Upcoming Book Events for “Incredible Stories From Space”

January 10th, 2017 by Nancy 0

Here are a list of upcoming events, book signings, presentations and appearances for “Incredible Stories from Space.” Hope to see you there!

DateTimeEvent/Location
Wed. Jan 11, 20176:00 pmBook Launch Event, Upsala Public Library, Upsala, MN
Sun. Jan 15, 20172:00 pmBook Signing, Barnes & Noble, Roseville, MN
Tues. Jan 177:00 pmAuthor Event, Magers & Quinn Booksellers
Mon. Jan 23, 20176:00 pmAuthor Visit with Nancy Atkinson, Melrose Public Library, Melrose, MN
Tues. Jan 245:00 am WGN Radio (Chicago) "The Opening Bell with Steve Grzanich"
Fri. Jan 27, 201712:00 Noon (1 pm EST)Maine Public Radio "Maine Calling"
Wed. Feb 8, 20177:00 pmArrowhead Astronomical Society/ Alworth Planetarium, U of Minnesota, Duluth
Fri. Feb 17, 20176:30 pmIncredible Stories from Space at the Como Planetarium
Sat. Mar 11, 2017TBDTucson Festival of Books, Author Panel
Sun. Mar 12, 2017TBDTucson Festival of Books, moderator for author panel

PAST EVENTS

Fri Oct. 28, 2016: University of Minnesota Morris, Astronomy and English classes
Mon Nov. 14, 2016: McKenna Crossing, Prior Lake, MN
Fri Dec. 9, 2016: Weekly Space Hangout show (internet)
Tues Dec. 13, 2016 The Space Show radio/internet show
Tues Dec. 20, 2016 BOOK RELEASE DATE
Tues. Jan 10, 2017 Jackson Middle School Hangout
Wed. Jan 11, 2017 Jackson Middle School Hangout

Hang Out With “Incredible Stories” on the Weekly Space Hangout

January 8th, 2017 by Nancy 0

Thanks to my mentor, boss and friend Fraser Cain for having me as a “guest” on the Weekly Space Hangout to talk about “Incredible Stories From Space!” It was fun to be back … I used to be on the WSH quite a bit, but with writing the book and with my situation of not having wired internet (long story about living in the boonies), it has been a while since I’ve been able to participate.

The show actually starts about 5 minutes into the video above, as the first few minutes is prepping for the show. We talk about the book right away after the 5 minute mark. Enjoy!

Book Release Day: December 20

January 8th, 2017 by Nancy 0

December 20 is the date I had been looking forward to for quite some time. After the delay in publishing the book from the originally planned date of Nov. 15, it seemed a long time in coming!

Because of the delay in the pub date, we had decided not to hold a “book launch” event on the release date because of the proximity to the holidays. Everyone just has so much going on the week before Christmas, and so I didn’t want to add another event on the already busy calendars of friends and family. So, I knew the day would be relatively quiet — at least personally — without an event to attend. My husband did take me out to dinner, however, at the Minneapolis landmark, Murrays. It was wonderful!

The day started off with two very positive reviews on space-related websites SpaceRef and Space Flight Insider, and quite a bit of buzz on social media (at least in my circles!) The highlight was when former astronaut Chris Hadfield (1.8 million followers) Tweeted a recommendation for the book, saying “Excellent book for the space fan on your list” with a link to the book on my website. What a thrill! It was fun responding to all the comments, too!

Then, fellow space journalist and friend Emily Lakdawalla pointed out to me that “Incredible Stories” was listed as the “#1 New Release in Astronomy and Astrophysics!”

The excitement of the day was tempered somewhat when I realized the online book sellers had the book listed as “temporarily out of stock.” It seems a glitch at Macmillan’s warehouse caused a delay in getting the books to their destinations. So the book wasn’t in stores or available to be shipped to those who had pre-ordered. While I tried to remain positive, I was disappointed to be sure, not to mention feeling a little snake-bit after this second delay in the distribution of the books.

Again, friends and family came to the rescue, posting positive feedback and comments on social media and sending text messages of support.

As of this writing, “Incredible Stories From Space” continues to hold a spot near the top of the “Hot New Releases,” so again, I’m incredibly grateful and thankful for all the support and interest in the book.

First Reviews for “Incredible Stories From Space”

January 8th, 2017 by Nancy 0

Drumroll please, I’m excited to share some of the early reviews for “Incredible Stories From Space!

I’m incredibly grateful for the the journalists who have taken the time to read the book and write reviews, and for the kind words (so far!) the book is receiving.

Emily Lakdawalla from the Planetary Society posted her annual “recommended space books for kids of all ages,” and here’s a excerpt of what she has to say about “ISFS”:

Incredible Stories from Space provides a crash course on the exciting stories of nine currently active robotic space missions, as related to author Nancy Atkinson by the women and men who work on them. Atkinson weaves together the challenges of preparation, adventures of exploration, and scientifically awesome results in the way she has done at Universe Today for more than a decade. The book is up-to-the-minute with its events and facts.

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A Guest on “The Space Show”

January 2nd, 2017 by Nancy 0

I was honored to be on David Livingston’s long-running internet radio talk show about all things space, “The Space Show” on December 13, 2016 to talk about “Incredible Stories From Space.” Since it aired exactly a week before the release date for the book, timing was great to get the word out about pre-ordering the book to get it in time for the holidays.

I’ve been on the show before, and David always asks great questions to allow his guests to fully say the things that are important about their topic. He also has a great listener base, so people emailed or called in with great questions, too. It was a fun conversation, and even though I was a little nervous to start off, David has a way of making everyone feel comfortable.

Here’s the page on The Space Show website about the broadcast , and the page includes a great overview of our conversation. Here’s the link to download the audio (11.25 MB)

A little behind-the-scenes about me doing the show that night: When David said at the beginning of the show, “We are glad Nancy has thawed out enough to be on the show tonight,” he was hinting at the frantic evening I had preparing for the show. Like many other things associated with the release of this book, being on the show didn’t come easy. David likes his guests to use a land-line to do the live on-air interview, and since we don’t have a land-line at our house, I had a plan all lined up of going to my mother-in-law’s house where I was going to go to do the show. But it was an extremely cold day in Minnesota on December 13, and for the first time ever in my life, my car wouldn’t start.

Normally, that wouldn’t be a big problem because we have two cars. But my husband was away on business. And we live out in the boonies, so getting car help at the last minute is near impossible. So I got a hold of David and told him my predicament. He said my cell phone sounded pretty good so he was willing to give it a whirl, and it ended up working out just fine. I just had more than a few moments of panic and running around trying to find battery chargers, etc, all to no avail. But it ended up working out just fine, so thanks to David for being willing to take a chance on my cell phone reception!

Book Update: New Release Date is December 20

November 15th, 2016 by Nancy 0

book-cover-image-final-incredible

I wanted to provide an update on the publication date for “Incredible Stories From Space,” following the news that a font corruption problem was found after the initial printing (read about that here). The new date the book will be released is (drumroll, please)

December 20, 2016

This means that those of you in the western hemisphere can now pre-order the book (find it here on Amazon, and here on Barnes and Noble and here on IndieBound) and receive it in time for the holidays.

Those holidays include Winter Solstice, Festivus, Chanukah, Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, and of course National Fruitcake Day (December 27, in case you were wondering).

Just a little plug here, but Amazon and B&N are both having great sale prices on the book right now, so take advantage! The book is available in both paperback and on Kindle, as a Kindle etextbook, which give you more interactive options while you read.

For my friends in Europe, the release date will be January 9, 2017.

I’m so excited to be able to share the stories of over 35 NASA scientists and engineers to introduce more people to the plucky robots out there exploring the cosmos!

Vote for Bob King and His New Night Sky Observing Book!

November 8th, 2016 by Nancy 0

night-sky-naked-eye

Since today is Election Day in the US, I’d like to suggest that you … buy Bob King’s new book about how to see things in the night sky WITHOUT any expensive, fancy equipment, just your eyeballs!

Have you always wondered about things you’ve seen in the night sky and wanted an easy explanation? Have you always wondered why stars twinkle, where to find the constellations (and what ARE constellations, anyway??) and what that bright light moving across the sky is (it’s probably NOT a UFO!), Bob’s book “Night Sky With the Naked Eye” is the perfect ‘explainer’ and companion. The book’s subtitle, “How to Find Planets, Constellations, Satellites and Other Night Sky Wonders Without a Telescope” provides a hint of what you’ll learn, introducing you to how you can start to enjoy the beauty of the night sky in new ways.

Besides information and explanations, the book includes fun activities, great graphics and beautiful images.

I’ve always admired and enjoyed Bob’s writing. He’s written for Universe Today for several years (see all his articles here), and he has his own blog, AstroBob. He’s got a lyrical tone that turns his descriptions, explanations and instructions into something akin to poetry. And his joyful sense of wonder about the night sky is infectious, making you want to go out and look for yourself! I know you’ll enjoy his book! It is published by Page Street Publishing, the same company that is publishing my own book, “Incredible Stories From Space.”

Bob wrote a great post today on Universe Today about what he learned through writing this book. He provides tips and lessons learned in his experiences of writing a book, and he talks graciously about how we “rooted for one another and shared our ups and downs” as we wrote our drafts simultaneously. I still think its amazing — and uncanny — that we both live in Minnesota and both had this tremendous opportunity to write a book. Still, even though we’ve worked together at Universe Today for several years, we have yet to meet each other in person, but that should happen by mid-November! Yay!

In a year where there’s been divisiveness, anger and unfriendliness, Bob’s lovely book is a reminder that we’re all under one sky and all in this together.

“Night Sky With the Naked Eye” is available starting today at bookstores, and is available to order on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and IndieBound.

Book Update: Houston, We’ve Had a Problem

November 1st, 2016 by Nancy 6

A Box of books

I have some good news and some bad news about my upcoming book, “Incredible Stories From Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.”

The good news is that I received a box of the books, which is certainly an exciting moment in the life of anyone who has written a book!

The bad news is, a problem was discovered.

During production, a “very rare” (according to my publisher) font corruption problem occurred and it wasn’t detected until after the book was printed.

A note from Page Street‘s editor-in-chief Will Kiester explains that what happened is a font got corrupted in the color reproduction phase. “However, we don’t as a matter of course reread the book by then (nor does any other publisher as far as I know),” he said. “It’s a rarity and not something expected. For example, this is the first time this has happened to me in my 25 year career.”

Therefore, the books will need to be reprinted, which will delay the originally planned release date of November 15. As of yet, I don’t have a firm new date for the release, but I’m trusting (hoping) that it will be sometime in December. I will definitely provide updates here and on social media.

Murphy’s law? Nothing good ever comes easy? Feel free to leave me some good quotes/positive thoughts!

While this delay in my book ‘launch’ is certainly disappointing, I’m hoping I can later look back on this as just a bump in the road, a hurdle to be crossed, just as many of the missions I wrote about in the book had to overcome obstacles to get launched to space.

Thanks, everyone!

The Big Reveal: Book Cover for “Incredible Stories From Space”

October 12th, 2016 by Nancy 0

book-cover-image-final-incredible

After nearly a year of work, thousands of miles of travel, and numerous interviews with nearly 40 NASA scientists and engineers, it is now a countdown of less than five weeks to the release of my first book, “Incredible Stories From Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.”

In the book, I have the opportunity to share the stories told to me by those scientists and engineers, stories that chronicle the struggles and triumphs of several robotic missions that are truly changing our understanding of the Solar System and beyond. I am honored and humbled to share their stories. I’m also grateful that I could travel to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Space Telescope Science Institute, Goddard Space Flight Center, and the Applied Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins University to see many of the “mission controls” for the spacecraft and see where all the action happens.

Here’s a look at the final version of the book cover, above, as it has been revised a few times. While my publisher, Page Street, had the final say, the cover — as well as the title — went through several changes and revisions. I love the ‘selfie’ of Curiosity that was finally chosen. A friend on Facebook, Tony Rice, said that Curiosity’s pensive, head-down pose always reminds him of a famous portrait of John F. Kennedy:

jfk

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some “behind-the-scenes” of writing the book as well as providing previews of several chapters, each which cover a different mission. I’ll be posting articles here as well as on Universe Today. Also look for some upcoming book ‘giveaways.’

My sincere and humble thanks to the NASA scientists who shared their stories and experiences and provided a window into the amazing and unique work they do, making this book possible:

Ashwin Vasavada and John Michael Morookian (Curiosity Rover); Alan Stern, Hal Weaver and Alice Bowman (New Horizons); Marc Rayman and Keri Bean (Dawn), Linda Spilker, Earl Maize, and Robert West (Cassini); Rich Zurek, Dan Johnston, Alfred McEwen, Christian Schaller, Kristin Block, Sarah Milkovich, Neil Mottinger, and Ari Espinoza (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter); Rick Nybakken and Steve Levin (Juno); Dean Pesnell, Alex Young, and Tom Woods (Solar Dynamics Observatory); Rich Vondrak, Noah Petro, Mark Robinson, Lillian Ostrach, Tony Colaprete and Jennifer Heldmann (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter); Ken Sembach, Zolt Levay, Helmut Jenkner, Carol Christian, and Frank Cepollina (Hubble Space Telescope); Natalie Batalha, Tom Barclay, and Wesley Traub (Kepler Space Telescope).

I look forward to sharing more insight about the book and I hope readers will enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it!

P.S. — Also want to note that another Universe Today writer, Bob King, also has a book coming out with Page Street. “Night Sky With the Naked Eye: How to Find Planets, Constellations, Satellites and Other Night Sky Wonders Without a Telescope” is a wonderful guide to observing the night sky with just your eyes. You can find it here on Amazon, or Bob wrote a post on Universe Today about the book.

I’m Writing a Book!

January 15th, 2016 by Nancy 1
Marker in the floor of the Mission Control room at the Space Flight Operations Facility at JPL. Image credit: Nancy Atkinson Marker in the floor of the Mission Control room at the Space Flight Operations Facility at JPL. Image credit: Nancy Atkinson

This week, I’ve been in California at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. I’ve been wanting to visit JPL for years and years, and until now it has never really worked out to do so. But I’m out here for a very special reason: I’m doing interviews with scientists and engineers because I’m writing a book.

What? Wheeeeee!

I’ve been going back and forth between those two exclamations for the past month and a half. Sometimes I still can’t believe it, but I’m really excited. It’s actually just sinking in that I have this tremendous opportunity, but being at JPL has made it seem more of a reality. Plus, now that I have done over a dozen interviews the past few days, I need to start writing, and writing like crazy.

Curiosity rover model at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.Curiosity rover model at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

A few details:

So, what am I writing? The book will be an overview of several different current robotic space missions. We’re still deciding on the title, but the working title has been “10 Space Missions Changing Our View of the Solar System and Beyond.” That is definitely too long and unwieldy, but it is a good description of what the book will entail. It will be geared toward young adult to adult audiences.

The publisher is Page Street Publishing. They are a subsidiary of Macmillan, and so far have published things like specialty cookbooks and various “how to” books. My book is their first foray into a topic like space exploration, so I hope I can do them proud.

What I’m extremely excited about is that Page Street uses full color images throughout their books. And what better images to share than the amazing photos our spacecraft send back to us from distant worlds and galaxies?! Just take a look at some of the books Page Street has done so far, and you’ll see why I’m so excited. Their books are beautiful, large format, and packed with gorgeous images.

2016-01-11 15.32.17

But particularly, I’m thrilled to be able to tell the stories of the spacecraft and the people behind the missions, and the journeys both have taken to make the discoveries and breakthroughs that are showing us the amazing, breathtaking Universe in which we live.

So, you might not see me much on my usual home at Universe Today over the next couple of months or even on social media, but I’ll definitely be busy. I’m humbled and sometimes a little overwhelmed that Page Street has asked me to write this book, but being at JPL has certainly been inspiring, especially their motto of “Dare Mighty Things.”

Wish me luck!

dare mighty things

I’m Going to Mars, How About You?

September 8th, 2015 by Nancy 0

Today’s the last day to sign up to send your name to Mars on the InSight lander, currently scheduled to launch on in March 2016, and here’s the link to where you can sign up to send your name along with the next mission to the Red Planet!

InSight stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, and the mission will send a lander on Mars to study the planet’s insides.

The mission will help us understand the processes that shaped the rocky planets of the inner solar system (including Earth) more than four billion years ago.

InSight will measure the planet’s “vital signs”: Its “pulse” (seismology), “temperature” (heat flow probe), and “reflexes” (precision tracking).

Find out more about the mission here.

10 Years of Keeping Track of the Universe (Today!)

November 17th, 2014 by Nancy 0

Wayback machine
Today is an important milestone for me, personally and professionally. 10 years ago today I wrote my first article for Universe Today. The rest, as they say, is history.

How this English Major became a science writer is a bit of a long story, one to maybe tell another day. But let’s just say that 15 years ago, if you would have told me I’d be a writer and then Senior Editor for a well-known space and astronomy news organization, I would have said you were crazy. The path of life can be surprising and unexpected – but yet totally fulfilling — with people sometimes unknowingly influencing your steps.
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I Knew Chris Hadfield Before He was an Internet Sensation

May 13th, 2013 by Nancy 0

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield returns home today from his 5-month stay on the International Space Station. But I knew him BEFORE he became such an internet sensation, with all his tweeting and videos and complete awesomeness during his Expedition 34/35. Although I had interviewed him several times before this picture was taken on February 24, 2011, this is the day I actually got to meet him in person. I was attending the launch of STS-133 at Kennedy Space Center, and had just come back inside the KSC press center when, there he was.

It was such a thrill to meet him, but all I can say about this picture is that it was a bad hair day for me, but a good mustache day for Chris.

Fun fact: the person who took the picture was astronaut Kent Rominger, and he was nice enough to actually take 2 pictures when he noticed my eyes were closed on the first shot. (sorry, I’m not posting that one; it’s too embarrassing.)

But here’s a great shot of the launch by my friend and photographer Alan Walters:

The Complete History of Earth in 90 Seconds

November 14th, 2012 by Nancy 0

This great video from the Symphony of Science project provides the entire history of us.

Happy Equinox!

September 22nd, 2012 by Nancy 0
Happy Equinox!

Thanks to one of our readers from Universe Today, Rick Ellis, for sharing his e-Postcard for the holiday! In the northern hemisphere, may your longer nights always be star-filled. In the southern hemisphere, as Neil de Grasse Tyson said on Twitter, Happy Spring Equinox to the 15% of all humans and 100% of free penguins who live down under.

Dancing Around the World

July 10th, 2012 by Nancy 0

I hope when future generations look back at this time in history, or if an alien civilization ever found evidence of life on Earth, this is what they’d see. All anyone ever really wants is to be happy, and sometimes dancing is the only way to express it.

This was featured on today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day. You can find more information about this crazy dancing guy at WhereTheHellIsMatt.com

The Day the Music Died

February 3rd, 2012 by Nancy 1
A huge pair of Buddy Holly-style glasses along a small road is the only indication that you've reached the entrance to the crash site where musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper died on February 3, 1959. Image: Nancy Atkinson

I often drive through Iowa, and have taken the opportunity to see a couple of unusual sights in the state. I previously wrote about seeing the Field of Dreams movie site, and I had also heard there was a small memorial near Clear Lake, Iowa at the site of where young rock stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper were killed in a plane crash on February 3, 1959. So last fall, I followed some rather cryptic directions I found on the internet and was able to find it, hidden in a corn field. It literally is out in the middle of nowhere. The only way I could tell I had found the right place was that there was a set of huge steel Wayfarer-style glasses along the road, the kind Buddy Holly was known for wearing. But to see the crash site, you have to walk along a fence through a corn field.

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Astronomy Photographer of the Year and the Royal Observatory in Greenwich (I was there!)

October 6th, 2010 by Nancy 1

As I wrote in a recent article on Universe Today: “The Royal Observatory Greenwich in the UK was the perfect setting to announce the winners of this year’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition, and I was privileged to be in attendance at the ceremony…”

Yes, I was really in London and was invited to Greenwich and the Royal Observatory for the Astronomy Photographer of the Year awards ceremony in September! The video above is from Will Gater and the BBC Sky and Night Magazine, and as evidence that I was really there, at :59 seconds into the video, you’ll see me hob-nobbing with astronomers and folks from the observatory and museum complex.
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Astronomy Picture of the Day

September 22nd, 2010 by Nancy 0
My shot of the silhouette shadow of the shuttle stack up in the clouds, which made the Sept. 22, 2010 APOD.

I’m getting some new visitors to my blog today, thanks to the folks at Astronomy Picture of the Day (otherwise known as APOD) who featured a picture that I took back in March of space shuttle Discovery rolling out the launchpad at midnight, and the Xenon lights shining on the shuttle stack created a unique silhouette shadow up in the wispy clouds. I actually think some of the other pictures of the event turned out better, but this one is the easiest to see the effect. If you want to see more of these images and the story of how it happened, see my post, “Beyond the Shadow of a Doubt, the Shuttle is Gorgeous.”

Thanks for visiting! To see where I do my real work, head on over to Universe Today, 365 Days of Astronomy, and the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcasts.

And if you don’t already, you need to visit APOD every day! Thanks again to Robert Nemeroff and Jerry Bonnell for featuring my image on APOD and giving me one of the biggest thrills of my career!

The Place Where Dreams Come True

September 21st, 2010 by Nancy 0
Box seats down the third base line at the Field of Dreams.

This is Iowa.

We drive through the Hawkeye State quite often and had always talked about stopping at the Field of Dreams movie site near Dyersville. We finally went there, and eerily, it looks exactly like it does in the movie. But really, it’s pretty cool: the big white farmhouse, the meticulous baseball field edged by a field of corn, and although there were probably 25-50 visitors wandering around on a nondescript Sunday afternoon, there was an air of quiet and – almost – reverence. It really felt like Shoeless Joe or Moonlight Graham could show up at any moment.

But the only voices we heard were the chatter between parents and children having a game of catch.

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