Nicole N. BarnesJul 21, 2022

Slowly returning to in-person member events

Bill and members at the Smithsonian
Bill and members at the Smithsonian The Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye and members at the Smithsonian's FUTURES Exhibit under our 1/16 scale model LightSail 2.Image: Jason Dixon for The Planetary Society

Like so many other member organizations, The Planetary Society hit pause on in-person member events in early 2020 as a global pandemic began — and then raged on.

Now, more than two years later, we are working our way back out into the world with select in-person member engagement opportunities. We couldn’t be more thrilled to see many of you out there!

Recently, staff and volunteers had the chance to reunite with Planetary Society members for three events — one at Imperial College London on May 23, another at the Pasadena Convention Center on June 11, and then at the Smithsonian and the National Mall on June 25. Below you’ll find photos and recaps of these events.

Mat Kaplan at Planetary Radio Live in London
Mat Kaplan at Planetary Radio Live in London Planetary Radio host Mat Kaplan with a special panel of guests at Planetary Radio Live in London. From left to right: Mat Kaplan, Amanda Lee Falkenberg, Linda Spilker, Ashley Davies, and Mark Sephton.Image: Paul Myer Hopkins

Our first opportunity to gather again came when Planetary Radio host Mat Kaplan headed to London for a Planetary Radio Live recording, celebrating the Moons Symphony, in collaboration with Imperial College London. There, we had the opportunity to hear recorded excerpts from The Moons Symphony, featuring movements inspired by the diverse and fascinating moons of our Solar System. This production offers a unique visual and musical experience that celebrates the merging of music and science to dramatize past, present, and future moon explorations and provide new perspectives of our own planet.

By combining artistic disciplines to produce works of great magnitude, the symphony is a result of collaborations with some of the greatest scientific minds from space missions at NASA and ESA, as well as world-class space artists. At the event, Mat held discussions with a wide array of special guests including Amanda Lee Falkenberg, Ashley Davies, Mark Sephton, Linda Spilker, and Nicole Stott. If you haven’t had the chance yet, you can listen to the full episode here.

Postcards to space
Postcards to space Postcards to Space "mailbox" at Astrofest.Image: Geovanni Somoza

Next, Planetary Society staff and volunteers joined astronomy lovers and space science organizations from around the city at the Pasadena Convention Center to kick off AstroFest 2022. The (typically) annual event, free and outdoors, was a heartening celebratory festival of hands-on, family-friendly space-themed activities including interactive virtual reality demos, sending postcards to space, solar telescopes, and more.

Bill Nye speaks at FUTURES
Bill Nye speaks at FUTURES Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye gives remarks to members at the Smithsonian's FUTURES exhibit.Image: Jason Dixon for The Planetary Society

A few weeks later, Planetary Society staff and volunteers made the trek to the East Coast for an informal celebration of the LightSail 2 mission at The Smithsonian’s FUTURES exhibit. There, we gathered with local members at the Arts and Industries Building under our 1/16 scale LightSail 2 model where our CEO Bill Nye offered remarks on LightSail 2’s inspiring journey.

Writing postcards to space
Writing postcards to space Members work on their postcards to space on the National Mall.Image: Jason Dixon for The Planetary Society
More postcards to space
More postcards to space Members write their cards.Image: Jason Dixon for The Planetary Society

On the same day we were celebrating LightSail 2, The Smithsonian was also celebrating the summer solstice by hosting the Astronomy Festival on the National Mall – the nation’s largest free annual astronomy outreach event. Planetary Society staff and volunteers joined the festival and helped guests send postcards to space.

We’re thrilled to be back in person with our members again. If you haven’t been able to make it out to one of these events in 2022, don’t worry; we still have opportunities for you to engage with us, including virtual webinar events that we offer at least four times a year. You can always find our most recent webinars at planetary.org/live if you’ve missed them.

We hope to be seeing more and more of you out there as we slowly return to in-person member events throughout the year. See you soon!

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