Bill NyeJun 08, 2018

Reaching Higher for Space

We humans have always looked to the night sky and pondered our place in the cosmos. Indeed, the power of the stars to inspire and transform us stretches deep into our mythic past when constellations framed our understanding of the universe.

Each of us remembers when we first felt that profound connection to the cosmos and the tug of exploration and discovery. For me, it was when I first looked through my father’s home-built telescope on a clear night. Seeing the shadowed craters and mountains of the Moon and then the striking rings of Saturn changed me. I would be forever looking farther and deeper, reaching to discover more about the worlds around us.

One of those discoveries turned out to be The Planetary Society. I joined as a Charter member at the very beginning. It was the perfect place for me to explore those two greatest questions: Where did we come from? And are we alone in the universe? My affiliation with The Society has become part of a wonderful journey. First, I joined. Then, I joined the Board, then I became Vice President, and then, upon the retirement of Executive Director, Louis Friedman, I became Chief Executive Officer.

Our founders photograph
Our founders photograph A favorite photo of mine: Bruce Murray, Carl Sagan, and Louis Friedman during the early days of The Planetary Society.Image: The Planetary Society

Just as my professor and Society co-founder, Carl Sagan, inspired me to join, fellow Board member, Wally Hooser, influenced me to consider making a deeper commitment to my philanthropic relationship with the Society. Wally’s career as a medical doctor seems, to me at least, to have also prepared him for a second career as a philanthropist, both personally as well as through the family Foundation, which he serves as Chairman Emeritus—The M.R. and Evelyn Hudson Foundation. Through my own gifts to The Society, which have grown over the years, I have discovered that the act of giving resonates in ways I’ve never before experienced. It allows me to help build something that will not only be meaningful, but long-lasting as well.

That’s why I’m so excited that, together, Wally and I have created the Reach Higher Challenge. We would like to encourage you—the members of the Society—to share in this same experience of securing the future of exploration and discovery. With your gift, you will be honoring your own deep calling to explore while at the same time helping to reach thousands, even millions, of others around the world to connect with space exploration and the hopeful future that it promises. We’re going to space, and the process of getting there will change us, all of us, just as I was changed in that first moment looking through my father’s telescope.

At the eclipse in Beatrice, Nebraska
At the eclipse in Beatrice, Nebraska Always looking up: the total solar eclipse of 2017. Amazing!Image: The Planetary Society

For this Challenge, I am personally pledging to match up to $50,000 of new or increased gifts to the Society. Wally and the Hudson Foundation are one-upping me, though, with the hope of getting all of you to reach even higher by matching up to $100,000 of new or increased gifts of $1,000 or more. So, through the Challenge, you have the opportunity to either double or triple your gift!

I encourage you to pause for a moment, to remember again that first encounter with the cosmos, and to consider your own role in helping to create a hopeful future for humans in space.  And then, I invite you to join us.

Ad astra,

Bill Nye


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