BLOG TAKEOVER: Stand out in the Dark with 2017 Speaker Kevin Hainline

Hello, all! It's that time again - we are excited to bring you another Blog Takeover from 2017 Speaker, Dr. Kevin Hainline.

Founder Anique Coffee first met him 2+ years ago at another creative conference. She was so enthralled by his presence and workshop, that she also invited him to her 30th birthday for another stargazing night hike in the Santa Cruz mountains with 20 of her friends. He's incredible! Everyone must meet him and feel his energy. Read on to learn more about his unique perspective about the night sky, the vast universe and your place in it. He will blow your mind this October and we cannot wait to see your faces after you see his captivating talk and walk in the darkness while you gaze at the night sky together. Here's Kevin:::

When was the last time you looked up at night? I’m being serious: take a second to really try to remember the last time you took a moment to stare anywhere above the horizon at night. How long did you stop to look? Were you looking at any stars? Were you looking at the moon? Are you perhaps finding these questions difficult to answer? That’s ok! We live in an era with the brightest nights in all of human history, with street lights and house lights and spotlights and tall buildings. All of this works in concert to keep us from caring about what’s above us. The sky has become a boring, dark veil with the occasional moon.

I think this sucks. A lot.

The night sky is what connects us directly to our past. Throughout all of our history as a people, we have looked to the stars. They were used for telling time, for telling stories, and for telling our way. The motions of the sky were the basis of predictions, ceremonies, harvests, and prophecy. And now, more people can tell you what sign they are then can actually go out and find the constellation that the sign represents at night.

My name is Kevin Hainline. I’m an astronomer, and I work to bring the public back out into the night, looking upwards. I’m based at the University of Arizona, where I am part of the science team planning for observations of the farthest galaxies and light humans have ever seen with the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). I have been teaching people about the night sky for over ten years, through planetarium, museum, and public outreach. I love giving people the opportunity to stop and look at light that has traveled hundreds or even thousands of years to fall to Earth, a time machine for both the history of the stars as well as our own culture.

I love to reintroduce people to the stars, and I am so excited to be invited to travel out to Barcelona for the Collective. One of the amazing things about the night sky is that it travels with you: the stars I see here in Arizona will be the stars that we will see in Spain. And what I find even more amazing is that these stars are the ones that your parents saw, and their parents, and everyone, stretching back to the first humans who looked upward. You’re directly connected to the stars above you, as it is the stars which have built the atoms that we are composed of.

I’m especially excited about the message of the Collective which prioritizes community over competition. Working on JWST has taught me how much we can accomplish when we work towards the same ends, putting the aims of the group above the individual. It was only through the hard work and long hours of hundreds and hundreds of people around the world that such a monumental task could be completed, and I’m proud that my name will be one of the many on the publications announcing the first exotic discoveries from the instrument. While it sometimes feels as if it is only direct competition which drives innovation, my work shows that the same results can arise from curiosity, creativity, and the hard work of people with a common goal.

I’m really excited to meet you in October. I hope you come with a desire to stand out in the dark and stare upward. I hope you come with your curiosity, open and ready to discover your place in what can be a chaotic universe. Also, I hope you come with one hundred million questions. Especially if they’re questions about black holes. I love black holes.

Anique Coffee