Last week I was in Laramie, Wyoming for the 2012 Launchpad Astronomy Workshop. I heard about the workshop from Vonda N. McIntyre and Deborah Ross, who both attended in earlier years and were very enthusiastic about their experiences. It’s described as a semester of astronomy crammed into a week. Sounds like fun, right? I applied in the spring almost as soon as the application period opened, though I didn’t really expect to get in.
Launchpad is a workshop designed by Mike Brotherton and Jim Verley to educate writers, film makers, game developers, etc. in real astronomical science and space technology, in the hope that what they learn will be reflected in their work, and will in turn help to educate the general public. Naturally, the bigger a writer’s audience, the bigger the outreach effort. I assumed other writers, with larger readerships, would be ahead of me in the selection process, but to my surprise I was offered a slot, and I eagerly accepted.
It turned out to be a great week of fascinating lectures by Mike Brotherton, Geoffrey Landis, and Christian Ready, enhanced by group dinners, and two field trips. This year’s workshop was funded by the National Science Foundation. Funding for next year is uncertain, but hopefully it will come through. If it does, and if you’re a writer/film maker/game designer with an interest in astronomy (and if you don’t mind living in a college dorm for a week, at elevation of 7000-feet!) then you should apply.
Here are a few photos:
If you’re going to DragonCon you can sign up for a mini-version of Launchpad.
And don’t forget to check out Mike Brotherton’s science fiction novels: Spider Star and Star Dragon.