Concept

Phil Plait

Summary
Philip Cary Plait (born September 30, 1964), also known as The Bad Astronomer, is an American astronomer, skeptic, and popular science blogger. Plait has worked as part of the Hubble Space Telescope team, images and spectra of astronomical objects, as well as engaging in public outreach advocacy for NASA missions. He has written three books, Bad Astronomy, Death from the Skies, and Under Alien Skies. He has also appeared in several science documentaries, including How the Universe Works on the Discovery Channel. From August 2008 through 2009, he served as president of the James Randi Educational Foundation. Additionally, he wrote and hosted episodes of Crash Course Astronomy, which aired its last episode in 2016. Plait grew up in the Washington, D.C. area. He has said he became interested in astronomy when his father brought home a telescope when Plait was 5 years old or so. According to Plait, he "aimed it at Saturn that night. One look, and that was it. I was hooked." Plait attended the University of Michigan and received his PhD in astronomy at the University of Virginia in 1995 with a thesis on supernova SN 1987A, which he studied with the Supernova Intensive Study (SINS). During the 1990s, Plait worked with the COBE satellite and later was part of the Hubble Space Telescope team at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, working largely on the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph. In 1995, he published observations of a ring of circumstellar material around SN 1987A, which led to further study of explosion mechanisms in core-collapse supernovae. Plait's work with Grady, et al. resulted in the presentation of high-resolution images of isolated stellar objects (including AB Aurigae and HD 163296) from the Hubble Space Telescope, among the first of those recorded. These results have been used in further studies into the properties and structure of dim, young, moderate-size stars, called Herbig Ae/Be stars, which also confirmed results observed by Grady, et al. After his research contributions, Plait concentrated on educational outreach.
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