Dr. Phil Plait is an astronomer and a very popular science communicator. His blog, Bad Astronomy, “covers the entire universe, from subatomic particles to the Big Bang itself, astronomy, space exploration, and the effect of politics on science.” Like many young astronomers, Phil’s interest in astronomy ignited when he first saw Saturn and its rings through a telescope. He earned his Ph.D. working on the study of supernovae with the Hubble Space Telescope. We chatted about his career, his enduring work in amateur astronomy with his telescope, his love for science communication, why people who don’t believe in the Apollo moon landings are wrong, the study of a potentially dangerous asteroid or comet collision with Earth, how climate change is affecting us, and the recent discovery of a nearby solar system with Earth-like planets.
The history of space flight is amazing, especially when you take into account the vast distances between planets and the complex flight paths spacecraft take to get to their otherworldly destinations. Pop Chart Lab does a great job of showing what humans have accomplished in their beautiful Chart of Cosmic Exploration. The 39-inch by 27-inch color print details the routes for about 100 different craft that have gone to the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. The print costs US$38 and you can pick it up at the Pop Chart Lab website.