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Binge Watching Science Webcasts! Celebrating Twelve Years of the NASA Goddard Lecture Series at the Library of Congress

This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference & Research Specialist, in the Science, Technology, and Business Division of the Library of Congress. She is also author of the blog posts “Kebabs, Kabobs, Shish Kebabs, Shashlyk, and: Chislic,” “The Potato Transformed,” and “Susan Fenimore Cooper: The First American Woman to Publish Nature Writing.”

Parker Solar Probe in Front of Sun. Courtesy of NASA http://parkersolarprobe.jhuapl.edu/Multimedia/ApprovedMedia/Images/Renderings/originals/PSP-inFrontOfSun.jpg

The Science, Technology, and Business Division at the Library is in its twelfth year of partnering with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, in presenting space and earth sciences lectures.  I thought it might be interesting to look back at the beginnings of this series to see how it came about and tempt you with the many webcasts of these programs available for viewing.

I reached out to my retired colleague, Peg Clifton, to ask her how the collaboration was born.  She wasn’t sure what year the discussions began, but a friend of hers from the Library’s Geography and Maps Division had received a call from Jeannie Allen, the education outreach contractor for NASA, inquiring about the Library possibly taking on their speakers’ series. The lectures had been at the Smithsonian Institution, but the museum had decided they wanted to charge admission and NASA wanted them to remain free.  Peg consulted with the chief of our division, Ron Bluestone, who liked the idea, so they met with Jeannie and some other NASA folks and set the stage for bringing the series here.

At first Peg and others went to Goddard to see presentations and talk about how our series could be tailored to non-scientists and general audiences, as well as those who might have more background. The first lectures were planned, and as time passed, they became a big success.  Normally, in the autumn, Jeannie would solicit proposals and descriptions of the talks from the Goddard scientists, and we would make the choices.  The hardest part for us then, and now, was nailing down a date with these busy scientists, many of whom are running missions and traveling the world for work and conferences. Then we need to get a room booked at the Library, which has hundreds of programs, on one of the few dates the scientists have open.  For publicity, staffer Jennifer Harbster began doing promotions in our RSS feed and writing a blog post on the upcoming lecture for the division’s Inside Adams blog.  Flyers posted around the Library were designed by science research specialist Alison Kelly.  Each one has been eye-catching and we’ve collected them in a three volume “scrapbook” for our division, many autographed by the scientist.

NASA Lecture Series Flyers

An important task on the Library’s side of the collaboration is featuring items on the topics of the lectures to show the wealth of our science collections.  Science research specialist Sean Bryant, who coordinates this series with me, pulls together a display of print materials for each lecture.  The scientists have been very impressed seeing extremely old books, articles or book chapters they’ve written, as well as books they haven’t seen.  Sean also creates a handout for each lecture that gives an introduction to the scientist, along with a short list of books on the subject and some NASA websites.

Jason P. Dworkin, Chief of Astrochemistry and Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference Librarian

If you want to look through the twelve years of talks and find some lectures to watch, we maintain a list on our Science, Technology, and Business website at: //www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/events/events.html#webcasts.  There are lectures going back to 2001, but the first of the NASA series was in January 2007, “Who Left the Freezer Door Open? What the Poles are Telling Us about Climate Change.”  There were only two lectures that year, and then we expanded to four, then six, and now eight. There are usually so many good proposals that it’s hard to choose, so one year we just took them all!  And we heard from our former liaison there, Lora Bleacher, the scientists act as if they’ve won the lottery when they’re chosen!  These brilliant people are truly ‘down to earth’ and they love getting their stories out to the public.

Last year we had a couple of blockbusters.  First, in June there was “The 2017 Total Solar Eclipse: Through the Eyes of NASA” with solar researcher Alex Young (He will be giving his third lecture here on December 6, “The Science of Space:  Heliophysics and the Parker Solar Probe.”  He’s not to be missed!).  In September space scientist Conor Nixon talked about “Cassini’s Grand Finale” a week before the mission ended and Cassini plunged into Saturn’s atmosphere and disintegrated.  We have learned about gravitational waves (before the Nobel Prize), Venus, exoplanets, icy volcanoes, missions to Pluto, Jupiter, and Mars, and a mission to collect the first samples from an asteroid. We’ve also heard about earth sciences missions, such as detecting landslides, wildfires, and global water reservoirs using satellite monitoring.

The lectures will resume in September, with four to round out the year.  In October we’ll be asking our new Goddard contact, Trena Ferrell, to gather proposals for the 2019 series.  We often request topics that interest us or have been suggested by attendees.  Last year we had an offer from a scientist to speak about TESS, The Transiting Exoplanet Satellite Survey, and we’ll ask for her now that the mission to search for more exoplanets has finally launched.

You will notice webcasts on the list of many other programs which are not from the NASA series, but be sure to look through those to see if something else interests you. Have fun learning from some of the world’s foremost scientists!

 

Lecture with NASA’s Dr. Sarah Jones, June 7: “The Upper Atmosphere: Where Space Weather Meets Earth Weather”

This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference Librarian in the Science, Technology, and Business Division. The dance between the ionosphere and the thermosphere is complicated!  At the boundary between Earth and space, charged particles and fields co-exist with Earth’s neutral atmosphere and cause a continual tug of war between the neutral and ionized […]

Using Space-Based Observations for Improved Global Water Security and Sustainability: May 15 Lecture with NASA’s Dr. John Bolten

This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference Librarian in the Science, Technology, and Business Division. The combined stresses of overpopulation, water pollution, and poor water management practices require new approaches to better assess and manage global water security and sustainability. Dr. John Bolten will review the technological advances in satellite-based remote sensing and numerical […]

NASA Astrophysicist Dr. Scott Guzewich to Discuss ‘Swimming in Martian Lakes: Curiosity at Gale Crater’ on April 25

This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference Librarian in the Science, Technology, and Business Division. NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission landed the nuclear powered rover Curiosity on the floor of the 96-mile wide Gale Crater on August 6, 2012.  In a complicated maneuver using a sky crane, it touched down near “Mount Sharp,” […]

Finding Our Origins with the Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes: Lecture with NASA’s Dr. Jonathan Gardner, March 22

This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference Librarian in the Science, Technology, and Business Division. The Hubble, the first space-based optical telescope, has been circling the Earth and making observations for nearly 28 years since its launch in April 1990.  Just this week it has had its eye on a relic galaxy, NGC […]

What’s for Lunch: 2018 Earth and Space Science Talks at the Library of Congress, Sponsored by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the ST&B Division

Lecture series coordinators Sean Bryant and Stephanie Marcus, Science, Technology and Business Division, contributed to this blog post. With March just around the corner, we are preparing to kick off our annual Earth and Space Science lecture series, now in its twelfth year.  The series is a partnership between the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center […]

How “Shop Class” Helped Win the War: The “Model Aircraft Project” of World War II

This post was written by Michelle Cadoree Bradley, a Science Reference Specialist in the Science, Technology and Business Division. In the collections of the Library of Congress, there are thousands of books in red buckram binding. These fairly innocuous exteriors can sometimes hide unique items. One such item from the stacks is the book Model Aircraft Project from […]

“To explore strange new worlds…” NASA’s Dr. Padi Boyd Speaks about Exoplanets on November 2

This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference Librarian in the Science, Technology, and Business Division. Dr. Padi Boyd, Chief of the Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics Laboratory at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, will speak at the Library of Congress about the thousands of planets discovered beyond our solar system and the evolving view […]

Fly Me to the Moon: Celebrating the moon with a display of fiber art in the Science & Business Reading Room beginning October 3, 2017

This post was authored by Nanette Gibbs, Business Reference Librarian, and Sean Bryant, Science Reference Librarian, of the Science, Technology, and Business Division. To celebrate the moon, the Science & Business Reading Room will have a display of prints beginning October 3, 2017, highlighting the works of fiber artists featured in the newly published book, […]

Cassini’s Grand Finale: September 7 Lecture with NASA’s Dr. Conor Nixon

This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference Librarian in the Science, Technology, and Business Division. Now that we’ve had the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse, it’s time to move on to the next big event on NASA’s calendar, and that is the Grand Finale of the Cassini-Huygens Mission, a cooperative project of NASA, the […]