First — congratulations to the OSIRIS REx Team for their successful “tag” of asteroid Bennu! As you may know, this asteroid mission is headquartered here in Tucson at the University of Arizona. Several members of the mission have worked closely with us; some have been scientific collaborations with Fr. Kikwaya and myself, they have given our Faith and Astronomy Workshop participants tours of the headquarters, and their spokesperson Dolores Hill was the keynote speaker at our annual seminar in February. The mission was the brainchild of the late Dr. Mike Drake, and I was Mike’s first graduate student, a (cough) few years back. After Mike’s sad death, Dr. Dante Lauretta took over the mission; his PhD director was my friend Bruce Fegley, whom I knew when we were undergraduates together at MIT.
It’s a small world. But then, so’s Bennu.
The other big news for us at the Specola here in Tucson this month — besides the fact that I now need a sweater to go out for my morning walks, even though the temperature is still over 90 during the daytime — is that finally Fr. David Brown has been able to join us here from Rome.
Ever since he got his doctorate at Oxford, David has been working in Castel Gandolfo; but as his research projects have grown and evolved, it became clear that the time was ripe for him to move to Tucson, with access to both our telescope and to the other astronomers at Steward Observatory. He was supposed to be here this spring, but…
Want to know more about him? He’ll be the guest at our “Moonthly” Meet Up on Saturday, October 31, at 10am Tucson Time/1pm EDT. We’ll provide a link, a week ahead of time, to our Sacred Space subscribers.
Speaking of subscribers… our numbers grew to 217 over the past month, but now is the time of year when a lot of subscribers are cleared from the system so that drop off will be reflected in our count next month. Be sure that your credit card is current if you want to keep getting access to these posts, and the Moonthly Meetups. Thanks!
Meanwhile, we now have 10,486 people who get notified of new postings, net increase of about 50 new readers… welcome to all of you. Tell more people about our site! And if you can, please join the Sacred Space gang at a rate of $10 a month (if you’re like me, you’re trying to shed those Covid pounds by cutting back on at least that much in coffee and donuts every week!) or $100 per year.
Also, just a reminder, it’s always worth keeping an eye on the Coyne Memorial, as more memories are added all the time. And for those of you who like round numbers, I note that we are only $121 shy of reaching $70,000! When we hit $100,000 we’ll publish these reflections as a part of a book of George’s most notable popular articles and scientific papers.
These diaries are designed for our supporters, and so I like to include some “inside baseball” news about our doings here. This month, in honor of David Brown’s shifting home home base, I thought I would describe a bit about how we decide among the dozen astronomers at the Observatory who lives where. It’s one of the trickier jobs that I have as director. Obviously, some decisions are easy… Bob Macke is the curator of meteorites, the meteorites are in Castel Gandolfo, and so that’s where Bob is. But in other cases, it’s not quite so obvious. Yes, we have the telescope here in Tucson; but Tucson also has the advantage of having one of the largest populations of active astronomers in the world, with several hundred of them working at both the Lunar and Planetary Lab and the Steward Observatory of the University of Arizona, plus the non-profit Planetary Science Institute, just to name the major players. So why wouldn’t everyone want to join the gang here? The reasons can be personal, professional, and political… and historical…
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