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The Sciences

SpaceFest Report #3

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitAugust 21, 2007 4:56 AM

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I'm finally caught up on sleep, I think, after SpaceFest, and glad to be in a place where the high temperature is in double digits. The SpaceFest 2007 meeting was fantastic. Just being able to hang out with astronauts was very cool all by itself. But there was a lot more. The art exhibit (SpaceFest was sponsored by NovaSpace, a space art store) was incredible. It was tempting to buy several pieces... but then I remembered I quit my job. Oh well. Talking with other authors and scientists is always great, but the best part was being surrounded by space enthusiasts. These people were as delighted, awed, and overwhelmed as I was to be there. The talks were great -- for example, Dan Durda and Rusty Schweickart gave a talk about mitigating asteroid impacts, which was completely fascinating, and made me realize I need to rewrite (well, add about 1000 words to) the first chapter of my book. I'm doing that tonight. I also was able to get several autographs, including one from this guy:

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Yeah, that's Buzz Aldrin, signing a copy of my book. I got several astronauts to sign it (it was donated to me by my friend Bob Summerfield of Astronomy To Go), and I have big plans for it... which I will not divulge now. Later, I promise. I took quite a few more pix, and they are now up on my Flickr page. But I have to include this one. It's a bit fuzzy, but geez...

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Those are all the astronauts who attended SpaceFest minus one or two who had already left (John Young and I think Dave ScottUpdate (Aug 22): the man standing on the left is Dave Scott). Several of those men walked on the Moon. The next time you see the Moon in the sky -- and it's up now as I write this -- think about that as you gaze upon it. At the meeting, there was a strong sense of history, of course. But there was also a sense of future. A lot of people were talking about going back to the Moon, of what will be coming next. Buzz wants to help civilians and private companies get into space. Several attendees are working hard for that future. I'm joining them. When you are literally surrounded by men who stood on the surface of an alien world, you get this feeling that there really isn't anything we cannot do. It's a cliche, but it's true: if we can put a man on the Moon, we can do whatever needs to be done. I hope those men get to see the next generation of men and women walk on its surface once again. They were our first ambassadors to the nearest world to us, and they will not be the last.

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