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RCA General Meeting: Stephen O'Meara

  • OMSI 1945 Southeast Water Avenue Portland, OR, 97214 (map)

Tales From the Dark Side

Eclipse Lessons Learned "The Hard Way" — From an Expert, Yet Very Human, Eclipse Chaser

This lighthearted yet informative lecture reveals the difference between expectation and reality. Stephen, an avid eclipse chaser and observer of more than a dozen  total and annular solar eclipses shares what we should do (and what not to do) so that we can have the best eclipse experience possible — without encountering the foibles described in this lecture. This entertaining romp should help eclipse watchers in Oregon to prepare for the unexpected. Who knows, maybe by the talk’s end, other veteran eclipse chasers in the audience will have their own stories and advice to share.

Stephen James O’Meara is an award-winning astronomer and author. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Northeastern University and spent his early career on the editorial staff of Sky & Telescope magazine in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He also spent some 15 years as a contributing editor and consultant for Odyssey, a science magazine for young adults. Stephen is a monthly columnist and contributing editor for Astronomy magazine and an associate editor for GeminiFocus, the quarterly publication of the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii.

Stephen has received several awards including the Omega Centauri Award for "advancing astronomy through observation, writing, and promotion, and for sharing his love of the sky." He has also been awarded with the Caroline Herschel Award for his greatest visual achievements, including being the first person to sight Halley’s Comet on its 1985 return, the discovery of dark “spokes” in Saturn’s B ring before the Voyager 1 spacecraft imaged them, and being the first person to determine the visual rotation period of the distant planet Uranus. For these accomplishments, the International Astronomical Union named asteroid 3637 O'Meara in his honor.

Stephen has authored or coauthored a dozen popular books on astronomy (including his acclaimed Deep-Sky Companion series) and other science topics. Stephen’s scary science book: Are You Afraid Yet: The Science Behind Scary Stuff, was honored as one of the 2010 Young Adult Library Services Association Quick Picks for the Reluctant Young Adult Readers List. He also created and co-authored Star-Gazing with Jack Horkheimer: Cosmic Comics for the Skywatcher. He is currently updating and editing the Oxford Dictionary of Spaceflight.

When he’s not looking at the sky, Stephen enjoys researching volcanic eruptions and has appeared on dozens of TV documentaries ranging from “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” to the Smithsonian Institution’s “Incredible Journey — a celebration of 125 years of discovery at the Smithsonian.”

National Geographic Explorer’s "Volcano Hunters" documents his research into finding a correlation being the Moon’s tidal pull and volcanic activity; the film was selected as one of the year’s best National Geographic documentaries and won the 2002 Golden Eagle Award for excellence in documentary.

Now a contract videographer for National Geographic Digital Motion and a contract photographer for National Geographic Image Collection, Stephen continues his tradition of sharing his love for all things scientific through his writing, editing, and lectures.


Slides From August Meeting

Earlier Event: August 14
New Member Orientation
Later Event: August 17
Oregon Star party