Joel Goodman is an amateur astronomer and informal educator in Howard County, Maryland. Since retiring from 35 years as a family dentist in 2012, Joel has transformed a lifelong passion and devoted himself to promoting and teaching astronomy and space sciences. In 1997, when parents and students called for more after a star party showing off Comet Hale-Bopp, Joel founded the Celestial Searchers, an after-school astronomy club for grades K-6. In 2000, he joined the Howard Astronomical League (HAL) and dedicated the next 15 years to spearheading efforts to build an observatory for the club's 1930's handcrafted 12-inch f/6 Newtonian. HAL's publicly accessible observatory and library opened in 2015, and Joel serves as its Director and Outreach & Events Coordinator. He produces and presents live planetarium shows at the nearby Robinson Nature Center and serves on the Science Advisory Committee for county schools. As chair of the county's Recreation & Parks Advisory Board, Joel has been a strong advocate for light pollution education. For the past five years, he has been a Project ASTRO facilitator in area elementary schools, and in 2014, he was part of the initial group of NSF/NRAO/UNC/UChicago/ASP sponsored Skynet Junior Scholars leaders trained at Yerkes. The Skynet web portal grants secondary students access to a worldwide network of telescopes, including the PROMPT's at Cerro Tololo. Joel is excited to bring the knowledge gained during his ACEAP expedition back home to continue to expand upon the Skynet model while promoting the science classroom of the future with increased utilization of resources and data sets from remote locations.
Pat Hanrahan is Director of the Mt. Hood Community College Planetarium in Gresham, Oregon where he produces all of their planetarium shows as well as special school shows for K-12 students (see www.mhcc.edu/planetarium). He measures his success based on the amount of praise that he receives from his youngest attendees. Pat also initiated, planned, and designed the planetarium's new digital projection system. In addition to running the planetarium, Pat teaches astronomy courses at Mt. Hood Community College where he received their 2014 Excellence in Teaching Award in June 2014. He previously taught astronomy at Clackamas Community College, and at Portland State University. Sharing his love of the stars is one of his passions. Seasonally, he has served as Resident Astronomer at Sossusvlei Desert Lodge in Namibia to show guests the treasures of the southern sky (2011-2015). At the request of the lodge's parent company (&Beyond), he was sent to train their rangers about the night sky in Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa. In Oregon, he is a member of the Rose City Astronomers and shares his 15" telescope at star parties. He has also served as the Observatory Director of the Haggart Observatory at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City Oregon. Pat's hobbies include hiking and photography which includes astrophotography. He uses most of his night pictures in teaching and some of his pictures have been published in in publications of the Rose City Astronomers and in The Southern Observer's Handbook by Leo Cavagnaro.
Jack Howard became interested in astronomy when Sputnik I went into orbit, and the race to the Moon began. While studying physics in college, he spent a month at Kitt Peak National Observatory doing variable star research with his mentor. After a 20-year career in business, Jack returned to the classroom in 1995, teaching math and physics. He started the astronomy program at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and became the first full-time instructor in the program, while earning a master’s degree in astronomy from James Cook University. Although retired from full-time teaching, he actively continues teaching astronomy, physics, and math at community colleges in the Charlotte (NC) area and serving on advisory committees at RCCC, where he was a 2003 recipient of the Excellence in Teaching award. For the last two years, Jack has also served as a volunteer outreach educator in NASA’s Solar System Ambassador program. He is an active member of the Charlotte and Rowan County astronomy clubs. Jack’s hobbies – when time allows – include instrumental music, mostly piano and clarinet, and flying airplanes.
Rebecca Ljungren is a professional Astronomy Educator at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and the Phoebe Waterman Haas Public Observatory. She seeks to inspire life-long learners through astronomy by having visitors observe astronomical phenomena, analyze data, and explore the lives of professional and amateur astronomers. At the Museum, Rebecca’s activities include developing and conducting innovative and hands-on astronomy programs for the public and groups, training educators, interns, and volunteers, bringing telescopes to public venues around DC like Astronomy on Tap, and developing exhibitions. She has spoken at the Winter Star Party and the Almost Heaven Star Party. Recently, Rebecca loved helping hundreds of thousands of people view the solar eclipse this past August 21st, especially students from DC schools. Rebecca is a “late-onset astronomer.” She fell in love with astronomy and astrophysics working part-time at the National Air and Space Museum while earning her bachelor’s degree in Art History from American University. Rebecca loved facilitating informal interactions so much that she went on to earn a master’s degree in Museum Education from The George Washington University, and then to a full-time position as an Astronomy Educator. Her broader academic interests include the intersections between science, gender, art, and society. Through her work, she advocates for a more inclusive and accessible experience within museums and in daily life.