This is not WIRO, but the view was similar.

This is not WIRO, but the view was similar.

Last summer, I had the pleasure attending the Launchpad Workshop in Laramie, Wyoming.  Launchpad is an intense one-week course in astronomy and space science with the intent of improving scientific literacy.

Some of you may remember my blog post about my Launchpad experience. Mike Brotherton has done a superb job securing grant money for the program in the past. But this year, the grants were just too hard to secure.  So this year you have to pay $500 to attend.  And that’s a steal.  Here’s why:

They pick you up and drop you off at the Denver airport.  It’s a two hour drive to Laramie. Plus they drive you around all week: to a hike, to restaurants, to the observatory.  Now that’s service!

They feed you. Besides the many fascinating lectures on astronomy, the other thing that stands out in my mind is how much food we were given.  Never a moment went by when I didn’t think to myself, Hm. Hansel and Gretel ate like this too….

They put you up in the campus dorms. I had my own room, with a beautiful view of the Laramie hills. I watched the sun rise every morning. I had free internet access, a fridge, my own personal space to retreat to in the evenings.  It was clean, spacious, and fun feeling like I was back in college.

Because it’s worth it. There was a moment when we stood atop the mountain at the WIRO observatory where Christian Ready pointed out the center of the Milky Way galaxy to me. There have been few times in my life when I have seen that many stars.  No longer did the sky feel like a planetarium, a celestial sphere a few dozen light-years out from Earth. For the first time in my life I really sensed the three-dimensionality of the universe, and I saw how miniscule we really are in comparison to the cosmic grandeur.  This did not frighten me, but instead filled me with an indescribable sense of awe.  For me, the workshop was worth it just for this moment.

If you want to know more about the Launchpad Workshop, you can read my blog post about it here.  Or you can hear about it in Mike Brotherton’s words.

Here’s the info on applying for 2013.

Happy stargazing.