Launch Pad: Day 5, Friday

Urg. I accidentally set my alarm for 8AM instead of 10AM, and when it went off, I couldn’t get back to sleep. I hate me.

We had a field trip to WIRO (U of Wyoming Infrared Observatory), about 25 miles away from Laramie, up a steep and bumpy mountain road, and stayed out very late. The WIRO (2.3-meter) telescope is huge. HUGE! Like plane hanger huge. But it’s only considered a medium-sized telescope.

They don’t actually look through the telescope, but get the image via computer monitor. So we saw the ring nebula and galaxies and star clusters in pixeleted glory. Quite cool, but y’know, the best viewing for me was simply walking outside and looking up and seeing the Milky Way and the night sky in the unpolluted mountain air. The stars were so bright, so beautiful. Oooo.

WIRO pix:

I couldn’t get the whole telescope in my frame. shaolingrrl provides a scale reference.

Mini WIRO model

ktempest crashed out on the WIRO living room couch. The observatory is like a comfy house inside complete with kitchen, shower, sleeping room, WIRO cat (a working feline; we even saw her hunt and kill a mouse), and VHS movies. There were a couple students there doing research, and I felt like we were invading their home.

Then there was the control room right off the living room (with the WIRO cat).

No title required!

We stopped at a little cowboy bar en route to WIRO to stretch our legs, and Alaya found a friendly rock to climb.

They loaded many goodies in the van, and we opened them up during our layover break. samhenderson and her hoard of cookies!

And some non-WIRO pix from Friday:

Josepha and Jerry: separated at birth?

Vonda crocheting yarn marine critters

Jerry and white board in our classroom

The very tame bunny hanging out by our apartment complex

A gorgeous old telescope in the university astronomy building.

Launch Pad Class of 2007!

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6 Responses to Launch Pad: Day 5, Friday

  1. wbledbetter says:

    That looks so cool. I would love to do that.

  2. The scope looks fabulous. Thanks for sharing the pictures, although jealousy abounds. Loved the rock climbing and cookies, pix, too. Gee, I didn’t know Josepha had a twin!

    I ran into my NASA friend Les Johnson (often speaks at SF cons) at the HP book launch. He signed his new co-authored book for me, but had never heard of Launch Pad. I was stunned. It is a NASA-sponsored event, right?

    Although I’d like to keep it all for myself, for more on Les’s new co-authored book, read about Living off the Land in Space: Green Roads to the Cosmos by Gregory L. Matloff, Les Johnson, C. Bangs at

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s a NASA *funded* event. I put it together, proposed, and got the money to feed all these talented people great food and ideas. The only official NASA awareness currently is probably my program officer. Our first time doing it, too, so no results to crow about. Yet. I’m sure Eugie will write some fabulous astrorich stories in the future.

      Mike Brotherton

      • Future Launch Pad events?

        Thanks for the info on Launch Pad’s status. Does it look like a repeat may occur? If so, is there an application process or is it invitation only event? And what are you looking for in participants?

        • Anonymous says:

          Re: Future Launch Pad events?

          I have funding for four years total, so I expect to do this for at least three more years. The website is and there’s information there about applying and such. I’m looking to reach anyone who can bring astronomy to a large audience (and the more diverse the audience, the better, as SF fans are the easiest to reach). Writers are the primary target group, but editors, artists, playwrights, songwriters…they’re all fair game. We’ll probably open 2008 applications in February or March. We don’t have a date or guest instructor lined up yet for next year, but should do so by fall.


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