Wonderfest and the Bay Area Science Festival

Dear Wonderfest friend,

For over a decade, November’s approach has gotten Bay Area science lovers all hot and bothered: Wonderfest was near!

Now that Wonderfest is the Bay Area Beacon (not Festival) of Science, and its events are spread throughout the year, perhaps we are all feeling the effects of November nostalgia and Wonderfest withdrawal.

BASF to the rescue!  The Bay Area Science Festival (BASF) includes several Wonderfest-like presentations.  In fact, one BASF event is actually co-produced by Wonderfest, and several other events involve long-time Wonderfest friends.

On Nov. 5, Wonderfest joins the Mt. Tamalpais Astronomy Program in presenting a lecture on one of the great mysteries of science: dark matter.  This weird stuff constitutes more than 80% of the material universe, but we only observe it through its gravitational tug on the other 20%.  Otherwise, dark matter is—in every sense of the word—dark to us.

But Wonderfest’s contribution to BASF will enlighten the subject a bit!  UC Berkeley astrophysicist Dr. Michael Kuhlen will present a lecture and slide show entitled The Milky Way as a Dark Matter Laboratory.  Immediately afterwards, Urban Astronomer Paul Salazar will lead a laser-guided tour of the gorgeous Mt. Tam night sky.  And, finally, the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers will provide their big telescopes for a close-up public viewing of the heavens.

This Mt. Tam presentation is just one of many such “star parties” taking place throughout the Bay Area on that first Saturday evening in November.  So, if getting to Marin is a challenge, consider one of the other BASF astronomy events closer to home.

The choreographer of the entire BASF Star Party series is the winner of Wonderfest’s first Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization, Andy Fraknoi.  Besides working behind the scenes at BASF, Andy will be speaking about dwarf planet Pluto’s ignominious demotion at the single biggest BASF event on Sunday, Nov. 6.  This same huge science bash—at AT&T Park, no less—will feature Wonderfest friend Zeke Kossover and his legendary Physics Circus.

One other BASF event that may particularly energize Wonderfest fans is the Science Trivia Contest at Ask a Scientist on Wednesday, Nov. 2.  Why not drop by?  If you’re worried that the competition may be stiff, take heart: at least one team (the Wonderfest team, including yours truly) will probably provide comic relief, unintentionally.

Wondrous regards,

Tucker Hiatt

P.S.  It’s official: in the eyes of the state of California, Wonderfest is an independent nonprofit corporation.  Now we are waiting for IRS acknowledgement of Wonderfest’s 501(c)(3) tax exemption.