Candidate Profile

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EXPERTISE
Astronomy & Space Science
Destinations & Ports
Shore Excursion Escorts
Travel & Destinations
PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE WITH:
BIOGRAPHY
Astronomy journalist and educator Dan Benedict's interest in astronomy began in earnest one August night in 1960 when his father gathered the family in the front yard to watch America’s first successful communications satellite, Echo-1, travel across the sky and disappear into Earth’s shadow. He is an avid practitioner of naked-eye astronomy, observing those celestial objects and phenomena that can be easily seen by the casual stargazer with the unaided eye, such as the appearance of planets, bright stars and their constellations, satellites, meteor showers and eclipses. He notes that "Until 400 years ago, all astronomy was naked-eye astronomy."

Selected as a participating journalist for a 1998 total solar eclipse cruise, Dan developed a particular interest in astronomy in the unique environment found aboard cruise ships. He explains that “One of the biggest problems for land-based stargazers is light pollution — unwanted light from buildings, street lights, advertising signs and other sources — that hides the dimmer sights in the night sky. It’s tough to find a dark sky anywhere anymore. Many people have never even noticed the Milky Way. But when you are on a ship, you may be hundreds or even thousands of miles away from the nearest sources of light pollution and air pollution, and you get views of the sky like no place ashore.”

Dan's company AstroCruises has been featured in The Washington Post and U.S. News & World Report. He has written for Cruise Critic about "10 Tips for Shipboard Stargazing" and lecturing aboard cruise ships and featured prominently in The Travel Writers Life about travel writing.


(Click images to view the articles)
TALK TITLES
ASTRONOMY / DESTINATION PRESENTATIONS

First presentation, and specific to the dates and locations of the current itinerary
Stargazing aboard (name of current ship). A preview of the stars, planets and other celestial sights we might see during this voyage.

Mediterranean, Middle East
A Sky Full of Heroes: Astronomy of the Ancient Greeks. Much of Western astronomy dates back to the Golden Age of Greece, including many of the constellations used by today’s astronomers.

Southern Mediterranean, Middle East
Skies of the Pharaohs: Ancient Egyptian Astronomy. How the Old, Middle and New Kingdoms of Egypt viewed the realm of the gods.

Holy Land/Israel and the Middle East
Timekeeping for Christians, Jews, Muslims and Bureaucrats. Religious festivals are often based on the movements of celestial bodies, and understanding these cycles can lead to a greater appreciation of the heritage of three major monotheistic religions.

Alaska, Baltic, North Atlantic
Northern Lights and Other Sights: The Sky of the Far North. A look at auroras, noctilucent clouds (at the very age of space), polar satellites and other celestial sights we may see during this cruise.

Antarctica
The Sky of the Far, Far South: The Antarctic Sky. A look at celestial sights unique to this part of the world.

Tropical Asia, Africa and South America, Caribbean, Hawaii, South Pacific, Indian Ocean, northern Australia
Under Tropical Skies. Passengers from the mainland U.S., Canada and Europe can see stars, constellations and other celestial sights here that they never see at home.

Hawaii, South Pacific, New Zealand
Finding Tiny Little Islands in a Great Big Ocean: An Introduction to Polynesian Wayfinding. How were the ancient Polynesians able to find and colonize islands across the Pacific, sailing thousands of miles between landfalls from New Guinea to Easter Island.

South Pacific, Australia
Captain Cook and the Transit of Venus, or Why the Residents of New Holland Speak English. One of the greatest European voyages of discovery led to the U.K.'s gaining control of a whole continent.

Western Caribbean, Mexican Riviera
An Introduction to Mayan Astronomy. The Mayans displayed an extraordinary knowledge of astronomy that in some ways surpassed that of contemporary Europeans.

U.K. and Ireland
From Stonehenge to Greenwich and Beyond: A Brief History of Five Thousand Years of British and Irish Astronomy. Join us for a look at British and Irish astronomers and observatories from the Stone Age to the Space Age.

South America, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Indian Ocean, South Africa
More Alien than Mars: The Skies of the Southern Hemisphere. For those who know only the skies above North America and Europe, the stars and constellations you would see from the martian north pole would be more familiar that the stars and constellations you’ll see in the southern hemisphere.

South America, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Indian Ocean, South Africa
New Southern Constellations of Plancius. How the rise of capitalism, voyages of discovery and the Spanish inquisition in the 16th century led to the first new constellations since the ancient Greeks.

South America, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Indian Ocean, South Africa
The New Southern Constellations of Lacaille: A Frenchman in Cape Town. Discover the constellations created by a failed priest in the 18th century during the Age of Enlightenment.

Port Canaveral
Cape Canaveral: America’s Gateway to Space. The history and accomplishments of the U.S.A.’s main spaceport.

Northern Hemisphere
Learning Astronomy with the Bears. A basic astronomy course in only 45 minutes using the stars of the Big Dipper (Plough) and Little Dipper.

Southern Hemisphere
Learning Astronomy with the Southern Cross. A basic astronomy course in only 45 minutes using the seven stars of the Southern Cross and its Pointers.

ASTRONOMY AND SPACE ENRICHMENT PRESENTATIONS

1. Cruise Ship Astronomy’s Top-Ten Greatest Hits.
Our favorite celestial sights seen from the decks of cruise ships all over the world.

2. Life on Other Worlds.
New discoveries on Earth and beyond show us it's not all about Little Green Men.

3. What in the World is Up with Pluto?
Looking at the past, present and future of the first object beyond Neptune discovered in our solar system

4. Invasion from Earth: Voyages of Discovery in the Space Age (One or Two Parts).
Space probes go where no one has gone before.

5. Fly Me to the Moons.
Planets in our solar system have an unexpected diversity of natural satellites.

6. Seeing the Unseen: Views of the Universe Beyond the Human Eye.
Space telescopes can image the universe in infrared, ultraviolet and other wavelengths we cannot see.

7. The 21 Club: Finding the 21 Brightest “First Magnitude” Stars.
Your eye naturally finds the brightest objects in the night sky, so here are some tips for finding and identifying the 21 brightest stars.

8. Identifying UFOs.
Sometimes mysteries can be solved.

9. Archaeoastronomical Sites: Prehistoric Humans and Their Sky Gods.
Humankind has constructed monuments to the heavens for thousands of years.

10. Voyagers to the Stars: In 1977 NASA launched two spacecraft that would serve as humankind’s ambassadors to our galaxy.

11. The Hubble Space Telescope.
The view from one of the most important scientific instruments ever created.

12. The Race to Space: From Sputnik to Apollo.
How the competition between the USA and USSR from 1957 to 1969 took us to the moon and beyond.

13. Holst’s The Planets: A Multimedia Presentation.
Experiencing Holst’s great symphony through a knowledge of basic astrology, music appreciation and scientific and classical art images.

14. The Christmas Star (special holiday presentation).
The Star of Bethlehem has a special place in Christian tradition,and there are many modern interpretations of the account.

OTHER ACTIVITIES

1. On-deck nighttime starwatches

2. Workshop on astronomy software, apps and Web sites for iPhones/iPads, Android phones/tablets and Windows phones/Surface tablets/laptops.
CRUISE HISTORY / EXPERIENCE
2017
8/11 - 8/25/2017 Celebrity Millennium (Alaska)
7/30 - 8/11/17 Celebrity Silhouette (Baltic)
6/16 - 6/23/17 Celebrity Millennium (Alaska)
6/9 - 6/16/17 Celebrity Millennium (Alaska)
6/2 - 6/9/17 Celebrity Millennium (Alaska)
5/5 -5/15/17 Celebrity Equinox (Southern Caribbean)
4/17 - 4/26/17 Holland America, Maasdam (Transpacific)
4/2 - 4/16/17 Celebrity Eclipse (Southern and Eastern Caribbean)
3/26 - 4/2/17 Celebrity Silhouette (Eastern Caribbean)
3/18 - 3/25/17 Celebrity Reflection (Eastern Caribbean)
3/3 - 3/13/17 Celebrity Equinox (Eastern Caribbean)
2/5 - 2/19/17 Celebrity Constellation (Southeast Asia)
1/21 - 1/28/17 Celebrity Reflection (Eastern Caribbean)
1/3/17 - 1/20/2017 Holland America, Prinsendam (South America)
2016
12/3 - 12/18/2016 Holland America, Prinsendam (Amazon/Trinidad $ Tobago)
11/20 - 11/27/16 Celebrity Silhouette (Eastern Caribbean)
11/12 - 11/19/16 Celebrity Reflection (Eastern Caribbean)
9/18 - 10/2/16 Celebrity Summit (Northeast US and Canada)
5/17 - 6/2/16 Holland America, Prinsendam (Transatlantic)
5/8 - 5/15/16 Celebrity Summit (Bermuda)
5/1 - 5/8/16 Celebrity Summit (Bermuda)
4/16 - 4/30/16 Paul Gauguin, m/s Paul Gauguin (South Pacific)
3/27 - 4/10/16 Holland America, Eurodam (Transatlantic)
3/1 - 3/17/2016 Holland America, Volendam (Southeast Asia)
2015
12/20/2015 - 1/3/2016 Celebrity Infinity (South America)
12/5 - 12/20/15 Celebrity Infinity (South America)
11/4 - 11/16/15 Holland America, Amsterdam (Transpacific)
9/20 - 10/10/15 Oceania, Insignia (Indian Ocean)
9/5- 9/19/15 Princess, Caribbean Princess (North Atlantic)
8/23 - 8/30/15 Celebrity Constellation (Eastern Mediterranean)
8/16 - 8/23/15 Celebrity Constellation (Eastern Mediterranean)
8/9 - 8/16/15 Celebrity Constellation (Eastern Mediterranean)
8/2 - 8/9/15 Celebrity Constellation (Eastern Mediterranean)
7/11 - 7/19/15 Celebrity Constellation (Eastern Mediterranean)
7/1 - 7/11/15 Celebrity Constellation (Eastern Mediterranean)
5/1 - 5/20/15 Oceania, Nautica (India to Istanbul)
4/4 - 4/21/15 Oceania, Marina (Transpacific)
3/28 - 4/4/15 Paul Gauguin Cruises, m/s Paul Gauguin (South Pacific)
3/18 - 3/28/15 Paul Gauguin Cruises, m/s Paul Gauguin (South Pacific)
3/7 - 3/18/15 Paul Gauguin Cruises, m/s Paul Gauguin (South Pacific)
2/13 - 3/3/15 Holland America, Statendam (Transpacific)
1/19 - 2/6/2015 Holland America, Rotterdam (Athens to India)
2014
11/18 - 12/3/2014 Holland America, Statendam (South America)
10/25 - 11/5/14 Celebrity Constellation (Western Mediterranean)
10/4 - 10/21/14 Holland America, Volendam (Transpacific)
9/14 - 9/24/14 Siilversea, Silver Shadow (Alaska)
9/3 - 9/14/2014 Silversea, Silver Shadow (Alaska)

NOTE: Does not include voyages from February 1998 to September 2014 (75 cruises)
ADDITIONAL RELEVANT INFORMATION
USA Passport good into 2021.
India Multiple Entry Tourist Visa # ******464 good through January 6, 2025.
Argentina Migrations Office Reciprocity Fee # ****** good through December 22, 2025.
Brazil Multiple Entry Tourist Visa # *****0ML good through October 27, 2026.
Travel Guard "Business Traveler" Travel Insurance Annual Policy # *******368 good through July 27, 2018 (covers my work aboard cruise ships).

I have all my necessary Africa and other vaccinations (yellow fever, typhoid, hepatitis A & B, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, pneumonia, measles, mumps, rubella), 2016-17 influenza and have a current WHO/CDC yellow card.