Launch Pad 2014 Retrospective and Slides

Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop

I’ve been meaning to write about my experience at this year’s Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop for a while now. Ok, who am I kidding, I’ve been meaning to write about anything on this blog for a while now but I’ve been so busy with my new job that there has been precious little time for anything else. (In fact, no sooner did I return home from Wyoming than I had to re-pack my stuff and head up to New York City for meetings — talk about contrast.)

Which is why Launch Pad couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Yes, it’s a lot of work, and yes, it consumes a great deal of my personal CPU, but it’s a welcome reset from the daily routine and a chance to do what I love to do best — tell cool people about the universe.

And what a bunch of cool people! Launch Pad self-selects for those who want to learn astronomy and who are willing to commit the time and expense to spend a week with us in Laramie, WY to do it. Each year brings a group of truly wonderful people and I couldn’t have been more delighted to get to know this years’ participants.

Far better writers than I such as Andrew Liptak, Jenn Reese, Sarah McCarry, Susan Forest, Gabrielle Harbowy, and others took the time to express their thoughts on this year’s Launch Pad and I highly recommend checking them out. In the meantime, as promised, here are my slides from this year’s workshop (NOTE: The file sizes on most of these are very large so please be patient as they download):

Exploring Our Solar System — I’d like to think this subject is somewhat self-explanatory, but it’s awfully hard to condense the entire solar system into a one-hour talk. Especially since we’re finding out so many things about it.

Motion, Energy, and Gravity — I had to rush through this one to get it ready for presentation but I think we got the main points covered here.

Binary Stars and Exoplanets — I pride myself on this one as the work I did on binary stars as an undergrad used the same techniques that detect extrasolar planets today. It turns out it wasn’t a matter of telescope power — the signal was hiding in the noise the whole time, just waiting for the computational horsepower to improve.

Stars — How stars’ temperature and radii determine their luminosity, how their spectra allow us to classify them according to their temperature and mass, and how they form in the first place.

Stellar End States, Part 1 — How low-mass stars evolve and die, with a preview of things to happen to our Sun starting in a few billion years.

Getting to share the universe with such wonderful people is always a joy, but I think this year was extra special thanks to our advisor Peepy dropping by to help us.

We’ll be doing this again next year so I guess I’d better start updating my slides.