Get out your telescope (or come borrow one of ours) for a night of urban stargazing and live music as we celebrate the dance of the planets. Learn even more about the universe at our Star Chat, where some of the world’s best astronomers, physicists, and scientists will discuss hunting for life, landing crafts on Mars, and discovering planets trillions and trillions of miles away. Gear up for the Rosetta Mission that is slated to land on a comet later this year by visiting our model comet with interactive programming. Finally, get a taste of what it’s like to be an exoplanet hunter with NASA’s interactive game, The Hidden Light, and enjoy finding your favorite constellations without ever leaving the city.
Bobak Ferdowsi, also known as “Mohawk Guy,” is a member of the Engineering Operations Team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He acted as Flight Director during the landing of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity on Gale Crater in 2012. He now serves as Mission Engineer on the Europa Clipper study, a project to further explore Jupiter’s icy moon. His prior positions have included Mission Planner and Integrated Launch and Cruise Verification and Validation Engineer on Mars Science Laboratory, as well as Science Planner on the Cassini mission. Ferdowsi holds a master’s in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT.
Michael S. Hopkins is a current NASA astronaut who returned from a six-month stay aboard the International Space Station in March. He served as a flight engineer and conducted both science experiments and maintenance, spending almost 13 hours outside of the station on spacewalks. Hopkins returned to Earth after traveling more than 70 million miles. Prior to training on ISS systems and robotics at NASA, Hopkins was selected as a special assistant to the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He holds a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from Stanford University.
Steve B. Howell is the project scientist for the NASA Kepler mission and the NASA K2 mission. Steve received his PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Amsterdam and has worked in many aspects of astronomy including instrument building for ground and space-based telescopes, university education, and public outreach. The Kepler Space Telescope, launched in 2009, had a goal to discover planets orbiting other stars – exoplanets – using the transit technique. To date, Kepler has discovered over 3500 exoplanets candidates, nearly 1000 confirmed exoplanets, and many hundred exoplanets that are similar to the Earth in size. The K2 mission has just begun and promises to continue the search for exoplanets around the closest and brightest stars as well as provide the best scientific datasets ever obtained for many of the famous star clusters and well-known stars along the Zodiac. Howell has written over 700 scientific publications, numerous popular and technical articles, and has written and edited 8 books on astronomy and astronomical instrumentation. He has also written his first science fiction book, A Kepler’s Dozen. He is currently working on a molecular gastronomy scientific education and cooking book with his friend and White House head pastry chef, Bill Yosses. Steve is highly involved with informal and formal scientific education for kids to adults, enjoys gourmet cooking and playing blues music.
Mario Livio is an internationally known astrophysicist, a bestselling author, and a popular speaker. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has published more than 400 scientific papers on topics ranging from dark energy, cosmology, and black holes, to supernova explosions, extrasolar planets, and the emergence of life in the universe. Livio is the author of five popular science books, including The Golden Ratio (for which he received the Peano Prize and the International Pythagoras Prize) and Is God a Mathematician? which inspired the 2015 NOVA program The Great Math Mystery. Livio’s most recent book, Brilliant Blunders, was on The New York Times Best Sellers list and was selected by the Washington Post as one of the “2013 Best Books of the Year.”
Irene Pease has a bachelors degree in physics from the University of Arizona, in Tucson, AZ, where she briefly studied accretion discs around binary pulsars. As Brooklyn’s Friendly Neighborhood Astronomer, she leads astronomy classes indoors and also under the night skies at local parks, and shares her passion with the public using her homemade telescope. Pease currently teaches at York College, develops and performs live presentations in the Hayden Planetarium, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York.