hold its annual banquet on Saturday, Jan. 30 at the Swedish Club on Dexter Avenue in Seattle. The keynote speaker for the event will be Fred Espenak, known as “Mr. Eclipse” for his long career tracking, viewing, and writing histories of eclipses. Espenak will speak about preparing to view the Great American Solar Eclipse, the total solar eclipse coming up in August 2017 that will be the first visible from the lower-48 since 1979.

Tickets for the banquet are sold out. Check our preview of the event from earlier this month.

Silent Sky opens at Taproot

FB_Silent_Sky_banner_lowline_700x259Silent Sky, the true story of the work of American astronomer Henrietta Leavitt, will have its Northwest premiere when it opens Wednesday at Taproot Theatre in Greenwood.

The play, written by Lauren Gunderson and directed by Karen Lund, will run through Feb. 27. Leavitt discovered the relationship between the luminosity and the period of Cepheid variable stars. Her work at Harvard College Observatory received little attention during her lifetime, which spanned 1868–1921, but her discovery was the key to our ability to accurately determine the distances to faraway galaxies.

Remembering fallen astronauts

It’s hard to believe that Thursday marks the 30th anniversary of the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger that killed seven astronauts. Oddly enough, all three U.S. space disasters happened about this time of year. This Apollo I fire killed three astronauts on Jan. 27, 1967, and the shuttle Columbia was destroyed on re-entry on Feb. 1, 2003. The Museum of Flight pays tribute to the fallen fliers with its annual astronaut remembrance weekend this Saturday, Jan. 30.

The museum plans displays and video looking back at the events. NASA JPL solar system ambassador Ron Hobbs and Museum of Flight Challenger Learning Center coordinator Tony Gondola will give a presentation at 2 p.m. Saturday remembering the astronauts who paid the ultimate price in the line of duty.

Ready, Jet, Go!

Ready, Jet, Go!The Pierce College Science Dome and KBTC public television team up Sunday, Jan. 31 for a special event to launch the new PBS KIDS astronomy show Ready, Jet, Go! The event runs from 10 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. and includes hands-on science activities and screenings of the program at 10 a.m. and noon in the planetarium.

TAS public night

taslogoThe Tacoma Astronomical Society will hold one of its public nights at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30 at the Fort Steilacoom campus of Pierce College. The planned program will be about Apollo missions to the Moon. Club members will be on hand with telescopes for observing, weather permitting.

Up in the sky

The Moon passes near the star Regulus in the constellation Leo on Monday, Jan. 25 and flirts with Jupiter on Wednesday evening. The Sky This Week from Astronomy magazine and This Week’s Sky at a Glance from Sky & Telescope have other observing highlights for the week.