Colbert and the Astronomer

Colbert Nation and Derrick Pitts

Stephen Colbert had my good bud and all-around astronomer Derrick Pitts on the show last night.  Derrick’s at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, and he curated an exhibit about the astronomer Galileo Galilei.  Derrick’s a funny guy, a good sport, and I’ve known him in planetarium circles for a number of years. Check it out — Derrick scores some good ones with Stephen Colbert.

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Derrick Pitts
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Visit 80 Telescopes in 24 Hours

Around the World in 80 Telescopes

Ever wonder what it’s like on top of all those mountains and in the institutes where astronomy gets done? I know I always did — until I actually spent time observing on Mauna Kea back in the 1990s.  It was everything I expected, and more!

If you’re interested in knowing what it’s like in those places, the European Southern Observatory is doing a free 24-hour public video webcast called “Around the World in 80 Telescopes.” This event is part of “100 Hours of Astronomy” which is part of the International Year of Astronomy. It’s designed and produced to let everybody who logs in to the site to visit some of the most advanced observatories on — and above — the planet. The stream begins on April 3 at 09:00 GMT (that’s 5 a.m. on the U.S. East Coast) until April 4 at 09:00 GMT.  During that time you’ll see new images of the cosmos, find out what observatories are doing, and have the opportunity to send in questions and messages to the folks doing Big Astronomy.

A map of observatories participating in Around the World in 80 Telescopes.  (Click to embiggen.)

A map of observatories participating in "Around the World in 80 Telescopes." (Click to embiggen.)

Participating telescopes include those at observatories in Chile such as ESO’s Very Large Telescope and La Silla, the Hawaii-based telescopes Gemini North and Keck, the Anglo-Australian Telescope, telescopes in the Canary Islands and the Southern African Large Telescope. A number of space-based telescopes such as the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, ESA XMM-Newton and Integral are also taking part in this 24-hour “Observatory-a-thon”.  Around the World in 80 Telescopes will take viewers to every continent, including Antarctica!

Read more about this great chance to visit the world’s observatories at the event’s website. There, you’ll find links to the webcast and a whole lot of background on the production.

On a personal note, Mark’s music is being used on the Gemini Observatory webcast for this event. Right now, it’s the first one up in the rotation, which means we’ll need to get up early to catch it!  For you folks in Europe, you can start enjoying the full-day event over morning tea or coffee!!   So, wherever you are, check it out!