Astro Biz: Sean Thackrey “Orion” red wine

Thackrey OrionMany businesses, products, and places have names rooted in space and astronomy. We’re featuring one every Tuesday on Seattle Astronomy.

This week’s Astro Biz is “Orion” red wine made by Sean Thackrey of California. Orion is a red blend that we spotted on the shelves on a recent visit to West Seattle Wine Cellars. Thackrey makes a number of Astro Biz wines; he’s named others after Sirius, Andromeda, Lyra, and the Pleiades as well.

It seems that adult beverages and establishments in which they are consumed just go together. There are 26 of them on the Astro Biz list as of this addition.

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Calendar: SAS banquet and Astronomy on Tap Seattle this week

The annual Seattle Astronomical Society banquet and Astronomy on Tap Seattle are the highlight events for the coming week. The Museum of Flight kicks off Astronaut Remembrance Week, and regional planetarium shows cap the calendar.

SAS Banquet

Robert Reeves

Robert Reeves

The Seattle Astronomical Society banquet always draws an excellent guest speaker, and this year is no exception: renowned photographer Robert Reeves will keynote the annual banquet, and talk in particular about observing and imaging the Moon. The banquet gets under way at 4 p.m. Sunday, January 28 at the Swedish Club on Dexter Avenue North in Seattle. Reservations are $65 for the general public, $55 for SAS members. Don’t wait; there were only 18 spots left as of this writing. Reservations are available online.

Reeves will do a special master class on lunar photography for the SAS Astrophotography Special Interest Group. The class is open to the public and will be held at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, January 27 in the Red Barn Classroom at the Museum of Flight.

Astronomy on Tap Seattle

AOT Seattle January 2018The topic will be exploring alien moons when Astronomy on Tap Seattle holds its first event of the new year at 7 p.m. Wednesday, January 24 in the beer garden at Peddler Brewing Company in Ballard. Second-year UW graduate student in astronomy and astrobiology Tyler Gordon will speak about his research on the search for exoplanetary satellites using current and future telescopes. UW Ph.D. student in oceanography Max Showalter will discuss looking for life when the trail goes cold, an update on his work using movement as a sign of life in icy places.

Showalter did a talk at Town Hall Seattle almost two years ago. Check our recap of that talk and learn how SHAMU is helping hunt for ET.

Planetarium shows

The Washington State University Planetarium in Pullman has a new show this week titled, “Millions of Miles to Mars.” The show explores the whats, hows, and whens of Mars visits. Showtimes are 7 p.m. Friday, Jan 26, and 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan 28. Tickets at the door are $5 cash or check; they don’t accept credit cards. Kids under six get in free.

The Willard Smith Planetarium at the Pacific Science Center has a variety of shows for all ages every day. Check their website for the complete calendar.

Astronaut remembrance

America’s three great spacefaring tragedies all occurred at this time of year. To honor the sacrifices of the fallen astronauts, the Museum of Flight holds an annual astronaut remembrance week. The event runs from Friday, January 26 through Sunday, February 4 and features displays and exhibits about the fallen astronauts and their accomplishments. Solar System Ambassador Ron Hobbs will give a presentation about the tragic missions, and about the risks and successes of space travel, at 2 p.m. Saturday, January 27. It’s free with museum admission.

Future file

A total eclipse of the Moon will be visible in the early morning hours of Wednesday, January 31. The event begins just after 3 a.m. PDT, the partial eclipse starts around 3:45, and it will be total from just before 5 a.m. until a little after 6:00. All you really need to do is go outside and look up, but if you want to watch with others, the Seattle Astronomical Society plans a group viewing event at Solstice Park in West Seattle.

You can always scout out future events on our calendar.

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Astro Biz: Elliott Bay Brewery Luna Weizen

Luna WeizenMany businesses, products, and places have names rooted in space and astronomy. We’re featuring one every Tuesday on Seattle Astronomy.

This week’s Astro Biz is Luna Weizen from Elliott Bay Brewing Company in West Seattle. Luna Weizen is brewed with 40 percent wheat malt, which imparts a distinct citrus flavor and aroma. The brewery says its version is more accurately a “wheaten ale,” a beer in which wheat is used to lend a distinct flavor, but at a much lower percentage of the total grain.

We had a couple on the way home from a recent astronomy event; there’s often time for a brew while waiting for the next bus!

Elliott Bay also has pubs in Burien and Lake City.

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Astro Biz: Five Star Cellars sangiovese

Five Star CellarsMany businesses, products, and places have names rooted in space and astronomy. We’re featuring one every Tuesday on Seattle Astronomy.

This week’s Astro Biz is Five Star Cellars in the Walla Walla Valley. We stumbled across their sangiovese recently at West Seattle Wine Cellars. Five Star also produces a wine called “Supernova” and another named “Quinque Astrum,” both of which would qualify as double Astro Bizzes.

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Calendar: Meet with Ladies Who Launch this week

Ladies who launch gather this week at the Museum of Flight, and there’s a lot of local club activity on the calendar.

Ladies who Launch

Ladies who launchElsbeth Magilton, executive director of the Space, Cyber, and Telecommunications law programs at the University of Nebraska College of Law, will speak at a special Ladies Who Launch event at 6 p.m. Tuesday, January 9 at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. Magilton’s areas of specialty include commercial space law and policy, cybersecurity and cybercrime, and national security. She will focus on the need for more women in leadership positions in aerospace and the technology sector, and positive, concrete steps we can take to advance our careers accordingly.

Ladies Who Launch is a specialized networking group for professional women with ten or more years of experience and a passion for flight, who are actively seeking to advance their careers in any industry and hold, or desire to obtain, leadership roles. Tickets to the event are $35 and are available online.

Battle Point

The Battle Point Astronomical Association’s monthly public events are coming up Saturday, January 13. Family date night starts at 4 p.m. when BP Astro Kids look at how things spin and what that means. The presentation repeats again at 5 p.m. Following at 7:30, the monthly planetarium show looks at the similarities between telescopes and dragonflies, and examines the work of a new class of ‘scopes. There will be stargazing, too, weather permitting.

Astronomy club meetings

Olympic Astronomical Society, Monday, January 8, 7:30 p.m.
Heart of the Valley Astronomers, Tuesday, January 9, 7 p.m.
Boeing Employees Astronomical Society, Friday, January 12, 7 p.m. Agenda
Everett Astronomical Society, Saturday, January 13, 3 p.m.

Futures file

Rose City Astronomers meet next Monday, January 15, at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland. The guest speaker will be Ethan Siegel, author of Treknology: The Science of Star Trek from Tricorders to Warp Drive (Voyaguer Press, 2017). Check out our podcast and article with Siegel about the book. You can always scout future Northwest astronomy events on our calendar.

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Our favorite books and author talks of 2017

We created Seattle Astronomy because, given our region’s seemingly perpetual cloud cover, there were more opportunities to write about astronomy than to actually observe the night skies. We also read the writing of others, go hear them talk about it, and report back to you! Here are our top five author and book stories of 2017.

1. Treknology

Ethan Siegel’s new book Treknology: The Science of Star Trek from Tricorders to Warp Drive (Voyageur Press, 2017) is a must for any Star Trek fan. As the title suggests, Siegel takes a look at a host of technologies imagined by the various Trek TV series and movies and weighs in on which have already come true, which are on the horizon, and which would still require some discovery. Siegel is reluctant to say something will never happen. Instead, with challenging technologies such as warp drive, he looks at the physics of how it could work and the challenges for bringing that to reality. Siegel isn’t just making this stuff up; he’s a theoretical astrophysicist and writes the blog and produces the podcast Starts With a Bang. Siegel has appeared several times on our pages. Find our article and podcast about Treknology, and our articles about his talks on gravitational waves and the expanding universe given to Rose City Astronomers in Portland, and his talk about dark matter at Astronomy on Tap Seattle.

2. American Eclipse

Former NPR science editor David Baron got the idea to write a book about solar eclipses way back in 1998 when he witnessed his first total solar eclipse from the beach in Aruba. He figured 2017 would be a good year to publish, when interest in the great American eclipse was at its peak. American Eclipse: A Nation’s Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World (Liveright, 2017) is the story of the 1878 totality that crossed the American frontier from Montana down through Texas, and it chronicles the efforts of Thomas Edison, Maria Mitchell, and James Craig Watson to view the eclipse. Baron credits the event for sparking a scientific boom in the United States. We just finished the book during a recent train trip and found it to be a marvelous and informative read. Baron spoke at Pacific Science Center in July. Check out our review of his talk.

3. The Greatest Story Ever Told—So Far

Lawrence Krauss is a renowned author and theoretical physicist and cosmologist who packed Town Hall Seattle back in April for a talk about his book The Greatest Story Ever Told—So Far: Why Are We Here? (Atria Books, 2017). We love it when someone can tackle particle physics without causing headaches, and Krauss nailed it with both his talk and the book. Krauss tells not just about the advances in physics over the years, but gives interesting insights about the creative processes that led to the discoveries. As an example, there are at least two cases in which amazing discoveries came when the scientists were sleep deprived because of the recent birth of children! Here’s our review of Krauss’s talk in Seattle. There’s a weak connection between Krauss and Ethan Siegel; one of Krauss’s earlier books is The Physics of Star Trek (Basic Books, 2007).

4. Vacation Guide to the Solar System

Olivia Koski and Jana Grcevich created the “Intergalactic Travel Bureau,” and their book Vacation Guide to the Solar System: Science for the Savvy Space Traveler! (Penguin Books, 2017) is a travel brochure. Packed with information about what to see from Mercury to Pluto, the guide tricks us into learning something in an entertaining and beautifully illustrated format. They spoke at Town Hall Seattle in June. Here our recap.

5. Earth in Human Hands

David Grinspoon himself wonders how an astrobiologist such as himself wound up writing a book about the human impact on Earth. He figures the more we know about how planets work, the better we can be at making changes to the climate that are for the better. In Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet’s Future (Grand Central Publishing, 2016) Grinspoon notes that we aren’t the first species to radically change the planet’s climate; the humble cyanobacteria killed off just about everything else on Earth once by adding oxygen to the atmosphere. Grinspoon spoke at the Pacific Science Center last January; here’s our recap of his talk.

Purchases made through links on Seattle Astronomy earn us a small commission at no cost to you! This helps us keep the lights on. Thanks!

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Our favorite astronomy events from 2017

Happy New Year from Seattle Astronomy!

As 2018 gets under way we take a look back at our five favorite stories from last year.

1. Total Solar Eclipse

Well, duh. We spent nearly two years previewing the greatest celestial observing experience one can have. We did some 28 posts and more than a dozen podcasts about the Great American Eclipse. Seattle Astronomy publisher Greg Scheiderer even appeared on KING-TV’s New Day Northwest to talk eclipses.

To top all of that preparation off, we had gorgeously perfect weather for the eclipse from our viewing point in Monmouth, Oregon at Western Oregon University. Check our dispatches from Monmouth.

2. Apollo exhibit at Museum of Flight

Used engines

To anyone who grew up obsessed with the race to the Moon in the 1960s, the Apollo exhibit that opened in May at the Museum of Flight is about the coolest thing there is after total solar eclipses. And it’s lasted more than two minutes! This is another event that came with great anticipation. Bezos Expeditions found some actual F-1 engines that rocketed Apollo missions into space. They fished them out of the Atlantic Ocean in 2013. Some were donated to the museum in 2015—a story that made our top-five list for that year!—and the exhibit was in the works for nearly a year and a half. While the engines are a commanding centerpiece of the exhibit, there’s a ton of other cool Apollo stuff there as well. Check our podcast previewing the exhibit and article about the opening.

3. Finding ET at Pacific Science Center

Mission: Find Life!The Pacific Science Center had a couple of events during 2017 that highlighted the search for extraterrestrial life. The exhibit Mission: Find Life! ran from March through September in the science center’s Portal to Current Research space. Finding life was also the subject of one of the center’s Science in the City lectures in December. UW professor Erika Harnett participated in both, and Astronomy on Tap Seattle co-founder Brett Morris spoke at the latter as well. Check our podcast with Harnett and articles about the exhibit and the lecture.

4. Astronomy on Tap Seattle

Astronomy on Tap Seattle has been putting on monthly astronomy talks for almost three years now; they debuted in March of 2015. From Bad Jimmy’s to Hilliard’s to their current home at Peddler Brewing Company, graduate students in astronomy at the University of Washington put together monthly talks by students, faculty, and visiting dignitaries. The events also include astronomy trivia, prizes, and good beer. From astronomy art to polarimetry, we got a bit of everything this year. This month’s topics and date haven’t been announced just yet, but look for them around the fourth Wednesday each month.

UPDATE: No sooner did we publish this than the word came out that the next AOT Seattle will be at Peddler Brewing on January 24. Topic: Alien Moons.

5. Kelly Beatty talks Pluto

Scheiderer and Beatty

The Seattle Astronomical Society always lands great keynote speakers for its annual banquet in January, and 2017 was no exception as Sky & Telescope magazine senior editor Kelly Beatty told the story of the history of Pluto. Though Pluto wasn’t discovered until 1930, Beatty noted that the hunt really dates back to the 18th century.

Writer and astrophotographer Robert Reeves will speak at this year’s banquet on January 28.

Up next: our favorite books and author talks of 2017!

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