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Phil Plait

Phil Plait

Phil Plait shares Eliot Malumuth's enthusiam about the astronomical thrill of discoveries. Plait loves mysteries and the philosophical ramifications of his work - how did we get here, what was it like in the past, what will the future bring? "I think my favorite part is that it's like all of my dreams about science fiction when I was a kid, except now it's all real. That's very cool", says the scientist, who grew up in Springfield, VA. He studied astronomy at the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia, where he got his PhD in 1994.

Today Plait helps calibrate and analyze data from STIS at the Goddard Space Flight Center - tasks which give him insights into such diverse fields as brown dwarfs, low mass stars, asteroid research, supernovae or planetary nebulae. He also gives a lot of lectures as part of public outreach. "The very best part of giving talks is the look of wonder and joy on people's faces when they see some of the images of astronomical objects that I bring. I feel that way all the time."

Outside his job Plait likes to write (he has written a description of the Starfield in the LMC), birdwatch, play cards, watch old science fiction movies and spend time with his wife and nearly four-year-old daughter. He is also the webmaster of the two astronomy sites, Bad Astronomy, where he dispels myths and misconceptions about astronomy, and Bitesize Astronomy, where he explains current topics in astronomy in short, easy-to-understand essays.

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