Launch Pad is an education/public outreach effort supplementing Mike Brotherton’s space-based astronomical research.  Our primary goal is to teach writers, editors, and creative professionals about modern science, specifically astronomy, and in turn reach their large and diverse audiences. We hope to both educate the public and inspire the next generation of scientists.

Lecturers include University of Wyoming professor and author Michael S. Brotherton, PhD., Christian Ready, Jim Verley, and often additional Wyoming astronomy faculty members.

Selection criteria

Selection will be based in part on audience size as demonstrated through print runs, downloads, or sales figures when available. Other considerations will include the content and potential of applicant work; to what extent science in general and astronomy in particular are likely to be a significant factor in their future publications. Applicants should address these points when they apply.

We also give consideration to writers who may have additional promise in reaching diverse groups less represented in both the physical sciences and hard science fiction. We are welcome and inclusive to all participants.

Lodging and travel

For 2021, we will provide lodging at a local motel with easy access to both downtown Laramie and the University campus where most Launch Pad activities will transpire. Daily meals will be provided as part of the program.

We currently have grant support for participant costs other than travel to Denver (from where we will shuttle you to Laramie). Attendees may also plan to travel to Laramie independently if they choose, and additional drivers are always welcome.  The instructors are volunteers and not paid.

Evaluations from attendees

We give participants pre- and post-tests in astronomy every year, as well as evaluation forms for more general feedback. Recent evaluations indicated an overall high satisfaction with the workshop, individual presenters, and the overall organization (>85% satisfaction). They also indicated through the survey instrument that they greatly increased their astronomy content knowledge and their ability to recognize misconceptions (this number was 85% if one very knowledgeable outlier is excluded). There was a high positive response (>85%) to their newly developed awareness of and interest in the educational implications of their work. The response was 100% positive when asked if the workshop was worthwhile, met their expectations, and whether they would recommend it to others. Some typical comments were: ‘…wonderful collegiate atmosphere’, ‘I don’t know how to thank you’, ‘Lots of very cool science, great presentations’, and ‘…presentation of material, top notch.’

Additional Information about the University of Wyoming

  • UW campus map
  • UW building accessibility guide
    • The observatories (STAR, RBO, and WIRO) are not listed on the buildings page.  Two of the observatories require climbing between 4 steps (WIRO) and a full flight (STAR); RBO has an access ramp.
    • Some years, about 2/3 of the participants also go on a 2-hour hike at Vedauwoo state park. One of the trails there is wheelchair accessible.

Participants sign an agreement to abide by a version of UW’s student code of conduct form. This is required for those staying on campus and represents a streamlined version of the full student code of conduct.

Next Mission
May 22-28, 2022
Launch Origin
University of Wyoming
Laramie, WY
Apply Now!