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, and often additional Wyoming astronomy faculty members or graduate students.

Selection criteria

Selection will be based in part on audience size as demonstrated through print runs, downloads, or sales figures when available. Please tell us if your work has landed on bestseller lists or won awards.  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, meals, and travel

Workshop participants will stay in a University dormitory and eat in a University dining hall, the cost of which will be subsidized by Launch Pad.  Embrace your inner college student!  This option, along with free classrooms and labs, helps keeps costs down.

We also cover travel between Laramie, WY and the Denver airport, which is usually easier and cheaper to reach.  Participants are also welcome to drive their own vehicles to Laramie, and we will cover parking expenses.

The instructors are volunteers and not paid.  We are non-profit.  We do all we can to cover participant expenses on a modest budget.

Evaluations from attendees

We have given participants pre and post-tests in astronomy is past years, 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, 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
July 1-7, 2024
Launch Origin
University of Wyoming
Laramie, WY
Apply Now!