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15 February 2009 @ 11:33 pm
Launch Pad 2009 applications now open  
You may recall that last year I attended the Launch Pad astronomy workshop. Well, applications are now open for this year's workshop. It will be held July 14-21, 2009.

Launch Pad is a week-long crash course for modern astronomy held annually in Laramie, Wyoming, and combines traditional lecture, experiment, activities, discussion, and telescope visits that include a trip to the 2.3 meter telescope at WIRO.

Launch Pad is NASA-funded, and the workshop pays for lodging, travel, and some additional expenses (most but not all meals, textbooks). Attendence is limited to about a dozen participants, who are selected based on audience size and audience diversity. That’s a fancy way of saying they don’t just admit a dozen white male hard sf novelists who write for pretty much the same audience. They would love to see more applications from writers of all genres, non-fiction writers, screen writers, playwrights, editors and anyone with the ability to put more and better quality astronomy in front of interested eyes, although they expect many participants to continue to be science fiction novelists as they have dominated the applicant pool.

The special guest instructor this year is Joe Haldeman, science fiction novelist, who has a degree in physics and astronomy and is an avid amateur astronomer. Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy is also scheduled to present. Regular presenters Mike Brotherton and Jim Verley will do their thing as usual, and there will be other astronomers guest-lecturing in their specialties.

The application form, more information about the workshop, a history, and detailed reports from previous Launch Pad participants Alma Alexander and me are available online. Applications will be open until March 15 and final decisions should be made by March 31.

I had a blast last year, and I encourage any SF writer with an interest in astronomy to apply.