We're extremely lucky to have an exceptional group of astronomers to host the Star Party this year. Here's a little bit about them!
Phil Plait is an astronomer, author, and creator of the Bad Astronomy blog hosted by Slate Magazine (http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy.html). He spent a decade working on Hubble Space Telescope data, observing exploding stars, black holes, galaxy collisions, and young still-forming planetary systems. He loves science, and has become something of a science evangelizer, extolling the wonders and joy of learning about and understanding the Universe in which we live.
Dr. Nicole Gugliucci is an astronomer with Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, working on CosmoQuest, a citizen science and astronomy education portal. Her research is on low-frequency radio astronomy and how our observations of the most distant objects in the universe are affected by our own planet's atmosphere. She has wanted to be an astronomer since seeing "Contact" in theatres as a kid, and tries to find ways to bring the wonders of astronomy to everyone. She has engaged in hands-on outreach with elementary school children through a program called Dark Skies, Bright Kids, has taught a class at UVa called "Life Beyond Earth," and blogs for Discovery Space News. Inspired also by Carl Sagan's "Demon-Haunted World," Nicole considers herself a critical thinking advocate, getting involved in local skeptics groups and blogging at NoisyAstronomer.com and Skepchick.org.
Ever since Derek Demeter could remember, he has been looking to the stars. This constant fascination with astronomy gave him the inspiration he needed to soar through the many stellar journeys he has experienced throughout his life. While a student finishing his degrees in Physics and Technical Education he landed a position at the Seminole State College Planetarium in Sanford, Florida. Over much of the last decade, his passion for teaching people about the wonders of the universe has earned him accolades and recognition from the planetarium industry, his peers, and the community. He now works hard presenting programs to both the community at large and to students of all ages. Derek also promotes science beyond the planetarium with his appearances at many other venues such as the Harmony Dark Sky Festival, Cafe Science of Orlando, local libraries, the Central Florida Astronomical Society, and simply setting up a telescope at local shopping centers to give the public a truly "out-of-this world" experience.
Pamela Gay is an astronomer, writer, and podcaster focused on using new media to engage people in science and technology. Through CosmoQuest.org, she works to engage people in both learning and doing science. Pamela's goal is to map our Solar System in unprecedented detail through citizen science projects, and learn astronomy through media productions like Astronomy Cast. Through this weekly podcast, Fraser Cain and Pamela Gay take you on a facts-based journey through our Cosmos, exploring not only what we know, but how we know it.