SIX SISTERS - The Space Shuttle Program
In 2011, the Space Shuttle program comes to an end after 135 missions - some legendary in success, two remembered in sorrow. Among the adventures are many you may not have heard of, including the wild ride of the "tethered satellite", the launch of three interplanetary probes, and a huge effort to launch shuttles from the west coast. Space artist and frequent OCA lecturer Chris Butler has an intimate connection with the six revolutionary space vehicles that starred in this 30-year running celestial drama: he helped build Endeavour, and his father worked on the remaining five shuttles. In Six Sisters, Chris will take a stroll down memory lane at Mach 25 to review the triumphs, tragedies and scientific advancements - especially astronomical - that resulted from the Space Shuttle program. As a special feature, he'll include at least one image from every mission, allowing you to remember the crews that flew them.
JOHN CHRISTOPHER "CHRIS" BUTLER
Chris Butler is an internationally renowned artist, public speaker, and educational program producer best known for his work on science, nature, and maritime subjects. His illustrations have appeared in thousands of publications worldwide, from the Times of London to Scientific American. A graduate of California State University Fullertonís school of Television and Film Production, Chris has served as an art director, concept artist, writer, and animator on both educational and entertainment programs. Among his screen credits are the National Geographic IMAX film "Forces of Nature" (2003) and Griffith Observatory's "Centered in the Universe," (2006). Chris has produced and presented live science educational programming since 1985 which has been featured at hundreds of events.
Chris has served as production artist and exhibit designer at Griffith Observatory for 13 years. His animations and scene designs have been featured in "Alien Worlds", "Millenium Coundown", "Water is Life", "First Light", and dozens of other planetarium programs. Although usually credited as "art director", Chris has also made major contributions in production planning, writing, storyboarding, and concept development. During the Observatory's massive renovation from 2002-2006, Chris provided conceptual, exhibit, and programming concepts which shaped the present facility.
For his public education programs, Chris writes, illustrates, animates, edits, and narrates his tale. In 2006, "Our Little Corner of the Galaxy - Cycles of Fire", a fully animated hour-long presentation, took audiences on an imaginary tour through nearby star systems. Other episodes of this series are in development now, while Chris continues to present dozens of other lectures illustrated with his original art.
Chris's penchant for humorous and entertaining live presentations has earned him the nickname "stand up comedian of the scientific world." In 2004, he was honored to be the first (and as of 2008, the only) live planetarium lecturer aboard Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2, a venue to which he has returned many times. The world's most luxurious ocean liner, Queen Mary 2 is the only vessel to feature its own planetarium theater. Its famed predecessor, the original Queen Mary, has also hosted Chris for appearances many times in Long Beach, California. In 2007, Chris was honored to be appointed the "Artist in Residence" of the Queen Mary.
Chris's unique art and presentation style reflects his diverse experience; he has been the director of a children's science museum, a tour guide on the original Queen Mary, a technical illustrator, a representative for a telescope manufacturer, an amateur astronomer, and a financial analyst on the space shuttle program for Rockwell International.
Chris was the 2006 recipient of the Western Astronomical Association's G. Bruce Blair Medal for service to astronomy, a prestigious award previously bestowed upon astronomer Sir Patrick Moore and famed illustrator Chesley Bonestell. Chris was also recognized in 2002 by having an asteroid named in his honor by the International Astronomical Union (minor planet 13543 Butler).
The son of an engineer who worked on the development of the Apollo lunar spacecraft and the Space Shuttle (Robert E. Butler), Chris grew up with the space program. As a child, he would regularly visit the factory where spacecraft were being designed and built, meeting luminaries such as Werner von Braun and many astronauts. Many years later, Chris returned to work at the same location, providing a deeper personal insight into the technical accomplishments of the space program. Over the years, Chris has had the opportunity to meet and interview most of the astronauts who voyaged to the moon, such as Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Gene Cernan, Pete Conrad, Jack Schmitt, Dave Scott, Alan Shepard, and John Young.
An avid amateur astronomer, Chris brings direct experience with astronomy to his work. He has served as a vice-president and board member of the Orange County Astronomers (the largest organization of its kind in the world), and is a life member of the Los Angeles Astronomical Society. Chris's maritime credentials include the Vice-presidency and board membership with the Steamship Historical Society of America's Southern California Chapter.
Chris resides in Buena Park, California, with his wife Tracy and daughter Diana.
"What's Up?" in this month will be presented by Steve Condrey