Monday, July 30, 2012

Oh, say, can you see?

Apparently, yes, you can: that star-spangled banner yet waves. Five out of six them, anyway, when it comes to the flags raised on the moon by the Apollo astronauts. That’s the news from the some of the most recent images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera. (The flags themselves are not so easy to see, but their visible shadows tell the story.) The exception: Apollo 11. On his blog, LROC principal investigator Mark Robinson writes: “From the LROC images it is now certain that the American flags are still standing and casting shadows at all of the sites, except Apollo 11. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin reported that the flag was blown over by the exhaust from the ascent engine during liftoff of Apollo 11, and it looks like he was correct!” 

You can read more and find related images and video at Robinson’s blog, here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Love me tender (a Lightship reading)

I’m looking forward to doing a reading of Lightship here in New York this Saturday, July 28, as part of Books Ahoy!, a celebration of children’s books sponsored by Pen Parentis. The event description: 
Presented by Pen Parentis, best known for our upscale evening Literary Salons at Gild Hall, a Thompson Hotel, and co-sponsored by HRP Mamas, Books Ahoy! will celebrate the works of various children's book authors, presenting them reading in an open-air, open house style festival on the deck of the 1933 lighthouse tender, The Lilac, moored on the Hudson River at Pier 25, accessible from N. Moore Street. Books will be vended by our favorite indie bookstore, Bluestockings Books, and all children dressed in nautical themes can have their faces painted - free - by a celebrated NYC artist. The Lilac will offer free tours that include visits to the engine room. There is even a wooden captain's wheel that kids are encouraged to spin. 
And don't worry if your kids age 3-10 can't sit still for more than a few minutes. Authors will be reading between 2pm and 5pm in constant rotation and if even that is too much for the little ones, the Lilac is moored off Pier 25 at North Moore Street in Tribeca and will not leave the shore. Kids accompanied by an adult guardian can board and disembark at will, sit and listen to an author read a story, work at the art table, get a (temporary) tattoo, then wander off to the adjacent playground or buy a round of mini-golf.
What’s going to be really great about this reading (for me, anyway) is that the Lilac actually used to service the Ambrose lightship. She even shows up in the book to drop off mail for the crew. Back in January, I was amazed to receive a note from a woman who recognized the Lilac in the book, thanks to the fact that her grandfather once captained her. (Completists can read that blog post here.)
Also reading will be Melanie Hope-Greenberg, Adam Rubin, Yona McDonough, and Julia Sarcone-Roach. Our rough schedule is:

2:15-2:30  Melanie Hope-Greenberg
2:45-3:00  Adam Rubin
3:15-3:30 Yona McDonough
3:45-4:00 Brian Floca
4:15- 4:30 Julia Sarcone-Roach

The Lilac is berthed at Hudson River Park's Pier 25, located in Tribeca, at North Moore Street and West Street. The closest subway stations are the Franklin Street stop on the 1 or Canal Street on the A/C/E (exit at Walker Street). North Moore Street is one block north of Franklin Street, or a block south of Walker Street. Walk west on North Moore to the pier. Additional event details are here

I hope you’ll be able to make it!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sally Ride

I’m surprised and saddened to read of the passing of astronaut Sally Ride. I dont guess I think of Sally Ride that often on a day-to-day basis, but two years ago (to the week) I was on a cross-country drive for the current project when an interview with Dr. Ride came on the radio, and I remember how impressed I was, learning a little more about her, and hearing what she has been up to, as I wound my way across Nevada. Over the course of the interview she talked about how inspired she was as a girl by the space race and the moon landings and Neil Armstrong. I loved how gender-neutral the appeal of those flights was for her and her young classmates, something I’ve been glad to see for myself in kids when talking about Moonshot during school visits. But Dr. Ride also talked in the interview about the trouble that begins in middle school when it comes to science and math education, for both boys and girls, but especially for girls, and her efforts on that front were impressive and inspiring, too. It would have been one part appreciation and one part self-promotion, but my intention was to send her a copy of Moonshot as soon as I got back home, something I never got around to doing. A rough idea of the date of that interview, plus the internet, makes it uncannily easy to find that conversation, though. It was on the Diane Rehm show (but with a guest host; I would have remembered Diane Rehm’s voice) and you can hear it online, here. It’s a worthwhile listen.  The Apollo bits come early, scattered through the first fifteen minutes. And children’s book types might be amused and heartened to hear Mrs. Frizzle get a nod. Sally Ride’s obituary at the Times, here, is well worth the read, too. At one point Billie Jean King urged her to drop out of college to pursue tennis professionally. Who knew? Rest in peace, Sally Ride.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

July 20 is almost here again

I was happy to spot this poster recently at an outstanding establishment in Michigan. 
Happy Moon Day to all, and to all a good night.