Astronomy on Tap Is On!
Tune in you star trekkers, gazers, and galaxy aficionados, Las Cumbres Observatory’s (LCO) Astronomy on Tap is back on the planet every month in a new location: the outside patio at M Special Taproom on State Street. The new venue allows for the Astro on Tap monthlies to be an all-ages event, while still be true to its love of science x beer.
Its first re-launch was held on star date 76131.5, aka Wednesday, August 31 from 7 to 9:30 pm, led by astro-scientist Andy Howell and his LCO Starfleet team Joey Chatelain, Emily Manne-Nicholas, Megan Newsome,and Jennifer Smith. Using the Star Trek shirt motif, the LCO team sported star pins that glowed in the dark and changed colors. Sandy Seale, LCO’s director of development, shared that it took about a month of hard work behind the scenes to get the venue’s four audio-visual monitors around the patio bar and the wall projection system up to LCO presentation standards.
The monthly events are free, and donations are accepted via LCO merch, such as posters and t-shirts. Guests can also purchase raffle tickets and win a prized LCO beer glass. After each presentation, guests can text in a question via a QR code provided on the monitors. Note to self, be #techsavvy and bring your smart phone.
Seen at the event were LCO’s newly appointed Director Dr. Lisa Storrie-Lombardi, with her husband, astrobiologist Michael Storrie-Lombardi, and their two dogs both hailing from Starfleet’s elite research centers like the Jet Propulsion Lab and NASA, as well as black hole scientist Joseph Farah (see Montecito Journal on June 2, 2022, Issue 22).
Howell is known for his expertise of astrophysics, as a consultant to sci-fi movies, and his extra-dry sense of humor supported by anecdotal commentary via scrupulously found news clips online, no media outlet spared. His highlight joke of the evening came at the close while discussing the asteroid that landed in the ocean just off the coast of Iceland and discovered two hours prior by astronomers. The event was published widely with the most interesting headline by the U.K.’s Daily Mail: “Asteroid half the size of a giraffe strikes Earth off the coast of Iceland” – yes, Young Jedi, you read that right! The remarks from the attendees went on for a few, along with Howell’s slide show of tweets on the topic, concluding with a faux report on April Fool’s Day from Physics Daily discussing the realm of meter measurements to animals.
Speaking of asteroids hitting the Earth, watch for the upcoming DART(Double Asteroid Redirection Test)mission by NASA on September 26, 2022 at 4:14 pm PST that will purposely propel a spacecraft into the moon of the double asteroid Didymos to change its velocity and orbit – useful? You decide. NASA claims it is a test to determine how to divert asteroids that might be on a collision course with Earth. However, Chatelain could not resist to point out the logo of NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office and its motto, “Hic Servare Diem” translated as “Here to Save the Day”!
Other key astro news presented included: the crash and burn of the Arecibo Observatory due to poor maintenance December 2020; the launch of the James Webb telescope with comparison images between it and the Hubble Telescope; NASA’s Artemis series of missions to the moon with a “no comment” about Elon Musk’s Space X working with NASA; the theorized first electron capture of a supernova led by UCSB grad student Daichi Hiramatsu working with the LCO and a worldwide research team; the increase in diversity of space mission crews to include Black people, the LBGT communities, women, and Native Americans like Nicole Mann scheduled for her mission on September 29 this year; and more.
Also re-launched is the LCO’s Science Talk Series, with the next one on September 13 at 7 pm at the New Vic Theatre. Dr. Tim Lister is presenting the DART Mission scheduled September 26 by NASA.
For more public space events and astro news, log onto the LCO website and subscribe! Meanwhile, may the force be with you!