Around Distant Suns – Love letters to exoplanet science

We at Chameleon are happy to announce the following book:

Around Distant Suns – Emma Johanna Puranen

Our cover art is the brilliant work ‘The Impalpable’ by  Belgian artist Tinne De Vis. Her piece is part of the Ex(p)oplanet project at the Interdisciplinary Studio at SLAC > Leuven. Ex(p)oplanet is itself a bridge between art and science, bringing together astrophysicists from the CHAMELEON project, who are researching the origins and atmospheres of  exoplanets, with art students to broaden horizons and address the question ‘How can art and science meet, strengthen and challenge each other, and propose new insights?’  In Tinne’s own words, the cover illustration is ‘a future box displaying wild exoplanetary elements’, in this case based on the real exoplanet Tau Ceti f, representing ‘a lightyears’  sensation at this tiny restricted moment’.”

Purchase in the UK.
International Purchase via Amazon

Around Distant Suns is an anthology of science fiction (SF) stories organised and edited by Emma Johanna Puranen, an interdisciplinary PhD student from the St Andrews Centre for Exoplanet Science. Emma paired creative writers with researchers from the Centre who are experts in astrobiology, gravitational microlensing, Miller-Urey experiments, and exoplanet atmospheres. Each pair met several times — to get to know each other, discuss the researcher’s work, and let ideas spark. Emma’s research has to do with dialogues between scientists and SF creators, particularly regarding exoplanet worldbuilding in SF — and she was keen to see how pairs made story decisions, and where they decided to be realistic, plausible, or imaginative about the science portrayed in the stories. The resulting anthology features a wide variety or stories, from Earth to light-years away, and is a love letter to the reason for studying exoplanet science in the first place: the pursuit of the unknown.

We also would like to announce the following free onlinevent accompaying the book:

Discussion 29th September 2021, Byre World: Around Distant Suns

The discussion will take place online, is free and can be booked here: Byre theatre.


Massive Exoplanet MEME Exhibition 2020

By Sven Kiefer (on behalf of the organization commitee)

This year, the Massive Exoplanet MEME Exhibition opened its (virtual) doors for the second time. Visitors could enjoy over 100 memes about exoplanets, student life and astrophysics in general. We kicked it off with a short introductory presentation about astrophysics by Cyrano Chatziantoniou, a member of JWG . Afterwards, the people could go and enjoy the exhibition. The venue was created in Gather Town which allowed everyone to freely wander around and enjoy the memes alone or in groups. Some of the guests even dressed up for the event:

And the winner is…

Finally, it was time to vote for the fan favorite of the year. We had many meme-artists who sent their contribution by mail (thanks to all of you!) and all were eager to win the first price: eternal bragging rights. And the winner is this meme created by Rosa Hoogenboom who assured us that the joke is even funnier in Dutch:

Glorious second places…

But the race was close and the 4 memes below all made second place:

With guests from Mexico

The MEME was not only an event for (more or less) established astrophysicists but was also made accessible to high school students. Together with the  Colegio CIADI (a high school in Puebla, Mexico), we organised a second venue specifically for high school students. In it, Helena Lecoq Molinos and Andrés Arámburo García guided the students through the memes, explained their context (and why they are funny) and answered all the exciting questions like: what if gravity didn’t exist?

Stay tuned for more

The whole event was organized by Marit Mol Lous, Sven Kiefer, Elise Sänger and Hritam Chakraborty and many helpers without whom the event would not have been possible. We had a blast creating our own memes and seeing all the current and future astrophysicist having fun together. Hopefully next year will be as amazing as this year and maybe we can make the MEME accessible to even more scientists and students alike! Stay tuned on our twitter.