T-MINUS 8 DAYS UNTIL LAUNCH PAD ASTRONOMY WORKSHOP

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I got a few responses about my last post discussing my upcoming attendance at Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop, which blasts off just eight days from now. A couple of talented writers in different phases of their careers essentially said, “Oh, I could never do something like that because my brain isn’t good with science and math.” Those remarks reminded me of comments I’ve heard from time to time from writers who’ve told me, “I could never write a story for Analog because I don’t know enough chemistry or physics.”

Such statements always make me a little sad. I wish these hard-working, creative, and talented folks didn’t set the barrier so high for themselves. Don’t they realize that many science fiction writers focus on an area of science that has almost nothing to do with their undergraduate or graduate training in a completely different field? That’s one of the great things about human beings: we are adaptable; we can delve into whole new areas of learning and attain new proficiencies.

I’m firmly convinced that everyone—and I do mean EVERYONE—who is an intelligent, decently educated reader can, with a modicum of interest and effort, grasp much of the basics of astronomy, or other sciences, and work to improve their knowledge of these fields.

How do you get started? One way I tried to prepare for Launch Pad was by taking an on-line course given by Future Learn entitled Moons. For eight weeks, I spent some of my spare time learning a lot about the Moon, its relationship with the Earth, as well as the other moons in our solar system, of which there are hundreds of varying shapes, sizes, and compositions. The course is free, self-paced, and fascinating. After each learning module, there is an opportunity for students from all over the world to comment. It’s truly inspiring to see that people of all ages who have never had any formal science training, as well as those who know a great deal, can come together to help one another understand key concepts, as well as how those concepts play out in our solar system.

There are many other science courses that one can take on line at no cost. The time commitment can be as much or as little as one would like to put into it. Plus, it’s a lot of fun to wrap your brain around new concepts and ways of thinking.

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