One Astronomy Workshop Where You Can Cosplay as Sailor Moon

The Launchpad Astronomy Workshop is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that many of us would kill to have — you get to spend a week in Wyoming, learning all of the basics of astronomy, surrounded by some amazing science fiction authors. But right now, the future of Launchpad's funding is in doubt. Plus many of us can't take a week off work, or don't qualify for the workshop's focus on published authors.

Top image: NASA/SDO.

Luckily, there's an alternative — Launchpad organizer Mike Brotherton is organizing a two-day astronomy workshop at one of our favorite conventions, Dragon*Con. It's less of a time commitment, plus it's open to anyone who's interested, on a first-come, first-served basis. This sounds like an amazing opportunity for anybody who wants to improve their writing about space, or just wants a crash course in the fundamentals of astronomy. Here are the details, from the Dragon*Con site:

Dragon*Con is proud to offer a two-day workshop focused on astronomy, physics, and other space sciences and how to present these topics to general audiences. The workshop is designed for writers and editors of science fiction, as well as other interested parties.

The workshop will be directed by Mike Brotherton. Mike is an astronomy professor specializing in quasars, a hard science fiction novelist (Star Dragon, Spider Star), and founder of the Launchpad Astronomy Workshop for Writers held each summer in Laramie, Wyoming. Joining Mike is Launchpad co-founder and science education specialist, Dr. Jim Verley, observational cosmologist Adam Myers, internationally recognized astronomy education researchers Tim and Stephanie Slater, and planetary astronomy Kevin R. Grazier who is science consultant for TV and movies (Battlestar Galactica, Eureka, the upcoming movie Gravity, and many others).

Among subjects to be included are fundamentals (light, gravity, size scales, cycles in the sky), planets (solar system and extrasolar), stars (properties and evolution), galaxies and cosmology, and issues common to "science fiction science" (artificial gravity, relativity, the space environment, etc.). Special attention will be given to common misconceptions, jargon, and techniques for communicating science that make science less accessible. Examples from popular movies and books, good and bad, will be used for illustration.

The aim of the workshop is to provide participants with an introduction, or an update, to modern astronomy and related fields as practiced in the 21st century, to encourage them to include more and more accurate astronomy in their writing, and to learn how to improve their presentation of scientific concepts to the public.

The workshop will take place on Friday, August 31 and Saturday, September 1 2012, from 10 AM to 1 PM, then from 2 PM to 6 PM.

Members ONLY Price - $195
Non-Members Price - $295

Space is limited to thirty participants, first-come, first-served. Mike will keep a waiting list if anyone who has been accepted drops out. Participants will need to bring pen and paper, laptop or voice recorder for taking notes. (If you bring an electronic device, you may need an extension cord.) No videos of the workshop will be permitted.