Ithaca is home to Carl Sagan, the Hubble telescope, stargazers and skywatchers. Swenson Book Development LLC collaborates with the Museum of the Earth and Buffalo Street Books to bring two authors to town with new books about space science for Columbus Day weekend.

When a fiery meteor crash in 1807 lit up the dark early-morning sky in Weston, Connecticut, it did more than startle the few farmers in the sleepy village. More importantly, it sparked the
curiosity of Benjamin Silliman, a young chemistry professor at nearby Yale College. A Professor, A President and a Meteor: The Birth of American Science (Prometheus) explains how the chemist’s rigorous investigation of the incident started a chain of events that eventually brought the once low standing of American science to sudden international prominence. And, by coincidence, the event also embroiled Silliman in politics, pitting him against no less an adversary than President
Thomas Jefferson. Based on a wealth of original source documents and interviews with current experts in history, astronomy, and geology, journalist Cathryn J. Prince tells the remarkable story of Benjamin Silliman, arguably America’s first bona fide scientist.

Andrew Kessler’s first book, Martian Summer: Robot Arms, Cowboy Spacemen, and My 90 Days with the Phoenix Mars Mission (Pegasus), tells what happened when he won the “nerd
lottery”—an exclusive ticket to work inside mission control of the Phoenix Mars Lander. For three months in the summer of 2008, Kessler enjoyed unfettered access to 130 top NASA scientists and engineers as they tried to retrieve dirt from Mars’ north pole in an effort to “unearth” the history of water and the potential for life on this planet. His is an adventure story about modern-day Magellans battling NASA politics as well as the bizarre world of time-shifting, which occurs because the Martian day is longer than ours, resulting in an uncomfortable mix of sleep deprived scientists. Kessler demystifies the discovery process and, in so doing, the scientists become humans and heroes as well—all characters you will grow to know and care about.

Bob Proehl of Buffalo Street Books hosts an author panel with Andrew Kessler and Cathryn Prince on Sunday, October 9th at 3 pm. Reading brief excerpts and sharing author tips on publishing and marketing, these two science writers will answer questions from the audience. On Monday, the Columbus Day holiday, the Museum of the Earth offers a presentation at noon by Andrew Kessler and Cathryn Prince of interest to all ages. Prince will focus on what people in other times and places thought about meteorites and Kessler will show and tell the audience what it was like to live and work in mission control on the Phoenix Mars Mission.


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