Well-wishers have two more days to send special birthday greetings to renowned science fiction author Ray Bradbury on the occasion of his 83rd birthday and the closest approach of Mars in almost 60000 years on August 27, a date The Planetary Society has proclaimed Mars Day.
The public can join thousands from around the world who have already sent birthday greetings to Bradbury by submitting their messages at The Planetary Society’s website.
The Planetary Society honored Bradbury with a party on Saturday, August 23 where film director Peter Hyams presented Bradbury with a giant 15-foot long card that included birthday greetings [listed below] from such luminaries as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Buzz Aldrin and many more. Actors Nichelle Nichols and Angie Dickinson were on hand to offer their personal best wishes to Bradbury. Following the party, over 150 guests of The Planetary Society visited Mt. Wilson to view Mars through a 60" telescope.
"Mars never disappoints us -- we are fascinated by it as a destination for exploration and as a source of creative inspiration," said Louis Friedman, Executive Director of The Planetary Society. "We will celebrate and witness this exploration again in four months at a special event called Planetfest, when five spacecraft arrive at Mars from Earth."
The Society has organized an international Mars Watch. Bruce Betts, the Society Director of Projects, called it a great success with 250 events worldwide for participants to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at star parties, programs and festivals.
To participate, the public can log into the Society's website for a listing of events and for information on how to view Mars from their own backyards. The web site also includes information on when Mars rises and sets at different locations around the world, hands-on activities for children, an international Mars Art Contest, and more.
Now appearing bright gold in the evening sky, Mars will be at perihelic opposition on August 27, which means that the planet is at a point in its orbit when it is both closest to the Sun and to the Earth. Greater detail than usual on the planet's surface can be discerned through telescopes, and the planet will appear brighter in the night sky to the naked eye.
The Planetary Society's Mars Watch celebrations will culminate January 2-4, 2004 at Planetfest in Pasadena, California, where thousands are expected to attend a weekend festival and witness the first Mars Exploration Rover landers touchdown on the Martian surface.
SELECTED BIRTHDAY GREETINGS
You have always been a "ray" of light and hope in a world often absent of imagination. You challenge our linear thinking and, for those of us who have lived out of the box, what first got us there can often be traced to your long and short works of science fiction and fantasy. Happy birthday! Love, Steven Spielberg
Isn't it fitting that Mars should be so close to Earth for your 83rd birthday. You've been an inspiration to us all. Happy Birthday! George Lucas and all your friends at Lucasfilm
Warmest birthday wishes at light-speed to a true American icon, a visionary and a genius. You are the rarest of gems, Ray, and it has been one of my great privileges to know you. Apollo 11 Astronaut Buzz Aldrin
Even in this time of everyday wonders, I still dream of the silver rockets of my youth, kept eternally alive in the imagination by your wondrous prose. Thank you for opening that window in my mind. My best wishes to you for a happy birthday, and the continued birth of your glorious dreams. James Cameron
You are the master, you are the source. I have had no greater honor or privilege than spending time with you and bringing your breathtaking imagination to the screen. Keep eating steak and drinking wine for lunch. Happy Birthday. Peter Hyams
Fahrenheit 451 is a temperature which will burn flesh. However, it's not nearly as hot as its author. You have engulfed us with, oh, so many other classics. But Ray, you're not just an author ... you're an institution!! I love Bradbury the man, the artist, the visionary…and as a fledgling sci-fi author, I am so very proud to have lived in your shadow. Nichelle Nichols
Birthday greetings to you, Ray, who articulates so movingly why we explore space, and keeps challenging us not to lose that vision. Thanks so much. Love, Bruce Murray, Chairman of the Board, The Planetary Society