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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Announcing Space Ranch 2014

By Phil Plait

Note: This post is a plug for my company, Science Getaways. But I think, as a discerning, intelligent, and very good-looking reader of Bad Astronomy, you will find this relevant to your interests. Literally.

Let me ask you: Do you like science? Do you like to take vacations? Do you want the chance to look at the sky through a big telescope, talk to an actual real-life astronaut, and find out what itâs like to hunt for meteorites all over the world?

If you answered âduhâ to any or all of those questions, then do I have good news for you: Announcing Space Ranch 2014, a science-infused vacation to Tucson, Ariz.!

My wife and I run a company called Science Getaways, where we take normal vacations and add SCIENCE. Our philosophy is to create the kind of vacation weâd like to go on ourselves: cool locations, interesting scenery, and a chance to learn about the world and Universe around us.

Our next getaway, Space Ranch 2014, will be at the lovely Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson from Feb. 27âMarch 3. Our special guest speakers this time are three-time astronaut Charlie Walker and meteorite hunter Geoff Notkin. Iâve known Charlie and Geoff for a few years now, and both are lively, fun, and engaging gents, with a lot of great stories to tell. Charlie will regale us with tales of living in space and what itâs like to be a NASA astronaut. Geoff was host for Discovery Channelâs Meteorite Men and will have plenty of space rocks on hand to show you.

Iâm also really excited about our field trip this year: Weâll be heading up nearby Mt. Lemmon to visit the University of Arizonaâs SkyCenter, a working scientific observatory. Itâs run by my friend and astronomer Adam Block (an accomplished and award-winning astrophotographer; his images have graced my blog many, many times), and get this: Weâll actually get to use the 81 cm (32â) Schulman telescope, the largest dedicated public telescope in the Southwest! Weather permitting, weâll peer through the giant 'scope at Jupiter, the Orion nebula, star clusters, nebulae, and much more. Iâll admit it: Getting a chance to see Jupiter with this instrument has me pretty excited. Itâll be amazing.

On top of all that, there are lots of ranch activities like horseback riding, hiking (with a naturalist along to talk about the ecosystem around you), mountain biking, tennis, and more. Itâs an all-inclusive ranch, which means three meals and all the activities are included in the daily rate. Iâll also have a telescope handy, and every clear night Iâll have that out so we can check out the dark Arizona skies as well. I'll be your personal guide to the sky above you.

You can get all the info at the Space Ranch 2014 page, including how to register. Slots are pretty limited for this getaway, and our last one to the volcanoes of Oregon sold out in just a few days. Consider that a broad hint.

I hope to see you in Arizona!

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