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Grand Canyon Star Party: Astronomy at the Edge of the Universe

Program Number: 16157RJ
Start and End Dates:
6/24/2014 - 6/29/2014; 6/16/2015 - 6/21/2015;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Flagstaff, Arizona
Price starting at: $855.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Science & Nature; National Parks; Festivals, Misc.; Natural History Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 13; 5 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Glance down and you will see some of the oldest exposed rocks from our planet. Glance up and you will behold the origin of our universe. Welcome to the Grand Canyon Star Party! Enjoy two nights of sky watching at one of Arizona's greatest astronomical events of the year as more than 40 telescopes are pointed at the skies above to behold the wonders of clear June skies.




Highlights

• In Flagstaff, a center for astronomical study since the late 1800s, meet astronomers and discuss planetary geology, the origin of the universe, NASA projects and other current topics.
• Visit Lowell Observatory where Pluto was discovered, and Meteor Crater, the world's best-preserved meteorite impact site, used as a training ground for the Apollo astronauts.
• At the Grand Canyon, learn about the geology of this world wonder and national treasure while enjoying walks to its most spectacular viewpoints.



Activity Particulars

Walking up to one mile on uneven terrain. Elevations are up to 7,000'.



Itinerary Summary

Arrival Flagstaff, 3 nights; coach to Grand Canyon South Rim, 2 nights; departure.



Coordinated by Northern Arizona University.




Flagstaff

Nestled at the foot of the San Francisco Peaks in northern Arizona, Flagstaff is a perfect departure point for trips to the Glen and Grand canyons or Sunset Crater National Monument. At 7,000 feet in elevation, this cool mountain city is one of the highest in the nation.



Accommodations
Flagstaff: comfortable, centrally located hotel. Grand Canyon: National Park lodge.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Richard Stephens

Rich has been director of Northern Arizona University’s highly popular Road Scholar programs since 2001. He previously spent many years in the field as a program coordinator and group leader, where he honed his skills and learned the importance of detailed, pre-trip planning. Before making his home in Arizona’s spectacular red-rock country, Rich spent 10 years in Yosemite National Park and the Santa Cruz mountains as an environmental educator.
 
Jeff Strang

Jeff Strang's knowledge of the environment stems from over 35 years of hiking, paddling, and photography in the outdoors, his extensive experience as a naturalist, as well as from his education at the University of Oregon and Lewis and Clark Law School. In 1987, Jeff filed a precedent-setting lawsuit against Oregon polluters under the Clean Water Act. Jeff has been leading Road Scholar programs since 2002. In his free time, Jeff enjoys biking to work, hiking, kayaking, outdoor photography and studying geology.
 
Nadine Barlow

Dr. Nadine Barlow received both her bachelor’s (astronomy), and her doctorate (planetary sciences) from the University of Arizona. She has been a post-doctoral fellow at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas; a National Research Council Fellow at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston; and an assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, where she also served as the first Director of the UCF Robinson Observatory.
 
Bryan Bates

Bryan Bates is an Ex Officio member of the Governing Board for the International Society for Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture. Under a NASA grant, he created a course manual for archaeoastronomy and published research on a solar calendar at Wupatki and an equinox site near Stoneman Lake. He is involved in a research project on archaeoastronomy at Mesa Verde National Park and teaches archaeoastronomy, as well as biology, environmental science, natural history and chemistry.
 
David Cole

David Cole has been on faculty at Northern Arizona University for 11 years and is a past recipient of the LOUIE Award for outstanding professor. Formerly assistant director of the NASA Space Grant on campus, he left that post to assume a senior lecturer position that allows him to focus more on teaching physics and astronomy. He has three small children, but none of them has expressed an interest to be an astronaut — yet.
 
Kevin Mullins

Kevin Mullins began working for the U.S. Geological Survey while still a student at Northern Arizona University, where he earned his master’s on the spectral responses and geochemistry of the Moenkopi Dune field. He has worked on all major NASA solar system mapping projects — including Viking and Voyager images — and now splits his time between terrestrial and planetary geology projects. Kevin also teaches part time at a local community college and enjoys writing poetry and playing the guitar.
 
Meals and Lodgings
   Flagstaff La Quinta Inn & Suites
  Flagstaff, AZ 3 nights
   Grand Canyon South Rim Lodge
  Grand Canyon Village (S Rim) 2 nights
 Flagstaff La Quinta Inn & Suites
Type: Hotel
  Description: Four floors with 2 elevators, 128 rooms. Conveniently close to shopping. One quarter mile to Northern Arizona University. 2 miles to historic downtown Flagstaff. Wide range of cuisine available at nearby restaurants.
  Contact info: 2015 S Beulah Blvd
Flagstaff, AZ 86001 USA
phone: 928-556-8666
web: www.lq.com/lq/properties/propertyProfile.do?ident=LQ939&propId=939
  Room amenities: Free WIFI, dataport phones, premium cable channels, coffee maker, hair dryer, clock.
  Facility amenities: Seasonal outdoor pool and spa, fitness center. Deluxe continental breakfast. Guest coin operated laundry available. Free local calls. Participants requesting a refrigerator for medicine can have access to a locked refrigerator that is located in the hotel lobby area. Lobby microwave available to guests 24 hours. Safety deposit box at front desk available to all guests. Roll away beds for $10.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Seasonal Call local La Quinta for the rates available during your stay (928) 556-8666. NOTE: When they get the pre-recorded information they must hit the "6" option, to connect with group sales, which has the information about Road Scholar groups.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 Grand Canyon South Rim Lodge
Type: Lodge
  Description: Less than ¼ mile from the canyon rim.
  Contact info: Grand Canyon Village
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023 USA
phone: 928-638-2631
web: www.grandcanyonlodges.com
  Room amenities: Telephone, TV, alarm clock, private bath.
  Facility amenities: Full service cafeteria, gift shop, guest laundry facilities and medical services. Trailheads for hiking adjacent to property. Pick up points for South Rim shuttles on property.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Check out time: 11:00 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Hotel meeting room, 4:30 - 5:15 PM, on-site registration. You will be staying at Flagstaff La Quinta Inn & Suites that night.
  End of Program:
NAU Road Scholar van will return participants to Flagstaff Hotel about 10:30 AM. You will be staying at Grand Canyon South Rim Lodge the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Free parking at the Flagstaff hotel. You may leave you car there while we are at the Grand Canyon
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Flagstaff, AZ
  Nearest city or town:  Phoenix, AZ 150 miles south.
  Nearest highway: I-17 and I-40
  Nearest airport:  Phoenix Sky Harbor Intl, Flagstaff Commuter
  From End of Program
  Location:  Deaprtures
Travel Details
 

Flagstaff, AZ to/from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport #16157

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
Van Go Shuttle
phone: 866-448-2646
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Estimated $45, price does not include customary gratuity.
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

2.5-3 hours (from Phoenix). 

 

Distance:

 

151 miles

   

Van Go times shuttles to mesh with program start/end in Flagstaff. Best to arrive in Phoenix Sky Harbor airport by 10:30AM and book departures from PHX after 4PM. Call Van Go PRIOR to booking flights to aid in ease of travel transfers as Van Go offers just one shuttle departure time. Van Go picks up from all terminals at Phoenix airport and nearby airport hotels, and drops off at program hotel. Return shuttle departs immediately upon conclusion of program from Flagstaff La Quinta Hotel.

 

Phoenix

 

To Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Public Transportation
US Airways
phone: 800-418-4322
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$140.00 - or less, see comments below.
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

   

Commuter Air to Flagstaff Airport, taxi to hotel (appx. $12.00) Air fare to Flagstaff much cheaper (exact cost varies) if flight to Phoenix is also on US Air. Phoenix to Flagstaff distance 150 miles; 45 min flight time. Five flights daily.

 

Grand Canyon

 

To Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Public Transportation
US Airways
phone: 800-418-4322
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$140.00 or less, see comments, below.
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

   

After Road Scholar ground shuttle from GC to Flagstaff, taxi to Flagstaff airport ($12.00, 5 miles) catch commuter flight to Phoenix airport (150 miles, 45 minutes) appx. $140.00 - less (fare varies) if entire trip is on US Air. Five flights daily.

 

Flagstaff, AZ to/from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
Arizona Shuttle
phone: 877-226-8060
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Approx. $45.00 one way ($41.00 Internet Reservation); $5.00 each way drop off/pickup at La Quinta
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

Approx 3 hours 

 

Distance:

 

150 Miles

   

Call Arizona Shuttle for departure times PRIOR to booking flights. 9 shuttles daily from/to the Phoenix airport. Upon arrival into Phoenix airport, check in required at shuttle desk in baggage claim area of airport,15 minutes before shuttle departure. Flagstaff La Quinta Hotel drop off/pick up by advanced reservation ($5.00 extra charge per reservation BY MENTIONING ROAD SCHOLAR); otherwise the drop off/pick up is at Flagstaff Amtrak (Visitor Center). Advanced reservations required.

 
Driving Directions
  Albuquerque W on I-40 to Flagstaff, exit 195. N on Milton Road to the first stop light, Forest Meadows. Left for quarter block to next light, Beulah Blvd. R on Beulah for quarter block to La Quinta on left, 2015 S. Beulah.
  Denver S on I-25 438 mi to Albuquerque. W on I-40 320 mi to Flagstaff exit 195 N, Milton Rd. N on Milton to first stop light, Forest Meadows. Left for quarter block to next light, Beulah Blvd. R on Beulah for quarter block to La Quinta on left, 2015 S. Beulah.
  Los Angeles E on I-40 to Flagstaff, exit 195. N on Milton Road to the first stop light, Forest Meadows. Left for quarter block to next light, Beulah Blvd. R on Beulah for quarter block to La Quinta on left, 2015 S. Beulah.
  Phoenix N on 1-17 until it ends, becoming Milton Rd in Flagstaff. At 1st stop light, Forest Meadows, turn left for quarter block to next light, Beulah Blvd. R on Beulah for quarter block to La Quinta on left, 2015 S. Beulah.
  Salt Lake City & the Northwest S on I -15 181 mi to I - 70 jct; E on I - 70 29 mi to jct US 89; S on US 89 206 mi to Page, AZ, then another 135 mi S on US 89 to I-40 W in Flagstaff, AZ. I-40 W 5 mi to exit 195, Milton Rd N. N on Milton to first stoplight, Forest Meadows. Left for a quarter block to next light, Beulah Blvd. Right on Beulah quarter block to La Quinta on left, 2015 S. Beulah.
Elevation Note: 7,000 ft elevation. Those with heart or lung concerns should consult physician before attending.

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Registration/Orientation & Introductions
(Tuesday, June 24)

Note: Walk two blocks each way for dinner



   
 Afternoon: Hotel check-in, register with program coordinator in hotel meeting room.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
 Evening: Orientation to program, introductions to other participants.
   
Accommodations: Flagstaff La Quinta Inn & Suites
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Our Place in the Universe/Lowell Observatory/Archaeo-astronomy
(Wednesday, June 25)

Note: Optional walk to NAU Campus 3/4 mile; Walk 200 yards to Lunch; Walking tour around Lowell Observatory



   
 Breakfast: Deluxe continental breakfast at the hotel to include waffles, hard boiled eggs, fresh fruits, pastries, bagels, cereals, muffins, juices, milk and coffee.
 Morning: After breakfast, shuttle or walk to NAU for the morning presentation on "Our Place in the Universe". This lecture will give an overview of the Universe from its origins, the "Big Bang Theory", to how stars are born, the creation of our solar system, and current discoveries/thoughts on subjects such as dark matter, string theory, and more.
 Lunch: Walk 200 yards to lunch at the south campus University dining facility. Enjoy a wide selection of items including a salad and soup bar, sandwich bar, pastas, hot chicken sandwiches, mexican wraps, and more.
 Afternoon: For the afternoon we have a field trip to Lowell Observatory for a walking history tour. We will see the 24 inch Clark Telescope that Percival Lowell used to study Mars, the Pluto Discovery Scope, the Rotunda and the Exhibit Hall. Founded in 1894 by astronomer Percival Lowell, the Observatory is among the oldest observatories in the United States and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965. The Observatory's original 24-inch Alvan Clark Telescope is still in use today for public education. Also located on the Mars Hill campus is the 13-inch (0.33-meter) Pluto Discovery Telescope, used by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930 to discover the dwarf planet Pluto. Lowell Observatory is currently building the 4.2-meter Discovery Channel Telescope in partnership with Discovery Communications, Inc.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
 Evening: The evening presentation will be on the night sky, telescopes or another topic of interest.
   
Accommodations: Flagstaff La Quinta Inn & Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Meteor Crater/NASA Projects
(Thursday, June 26)

Note: One mile guided walk along rim of Meteor Crater



   
 Breakfast: Deluxe continental breakfast at the hotel to include waffles, hard boiled eggs, fresh fruits, pastries, bagels, cereals, muffins, juices, milk and coffee.
 Morning: After breakfast, travel to Meteor Crater. Meteor Crater is lauded as the first proven and best preserved meteor impact site on earth. Participants can go on an optional one mile guided tour of the crater rim and walk a portion of its 2.4 mile circumference, or view the crater from the accessible platform. Opportunities to visualize the impact event can be enjoyed when visiting the sites impressive museum and watching the 80' wide movie theatre screen. The museum also houses numerous interactive exhibits and on display is the largest chunk discovered of the several hundred thousand ton meteor. Return to Flagstaff in time for lunch.
 Lunch: Lunch at the south campus University dining facility. Enjoy a wide selection of items including a salad and soup bar, sandwich bar, pastas, hot chicken sandwiches, mexican wraps, and more. Walk 200 yards from south dining to our classroom.
 Afternoon: Following lunch, enjoy two presentations. The first is a discussion on current NASA projects, its space station and humans in space. Following a short break, the presentation will be on archaeo-astronomy in the Southwest: what did the ancestral puebloans know about the night sky, how did they know it and how did we know that they knew it.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
 Evening: After dinner, the choices are yours for a free evening. Explore historic downtown Flagstaff, visit Northern Arizona University, or relax as you like.
   
Accommodations: Flagstaff La Quinta Inn & Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Geology/Desert View Watchtower
(Friday, June 27)

Note: Several short walks at Grand Canyon viewpoints, after dark walk around telescope viewing area at Mather Point



   
 Breakfast: Deluxe continental breakfast at the hotel to include waffles, hard boiled eggs, fresh fruits, pastries, bagels, cereals, muffins, juices, milk and coffee.
 Morning: The morning presentation will be on Geology of the Grand Canyon. Following the presentation we will board the bus or vans for the trip to the Grand Canyon - first stop being the old Cameron Trading Post on the Little Colorado River.
 Lunch: Lunch in the Cameron Trading Post dinning room.
 Afternoon: After lunch at the trading post, we climb up the Colorado Plateau to the Little Colorado Overlook, and then on to the eastern entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park at Desert View. Walk 200 yards to the Desert View Watchtower. The Watchtower was designed by Mary Colter in 1932 to resemble the watchtowers of the ancestral puebloans. Time permitting, we then follows the eastern expanse of the South Rim, stopping at Yavapai Point to view the expansive sight of 1.8 billion years of geologic development. Late afternoon check-in at a south rim Grand Canyon lodge (usually either Maswik or Yavapai lodge).
 Dinner: Dinner at the Cafe of our South Rim lodge.
 Evening: After dinner will be the first of our two nights of the Grand Canyon Star Party. Begin with a talk relating to a current astronomical topic or related research. Once things get dark, stroll the parking lot of Mather Point on the South Rim where approximately 40 telescopes are pointed at the skies above. Each telescope is set up by an amateur astronomer who is more than willing to share their passion. With the limited light pollution of the Grand Canyon, you will see more than you can imagine!
   
Accommodations: Grand Canyon South Rim Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Grand Canyon hike along the rim./Free Time/Grand Canyon Star Party
(Saturday, June 28)

Note: Optional one mile Guided history walk around Grand Canyon Village; Free afternoon to explore Grand Canyon; Return to Mather Point for another evening of the Grand Canyon Star Party



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Grand Canyon Lodge Cafe. Options include scrambled eggs, pancakes, french toast, sausage, bacon, oatmeal, fresh fruit, juices, milk, coffee and more.
 Morning: After breakfast. Go on a guided tour of the Grand Canyon Village Historic District, followed by free time to explore the village or walk along the rim or explore the canyon.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own at the Grand Canyon.
 Afternoon: Enjoy free time in the Canyon to explore on your own. Now is your chance to try a short hike into the canyon along the famed Bright angel Trail, take a park service shuttle to one of the majestic West Rim viewpoints, tour the many historic building and shops of the Grand Canyon Village, or just find a quiet place on the rim and contemplate this world wonder.
 Dinner: Dinner at the Cafe of our Grand Canyon lodge.
 Evening: After dinner will be the second of our two nights of the Grand Canyon Star Party. Begin with a talk relating to a current astonomical topic or related research. Once things get dark, stroll the parking lot of Mather Point on the South Rim where approximately 40 large telescopes are pointed at the skies above. Each telescope is set up by an amateur astronomer who is more than willing to share their passion. With the limited light pollution of the Grand Canyon, you will see more than you can imagine!
   
Accommodations: Grand Canyon South Rim Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Departure/Departure from Grand Canyon for return trip to Flagstaff
(Sunday, June 29)
   
 Depart From: Program ends in Flagstaff by 10:30 AM at the starting hotel after program wrap-up.
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Cafe of our Grand Canyon lodge. Options include scrambled eggs, pancakes, french toast, sausage, bacon, oatmeal, fresh fruit, juices, milk, coffee and more.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
 
  Flagstaff, AZ Flagstaff, AZ
.Points of Interest w/in 30 minutes of Flagstaff: Sinagua period ruins at Walnut Canyon and Wupatki National Monuments; Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument; the Native American artifacts and collections housed at the Museum of Northern Arizona, which also presents Native American performances and demonstrations; Downtown Flagstaff & old Route 66, Lowell Observatory, which discovered the planet Pluto. In the Oak Creek / Sedona area 1 hour south: Massive sandstone cliffs and riparian beauty of Oak Creek Canyon; Sedona red rock monoliths and the surrounding Secret Mountain Wilderness; Sedona’s fine art and jewelry galleries and its international cuisines; Sedona New Age vortex offerings, the Sinagua ruins at Montezuma’s Castle and Tuzigoot National Monuments, Jerome, AZ a mining ghost town. In other outlying areas: Hopi & Navajo Reservations, the Mary Colter designed La Posada Hotel / Restaurant at Winslow, AZ, Grand Canyon Railroad at Williams, AZ and the Grand Canyon National Park. For additional information, visit www.flagstaffarizona.org
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes


Author: Hawking, Stephen


Description: Hawking's discovery that black holes emit particles caused great excitement among astronomers. In this succinct overview of current theories of the cosmos, the Cambridge University physicist modestly weaves in his own notable contributions while giving due credit to his colleagues. He explains why relativity implies that a ``big bang'' occurred and examines string theory, which posits a universe of 10 or 26 dimensions. His understanding of time's flow leads him to conclude that intelligent beings can only exist during the expansion phase of our increasingly chaotic universe. New research on black holes and subatomic particles holds implications for scientists who, like Hawking, are attempting to devise a unified theory linking Einstein to quantum mechanics. The merit of this book is Hawking's ability to make these ideas graspable by the lay reader. Publisher's Weekly (April) 224pp



Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandries


Author: Tyson, Neil DeGrasse


Description: What would it feel like if your spaceship were to venture too close to the black hole lurking at the center of the Milky Way? According to astrophysicist Tyson, director of New York City's Hayden Planetarium, size does matter when it comes to black holes, although the chances of your surviving the encounter aren't good in any case. Tyson takes readers on an exciting journey from Earth's hot springs, where extremophiles flourish in hellish conditions, to the frozen, desolate stretches of the Oort Cloud and the universe's farthest reaches, in both space and time. Tyson doesn't restrict his musings to astrophysics, but wanders into related fields like relativity and particle physics, which he explains just as clearly as he does Lagrangian points, where we someday may park interplanetary filling stations. He tackles popular myths (is the sun yellow?) and takes movie directors most notably James Cameron to task for spectacular goofs. In the last section the author gives his take on the hot subject of intelligent design. Readers of Natural History magazine will be familiar with many of the 42 essays collected here, while newcomers will profit from Tyson's witty and entertaining description of being pulled apart atom by atom into a black hole, and other, closer-to-earth, and cheerier, topics. 9 illus. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information. 384pp



Foundations of Astronomy


Author: Seeds, Michael A


Description: New edition of a colorful textbook for introductory astronomy courses. It presents astronomy as a unified system of understanding that relates the student's personal experience to the basic processes in the universe. This edition includes new discoveries and hypotheses as well as the more gradual changes in understanding among astronomers concerning such things as black holes, dark matter, and the geology of Venus. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com) 736pp Biography: Mike Seeds is Professor, Emeritus of Astronomy at Franklin and Marshall College, where he has taught since 1970. His research interests have focused on peculiar variable stars and the automation of astronomical telescopes. He extended his research by serving as the principal astronomer in charge of the Phoenix 10, the first fully robotic telescope, located in southern Arizona.



Islands in the Sky: Bold New Ideas for Colonizing Space


Author: Schmidt, Stanley


Description: "Let the meek inherit the earth—the rest of us are going to the stars! Here's how it's going to be done." — Robert Zubrin "These articles are not 'just science fiction.' They are things we can do—and with any luck at all, and vision and determination, we will." — Stanley Schmidt Take off on a thrilling journey of space exploration and speculation—to the realm where science fiction becomes science fact—as leading writers, researchers, and astronautic engineers describe a not-too-distant future of interstellar travel and colonization. From cable cars that ride "skyhooks" into space to rockets that can refuel out of Martian air, from "terraforming" planets (a process that makes them habitable for human life) to faster-than-light propulsion systems, Islands in the Sky offers an astonishing collection of challenging—and plausible—ideas and proposals from the pages of Analog magazine. Brilliant and provocative, here is fun-filled reading for everyone interested in science, technology, and the future. 276pp Biography: STANLEY SCHMIDT, Ph.D., is the Editor of Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact magazine, for which he has received 16 Hugo Award nominations. He is the author of four novels, including Lifeboat Earth and Newton and the Quasi-Apple, and is a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Space Society.



Planetary Dreams: The Quest to Discover Life Beyond Earth


Author: Shapiro, Robert


Description: The surprisingly long history of debate over extraterrestrial life is full of marvelous visions of what life "out there" might be like, as well as remarkable stories of alleged sightings and heated disputes about the probability that life might actually have arisen more than once. In Planetary Dreams, acclaimed author Robert Shapiro explores this rich history of dreams and debates in search of the best current answers to the most elusive and compelling of all questions: Are we alone? Planetary Dreams offers a thoughtful and entertaining exploration of both the history of our hopes and expectations and a vision of a possible future in which the discovery of life elsewhere will provide a new view of our place in the universe. 306pp



The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory


Author: Greene, Brian


Description: A new edition of the New York Times bestseller—now a three-part Nova special: a fascinating and thought-provoking journey through the mysteries of space, time, and matter. 464pp



The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet


Author: Neil DeGrasse Tyson


Description: From Pluto's 1930 discovery to the emotional reaction worldwide to its demotion from planetary status, astrophysicist, science popularizer and Hayden Planetarium director deGrasse Tyson (Death by Black Hole) offers a lighthearted look at the planet. Astronomical calculations predicted the presence of a "mysterious and distant Planet X" decades before Clyde Tombaugh spotted it in 1930. DeGrasse Tyson speculates on why straw polls show Pluto to be the favorite planet of American elementary school students (for one, "Pluto sounds the most like a punch line to a hilarious joke"). But Pluto's rock and ice composition, backward rotation and problematic orbit raised suspicions. As the question of Pluto's nature was definitively relegated Pluto to the icy realm of Kuiper Belt Objects (cold, distant leftovers from the solar system's being debated by scientists, the newly constructed Rose Center for Earth and Space at the Hayden Planetarium quietly but formation), raising a firestorm. Astronomers discussed and argued and finally created an official definition of what makes a planet. This account, if a bit Tyson-centric, presents the medicine of hard science with a sugarcoating of lightness and humor. 35 color and 10 b&w illus. (Jan.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. 194pp



The Theory of Everything


Author: Hawking, Stephen


Description: Hawking takes readers on a fascinating journey through the telescopic lens of modern physics to gain a new glimpse of the universe--the nature of black holes, the space-time continuum, and new information about the origin of the universe. 132pp



The Whole Shebang: A State-of-the-Universe(s)


Author: Timothy Ferris


Description: From the prizewinning author who has been called "the greatest science writer in the world" comes this delightfully comprehensive and comprehensible report on how science today envisions the universe as a whole. Timothy Ferris provides a clear, elegantly written overview of current research and a forecast of where cosmological theory is likely to go in the twenty-first century. He explores the questions that have occurred to even casual readers — who are curious about nature on the largest scales: What does it mean to say that the universe is "expanding," or that space is "curved"? — and sheds light on the possibility that our universe is only one among many universes, each with its own physical laws and prospects for the emergence of life. 400pp





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