I'm really excited about this: Next week, on Friday January 30, I will be moderating a panel of four top-notch astronomers who will be talking about their cutting-edge research. This is a public event held at Caltech in Pasadena, California. Basic info (as well as where to RSVP) can be found on the Hive Overmind Discover Magazine webpage -- you can submit questions for the panel there too. The astronomers are: 1) Mike Brown, who looks for Kuiper Belt Objects, those giant iceballs at the outer edge of the solar system, and was the discoverer of Eris, an object bigger than Pluto; 2) Debra Fischer, who discovers planets orbiting other stars; 3) Andrea Ghez, who studies the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, and was largely responsible for determining its mass of 4 million times that of the Sun; and 4) Saul Perlmutter, who led one of the two teams that independently discovered dark energy, the mysterious stuff that is making the cosmic expansion accelerate ever faster (and will win a bunch of people the Nobel prize someday). How's that for a lineup! These are four fantastic people. They are not just great scientists, and not just doing incredible work; they are all engaging, fun, and interesting people who will fill your brain with their studies on some of the most interesting objects in the Universe. And of course, there'll be me, standing there like the big doofus that I am, making terrible puns and throwing out topics to them in the hope that they'll run with them. Knowing these four I'll have no problems at all. Again, it's a public event, so if you're in the area you should really try to come. I guarantee this will be totally cool, and if you read this blog (and I'm guessing you do) I know you'll love the panel. There's more info at the Caltech page, too. And if you can't make it, don't despair: the whole thing will be recorded and made available on the DM site. This event is sponsored by Discover Magazine, the Thirty Meter Telescope project, Caltech, and the National Science Foundation.