The Night Sky from Brooklyn Bridge Park – Free

Date: Saturday May 31, 2014
Time: 07:00 PM-11:00 PM
Venue: Brooklyn Bridge Park – Pier 1
Participants: Bobak Ferdowsi, Michael S. Hopkins, Steve Howell, Mario Livio, Christina Pease

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.

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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.

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NASA Astronaut

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.

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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 DozenHe 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 best-selling author and a popular lecturer. His popular book The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi, the World’s Most Astonishing Number won the Peano Prize for 2003, and the International Pythagoras Prize for 2004, as the best popular book on mathematics, while his Is God A Mathematician? was selected by the Washington Post as one of the best books of 2009.

Livio is a senior astrophysicist at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), which conducts the scientific program of the Hubble Space Telescope, and will conduct the program for the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope. He has a regular blog, A Curious Mind, about science, art, and the links between them.

During the past decade, Livio’s research focused on supernova explosions and their use in cosmology to determine the rate of expansion of the universe, and the nature of the “dark energy” that causes the cosmic expansion to accelerate. He has also done extensive work on extrasolar planets.

Livio’s recent book, Brilliant Blunders (2013), was a New York Times Bestseller, and was selected by the Washington Post as one of the “Best Books” of 2013.

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Astrophysics Educator

Christina Pease is an Astrophysics Educator at the American Museum of Natural History. She teaches astronomy and Earth science courses to New York City students, and develops and performs “Astronomy Live” and “Family Astronomy” presentations in the Hayden Planetarium. Through her work as an amateur astronomer at the Vega-Bray Observatory and international science outreach efforts, she has led stargazing events with groups of all ages. Now Brooklyn’s Friendly Neighborhood Astronomer, she serves on the Board of Directors for the Amateur Astronomers Association and shares her passion with the public using her homemade telescope.