There are some books, movies, etc. that we like the most. I gathered our panelists favourites in 5 categories: favourite book, favourite work of fiction, favourite documentary, best source of astronomy/space news and initiative worth supporting. Warm welcome to our new panelist: Andrew Rader, a SpaceX engineer.
Nancy Atkinson (Senior Editor for Universe Today, Host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast & a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador)
Best source of astronomy/space news: Well, obviously, I’m biased when I say “Universe Today!” But other than UT, I’d have to say Twitter. All the people and organizations I follow really are the best source for news, images and space oddities.
Initiative worth supporting: Cosmoquest for space education and citizen science and the B612 Foundation for actually doing something to protect our world.
Andrew Rader (SpaceX engineer, MIT PhD, author)
Favourite book: “Peter the Great” by Robert K. Massie. About how one person can change a whole society through sheer willpower.Favourite work of fiction: Work of fiction as a whole “Star Trek”. A positive vision of humans in space.Favourite documentary: Tie between “From the Earth to the Moon” and “Planet Earth”. Where we’re from and where we’re going.Best source of astronomy/space news: Best astronomy news: Kepler mission and the search for exoplanets.
Nicole Gugliucci (“Noisy astronomer”, blogger, educator, post-doc)
Book and Work of fiction: “Contact”! That movie was very inspirational for me when I was still in school and made me realize that I could become an astronomer. I even went into radio astronomy later on!Documentary: Not sure I have a favorite at the moment. I like to watch a lot of animal documentaries rather than astronomy ones! “Planet Earth” is my favorite.Source of space news: I get most of my space news right from the press release list managed by the American Astronomical Society. But my favorite reporting comes from Universe Today.Initiative: Not sure I have one. I’m really looking forward to see what SpaceX is doing, though.
Robert Novella (co-founder and vice-president of New England Skeptical Society, co-host of Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe)
Favourite book: “Coming of Age in the Milky Way” by Timothy Ferris is among my favorite astronomy books. Ferris’ well written history of the people who made the earliest advances in astronomy was like reading an adventure novel that just captivated my attention. It made me appreciate not just cutting edge astronomy but the path we took to get there.Favourite work of fiction: “Star Trek” is the obvious choice for this one. It’s so iconic. That fact that it’s still on the cultural radar after almost half a century is a testament to the chord it strikes in every generation.Favourite documentary: The series “Cosmos” certainly belongs in this list, both the original and the reboot. The former though was among the earliest and most powerful influences on my interest in astronomy and science in general. Sagan is, to this day, the gold standard all science popularizers should strive for.Best source of space/astronomy news: Bad Astronomy and Universe Today are my go-to astronomy/space news sites. Don’t make me choose between those two.Initiative worth supporting: One initiative I’d love to see serious progress on is nuclear rocket propulsion. It seems like a no-brainer that this is the next phase of rocket technology. Nuclear energy densities exceed those of chemical energy by many orders of magnitude. Manned missions would be far less expensive and take less than half the time.I hope I live long enough to see this one day.
“Peter the Great” by Robert K. Massie
“The Overview Effect” by Frank White
“Coming of Age in the Milky Way” by Timothy Ferris
“From the Earth to the Moon”
“Cosmos” (original / reboot)