September 9, 2017 9:00 pm

Inside StarTalk’s Invitation-Only Facebook Live Fan Event at Sessanta in SoHo, NYC

Today’s guest post is by StarTalk intern Jen Walsh, a senior Television-Radio major at Ithaca College. You can follow her on Twitter here.

Last month, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Chuck Nice went live on Facebook with a special edition of StarTalk. The theme was Cosmic Queries: “Galactic Gumbo” edition, covering a wide range of topics from the anniversary of the Voyager mission to the concept of the multiverse to the legalization of marijuana. Hosted by SoHo hotspot Sessanta, the show featured a special space-themed menu alongside Neil and Chuck’s classic banter. Our live audience of All-Access subscribers and Patreon patrons received exclusive invites as a thank-you for being superfans.

Some of the StarTalk fans in the audience asked Neil and Chuck a few questions, about the speed of the universe’s expansion, measuring the distance between stars and planets, and panspermia and life on Mars. One fan wore a skirt featuring Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night,” Neil’s favorite painting. Neil said he loved the skirt so much he’d wear it, much to the surprise and delight of everyone in the audience.

Stacey-Severn’s photo of Neil deGrasse Tyson Maria Braga Hinds, and The Starry Night.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Maria Braga Hinds, and The Starry Night. Credit: Stacey-Severn.

Neil also discussed his early childhood aspirations to study astrophysics. His comments about seeing the night sky for the first time at the Hayden Planetarium resonated with me. As a lifelong New Yorker, I had the same experience. It’s easy to forget about how much lies beyond Earth when city lights are blocking your view, until a planetarium allows you to discover more about the universe. Perhaps that’s why my trips to the Hayden have inspired me throughout the years – I still feel the same sense of wonder I did as a kid when I get to look up at the stars. If you’re interested in “meeting” Carter Emmart, the Hayden Planetarium’s Director of Astrovisualization, and learning more about how he brings the universe down to earth, check out this episode of StarTalk All-Stars hosted by Dr. FunkySpoon.

Sessanta’s chef and bartender provided some creative cosmic cuisine, including artichoke and endive “comet tails,” “Kuiper belt” potato gnocchi, and a specialty cocktail, the Event Horizon. As Neil noted, beyond the event horizon there is no return, so drink with care, StarTalkers. The party extended online, with viewers asking questions in real time. Neil and Chuck chatted about the Great American Eclipse, discovering extraterrestrial life, and the multiverse (with a solid Rick and Morty reference from Chuck).

As one of the newest members of the StarTalk team, my favorite part of the night was meeting fellow fans and seeing the StarTalk community come together in person. It’s not every day you’ll find everyone in a busy restaurant willing to chat with you about the cosmos, and trust me, it results in some next-level geeking out. While I can’t make it to our upcoming StarTalk Live! event, I can imagine the energy that an entire auditorium full of people cheering for science can generate. Tickets are still available for our star-studded night of science, laughter, and surprises at the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn on September 18.

If you missed the event on Facebook Live, don’t worry: we’ll be turning it into a podcast episode of StarTalk Radio some time this fall.