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New Meetup: Boston Skeptics: Jonathan McDowell presents The Race to the Moon @ Tommy Doyle's

From: T.J. M.
Sent on: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 11:53 PM
Announcing a new Meetup for Nerd Fun - Boston!

What: Boston Skeptics: Jonathan McDowell presents The Race to the Moon @ Tommy Doyle's

When: July 27,[masked]:00 PM

Tommy Doyle's Irish Pub
96 Winthrop Street (Harvard Square)
Cambridge, MA 02138

Although this isn't the best place to have a Meetup -- the tables seat only four, we are invading an event that is already packed, we won't have time to talk or meet-and-greet until after the lecture, we won't be able to sit next to each other -- the Boston Skeptics group is spectacular! Read the reviews when Nerd Fun invaded last month's meeting at

Where to meet:
T.J. Maher will be kicking around Harvard Square from 5:30 pm onwards. Care to grab dinner upstairs at Tommy Doyle's where the lecture is being held? He'll be outside Tommy Doyle's by 5:50 pm, and we can all go upstairs and sit down at 6:00 pm wherever we can. By 6:00 pm, it's half-full and most of the tables up front are taken. We probably can't get adjacent tables, but that's okay. We can find each other after the lecture. T.J. is 5 foot 7, with blue eyes, short brown hair, a "Hello My Name is T.J". nametag, and a red MEETUP sign attached to his black messenger bag. He'll be the one up front holding the 11 x 17 large red MEETUP sign afterwards.

Boston Skeptics in the Pub: RACE TO THE MOON!

Lecturer: Jonathan McDowell

Free, 7:00pm - 10:00pm

"Dr. Jonathan McDowell is an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, MA.

"To mark the 40th anniversary of the moon-landing, he?ll be discussing the story behind the battle between the Soviet Union and the US. Here?s a synopsis:

"It is now 40 years since humans first visited another world. ?Houston, Tranquility Base here? the Eagle has landed?. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had reached the Moon. (Yes, conspiracy theorists, they really did go to the Moon? get over it).

"The story of the race to the Moon dominates the early history of the space age; the first Soviet and American lunar probes were launched less than a year after the first Earth satellite Sputnik, well before Yuriy Gagarin and Alan Shepard rocketed into space.

"The American program was carried out in the public eye; the Soviet effort was mysterious at the time, but its details have now been declassified. To get to the Moon, both countries developed orbital spaceships and robot deep space probes; both tested out space rendezvous and space walking, and both launched the biggest rockets in history. Each program had a charismatic rocket scientist as its figurehead: ex-Nazi Werner von Braun and Gulag survivor Sergey Korolev. The launches were funded by politicians eager for Cold War propaganda victories, but designed by engineers who saw the longer term implications of the drive towards the stars.

"The climactic month of July 1969 saw the launch-pad explosion of the USSR?s rocket, and the last-ditch attempt of a Soviet robotic probe to beat Armstrong and Aldrin home with the first moonrocks. But only three years later, the Apollo 17 mission saw the last lunar visitors for a generation, and human spaceflight turned back to low Earth orbit. Now, space exploration is gearing up again, despite budget problems. What will come next?

"Boston Skeptics in the Pub is an informal lecture series where everyone is invited to hang out, socialize, drink, eat, and maybe even learn something. Each lecture is followed by a rousing Q&A session and then several hours of drinking and socializing that sometimes evolves into Harvard Square bar-hopping.

"The lecture begins around 7pm, but show up anytime after 6:30 to get good seats!"

Facebook event Page:

Jonathan's Space Report:

Jonathan's Space Report [JSR] "is issued about twice a month. It describes all space launches, including both piloted missions and automated satellites. Back issues are available online. To receive the JSR each week by direct email, send a message to [address removed], with a blank subject line and message body containing the single line 'subscribe jsr'. Feel free to reproduce the JSR as long as you're not doing it for profit".

Jonathan's Personal Home Page at Harvard:

Somerville News, 9/1/2004: Somerville astronomer has planet namesake

"Jonathan McDowell has a very personal connection with outer space. A planet bears his name.

"Planet 4589, otherwise known as McDowell, is a minor planet belonging to an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It is about 200 million miles from Earth and is only about a mile wide, said McDowell, who lives in Somerville by way of England.

"McDowell said he has been an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) for the past 12 years, and has connections to the International Astronomical Union, the group that holds the right to name things in space.

" 'They named the planet after me because they?re running out of names,' he said". [ READ MORE: ]

About Boston Skeptics:

"Boston Skeptics is a group of critical thinkers who get together to talk, eat, drink, and be skeptical about things like homeopathy, creationism, psychics, aliens, alternative medicine, conspiracy theories, and whatever else catches our attention".

... The group appears to be run by Rebecca Watson, who runs the blog "The Skepchick" at . "Skepchick is a group of women (and one deserving guy) who write about science, skepticism, and pseudoscience. With intelligence, curiosity, and occasional snark, the group tackles diverse topics from astronomy to astrology, psychics to psychology".

About Rebecca Watson:

"When she?s not writing bios about herself in the third person, Rebecca is leading a team of skeptical female activists at, co-hosting the weekly podcast The Skeptics? Guide to the Universe, trying to get her public radio show Curiosity, Aroused picked up, producing pin-up calendars, and attending rock shows. She currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where she works as a copywriter in order to fund her hardcore skepticism habit. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. She does nothing in moderation and hopes it shows".

Learn more here:

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