For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. — Carl Sagan
Please join us this November as we honor Carl Sagan and celebrate the beauty and wonder of the cosmos he so eloquently described.
Carl Sagan was a Professor of Astronomy and Space Science and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University. He was also a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and the creator of COSMOS. CFI and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry had the honor of working with Dr. Sagan for twenty years, from 1976, when he was one of the founding members of CSI (then known as CSICOP), to 1996, when he published the last of his many articles in Skeptical Inquirer, just months before he died.
Several years ago, CFI–Fort Lauderdale, FLASH, and other groups created the first Carl Sagan Day celebration for his birthday, November 9th, and the idea quickly spread. Now groups around the world are planning star parties, astronomy lectures, science fairs, teacher workshops and more.
Celebrate with us! Let us know how you’re planning to commemorate Carl Sagan Day by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help get the word out.
“What can my student group do?”
A campus group can participate in a wide range of activities to celebrate Sagan’s contributions. Below are some ideas. (If you have new ones, send them to email@example.com and we’ll add them to the list!)
- Carl Sagan Birthday Party: Host a party with apple pie (see below) instead of cake, and play the Cosmos soundtrack (available on YouTube) for background music.
- Apple Pie from Scratch: Sagan once said, “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” (Cosmos, 1980). Have an apple (and other) pie social evening or apple pie from scratch baking contest.
- Mocktail Cosmos: This idea comes from the Secular Society of MIT. Serve nonalcoholic cosmos cocktails made from the following: 8 parts cranberry juice, 4 parts seltzer/soda water, 2 parts orange juice, 1 part lime juice, all poured over sufficient ice to make/keep it chilled.
- COSMOS or Contact viewing parties: Choose your favorite episodes to show to your group, or host a public viewing.
- Carl Sagan lookalike contest: Pull out the turtleneck and corduroy blazer, part your hair to the side, and you’re good to go!
- Stargazing Party: You can link up with a campus or community astronomy club, or see what’s going on in a local observatory,
- Lectures/presentations: Find an astrophysicist or scientist to talk to your group or do a public lecture on campus.
- Put on an educational play for kids: Elizabeth Knapp wrote this script called “Sagan’s Garage” as a skeptical education tool for Carl Sagan Day events.
Can’t make it to a Sagan Day event, but still want to celebrate? Try one of these ideas:
- Check out Sagan’s many books at your local library or bookstore using the thorough listings from WorldCat.org.
- Enjoy the special collection of articles by or about Sagan, previously published in Skeptical Inquirer magazine.
- Listen to Sagan’s last public address for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (formally CSICOP) as replayed on CFI’s podcast, Point of Inquiry: “Science, Wonder, and Spirituality.”
- Listen to Ann Druyan, writer, producer, and widow of Sagan, discuss life with Carl, his outlook on life, and his famous Gifford Lectures, “The Varieties of Scientific Experience,” also on Point of Inquiry.
- Read the winning entries in the Kepler Mission Team essay contest, inspired by Sagan’s “shores of the cosmic ocean” allegory from COSMOS.
- Refresh your skeptic skills with a review of Sagan’s Baloney Detection Kit.
- Invite your friends over and try to convince them you have a dragon in your garage.
- At the very least, seek out a dark sky, look UP, and reconnect with the grandeur of the cosmos.
Very special thanks to Ann Druyan and Druyan-Sagan Associates, Inc., for their gracious permission to use images and content from COSMOS, and for making it possible for so many CFI branches and campus groups to screen COSMOS for this special occasion. For more information, please visit the Carl Sagan Portal.