Our Guest of Honour is Dr. Philip Plait:
Philip Cary Plait (born September 30, 1964), also known as The Bad Astronomer, is an American astronomer, skeptic, writer and popular science blogger. Plait has worked as part of the Hubble Space Telescope team, images and spectra of astronomical objects, as well as engaging in public outreach advocacy for NASA missions. He has written two books, Bad Astronomy and Death from the Skies. He has also appeared in several science documentaries, including Phil Plait’s Bad Universe on the Discovery Channel. From August 2008 through 2009, he served as President of the James Randi Educational Foundation. Additionally, he wrote and hosted episodes of Crash Course Astronomy, which aired its last episode in 2016.
- Plait, Philip; Weinersmith, Zach (2013). Nerd Disses: A Significant Quantity of Disrespect. ASIN B00GI25TSC.
- Plait, Philip (2008). Death from the Skies!: These are the Ways the World Will End. Viking Press. ISBN 978-0-670-01997-7.
- Plait, Philip (2002). Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing “Hoax”. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-40976-6.
Awards and Honors
- The 2007 Weblog Awards – Bad Astronomy was awarded “Best Science Blog,” having tied with Climate Audit.
- In March 2008, Plait had an asteroid named after him by the late astronomer Jeff Medkeff. Asteroid 2000 WG11 was renamed 165347 Philplait.
- In 2009, Bad Astronomy was named among Time.com’s 25 Best Blogs.
- In 2013, Plait received the National Capital Area Skeptics’ Philip J. Klass Award
- In 2016, Plait was awarded the David N. Schramm Award for High Energy Astrophysics Science Journalism by the American Astronomical Society for his 2015 article entitled “A Supermassive Black Hole’s Fiery and Furious Wind.”
Our Special Guests will include:
Dr. Christa van Laerhoven
Holds a postdoctoral fellow at UBC, gained her PhD from the Department of Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona in May 2014. She holds a B.Sc. from UBC in Physics and Astronomy (Honours), and was the ex-president of the UBC Physics Society. She is interested in orbital dynamics in general, and that of multi-planet extra-solar systems in particular. She is an OSIRIS-REx Ambassador, and a panelist on reddit.com’s AskScience.
Dr. van Laerhoven is also an active member of the RASC: Yukon Centre.
After receiving a Tasco refracting telescope for Christmas 1984, Pierre joined the French Centre of Montreal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada in 1987. There, he became Librarian (1990–1992), Councillor (1992), Secretary (1992), and eventually President (1993). He then left it to found the Polaris Amateur Astronomers Club (1993–2001). He joined the Laval Amateur Astronomers Club in 2008, of which he was Vice-President in 2010-11. In September 2012, he also joined the Montreal Planetarium Astronomical Society and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s Montreal Centre (English) for a few years.
Within the Quebec Amateur Astronomers Federation, he was Secretary in 1994 and again from 2010 to 2014, and has been the Editor of the QAAF’s AstroInfo newsletter since 2003.
Pierre was an animator in the E‑Toiles Astronomy Club (2004–12), National Coordinator for Canada of Astronomers Without Borders (2010–12), and member of IDA Quebec from 2010 to 2013 (he had also taken part in a “Dark Sky Committee” of the QAAF, basically an ancestor of IDA Quebec, in 1994).
Pierre launched an e‑newsletter called La Veillée de nuit (“Night Vigil”) for the LAAC in the spring of 2010, then opened it to other amateur astronomers in March 2011. It eventually became Astronomie-Québec in June 2012, the name of a former paper magazine published by the QAAF, then Les Éditions astronomiques, whose former owners were kind enough to let Pierre use the name to publish a free PDF every second month.