Many professional astronomers focus their attention on the portion of the universe that begins at the top of Earth’s atmosphere. But Tyler Nordgren is different.
Tyler studies galaxies as a research astronomer at the University of Redlands in Southern California, but he has also developed a keen interest in U.S. national parks and how they have become prime destinations for a variety of astronomical activities. Unlike many professionals, Tyler can actually identify the major constellations. He has also visited almost every American national park, and has even written a book on the subject.
Tyler authored the cover story “Stars Above, Earth Below: Astronomy in National Parks” in the May 2012 issue of Sky & Telescope. In early March, he took time out from his research and travels to talk on the phone with S&T Editor in Chief Robert Naeye. In Part 1 of our interview with Nordgren, which lasts about 8.5 minutes, he discusses how he became interested in national parks, which park he ranks as his favorite, and how astronomy is not just a nighttime endeavor. In Part 2, which lasts 8 minutes, he discusses how national parks offer a refuge from the scourge of light pollution, how you can help boost the popularity of astronomy in national parks, and which parks you can visit to see archaeological evidence of ancient astronomers.
Take a peek at some of Tyler's landscape-inspired astrophotography.