MagAO-X 2020A Stay at Home Day 9: Space + Beer + Zoom + Couch

Hello again! Seems like my first blog post was way more than 9 days ago, but that’s the way of things now. March was a hell of a year and April is shaping up much the same. Most days start with a thought like “Wait, is it Tuesday?”. But as I said last time, in the big picture things could be much worse. It’s a matter of one foot in front of the other. Get through this deployment (as Jared said in his jargon-filled Navy retrospective, the current moment feels much like a deployment, only with more sun, less cleaning stations, and more existential dread. I’m finding myself in the same mindset as I had for deployments, and it’s quite helpful.). An interesting trend I’ve noticed in myself trying to do this while class thing is that my motivation level as a function of day of the week seems to be on a linearly descending prior probability distribution. And my productivity posterior distribution is the same shape as the prior. Illustrated by this plot:

I definitely am super productive on Mondays, less and less so as the week trudges by. Fridays are nearly a lost cause.

But today I wanted to tell you all about Astronomy on Tap (@astronomyontap)! Astronomy on Tap is a collection of local satellite venues that host public astronomy talks, trivia, and games in bars around the world. As of this writing there are 77 different AoT venues past and present, from Chile to Germany to New York to Tucson. When I lived in Austin I was very involved with Astronomy on Tap Austin (AoTATX, @AoTATX), who hosts a huge event at the North Door on the third Tuesday of every month. Austin’s show is one of the biggest, with ~300 people attending every month! It was so much fun, and the other organizers are some of my dear friends.

So when I moved to Tucson, you better believe I jumped right into our local event, which we call Space Drafts (@Space_Drafts)!

Tucson’s flavor of Astronomy on Tap! Borderlands Brewing every month, typically the 3rd Wednesday.

Space Drafts takes over Borderlands Brewing on a Wednesday every month, with a couple of public talks by professional astronomers drawn from Steward Observatory, the Lunar Planetary Laboratory, NSF’s OIR Lab, or any of the other space-related institutions nearby (Tucson is such a space town!). It’s an all-levels show – you don’t have to know anything about space or science to enjoy it – and an all ages show, kids and dogs are encouraged to attend. Space Drafts is organized by me, Ryan Boyden of Steward, Cassandra Lejoly of LPL, and Stacey Alberts of Steward. (If you’re local please consider supporting Borderlands during this time!)

But that was in the before times. Our March show was canceled, and we’ve canceled all future shows for the time being. All looked dire for Astronomy on Tap until the intrepid folks at AoTATX figured out how to live stream their monthly show via YouTube and zoom, and it was off to the races (see their first live streamed event here). Which led to what happened yesterday………

Trailer for the epic event, featuring original music by Jason Achilles Mezilis |

Yesterday was Astronomy on Tap’s 7 year orbit-versary. 7 years since the first show(s) began accreting to form the complex system we have today. To celebrate, satellites from around the world came together to put on a 7 HOUR LIVE STREAMED AoT EVENT. For 7 hours, astronomers all over the world took over to give talks on everything astronomy. There were even live games, and the winners are getting prizes mailed to them! It was an EPIC event organized in literally like 3 weeks. They came up with idea ~3 weeks ago. And it all worked!

Waiting for the show to start

The event was broken into three 2-hour blocks. The first block (occurring at 12:30pm Tucson time) was hosted by European satellites and featured speakers from Europe. The second was the Eastern US and Canada, and the last block was the Western US, including yours truly. It was organized by Rebecca Larson of AoTATX (@SaturnsWings) and Cameron Hummels of AoT Los Angeles (@astrochum), and they did an AMAZING job. It was so much work and they really pulled it together to put on a fantastic show. I (represening Space Drafts) worked behind the scenes to manage YouTube comments, post social media links and highlights, and wrangle questions from the audience to feed to the hosts and speakers.

One of the games – guess the satellite show logo. Any guesses?
Megan Donahue (@astrophysics), President of the American Astronomical Society and Professor at MSU, talks about her research.

The end of the Western block featured “rapid fire” talks, short 2 min answers to frequently asked questions. Yours truly gave an answer to the question “What is SETI up to these days?”, based on my UG internship I did at Berkeley SETI Research Center.

Taylor Hutchinson (@aibhleog) of AoT Bryan College Station gives a rapid fire answer to the question “Who clears the cosmic dust?”

At the end, Bobak Ferdowsi played “Name the Moon”. You might recognize Bobak as “Mohawk Guy” from the Curiosity landing. The YouTube chat was all abuzz at his appearance.

You can see the WHOLE 7 hour event here: (embedding is disabled for this video). Our block starts at timepoint 4:35:00. The whole thing is SUPER great, but I definitely recommend watching the first talk by Andy Howell (@d_a_howell, @ScienceVsCinema, @AoTSB), of AoT Santa Barbara on the science of the movie Arrival, and Jessie Christiansen’s (@aussiastronomer ) drinking game of “Will you survive on this exoplanet” at time point 5:04:00 (spoiler: no). (You can play your own drinking game of Exoplanet Roulette alone in your house here: Also check out time point 6:17:00 for no reason at all I don’t know why just check it out….

It was an AMAZING achievement with LOTS of people working hard behind the scenes to pull it off. It was so much fun, a nice chance to do AoT with my ATX friends again, and keep AoT alive in this isolation period.

I’m going to look into doing virtual Space Drafts, and you can also watch AoTATX’s regular monthly show on their youtube channel on the third Tuesday of every month. If you’re not in Tucson, there is likely a local show near where ever you live! Go to to find out, and come out and support the live shows when they get rolling again. And support the local venues, which you can also find here, now!!

Today’s song of the day is by musician, Mars exploration microphone scientist, and frequent AoTATX contributor Jason Achilles Mezilis ( He is the last “rapid fire” speaker of last night’s show. And I picked this song because I miss Texas.