Visiting writer Amy Shira Teitel tells hidden history of female astronauts

Mountains residents have a rare chance to see one of the world’s top science communicators when North American writer Amy Shira Teitel comes to Penrith Observatory on July 17.

“I’ll be talking about the women who took the astronaut qualifications in the 1960s but never flew,” Teitel said, “because it was America in the 1960s.”

A lifelong space history nerd, Teitel took her childhood fascination with the Apollo missions and turned it into a career as a spaceflight historian.

Author of the book Breaking the Chains of Gravity, Teitel has 250,000 Twitter followers and hosts the popular YouTube channel, Vintage Space. Her recent video about the forgotten female cosmonaut class in the Soviet Union racked up over 23,000 views in five days.

“Rather than retelling the glossy stories of astronauts, Vintage Space peels back the veneer to look at the real stories – the innovations that failed, the unrealised technologies and the human elements that are less publicity friendly so often remain buried.”

Teitel’s talk is being organised by Science at the Local, a community science initiative from the Lower Mountains featuring bi-monthly pub talks, a podcast and joint events with groups like bushcare.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for science, space and history lovers of all ages to learn about the history of spaceflight and meet a terrific communicator on a rare visit to Australia,” said Science at the Local’s Hamish Clarke. “Having it at a wonderful venue like the Observatory is the icing on the cake.

“After Amy's talk we'll be heading outside for a viewing session. Fingers crossed the clouds keep away.”             

The event is sponsored by Regional Development Australia – Sydney, which is part of the push to support women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). Science at the Local is supported by Winmalee and Springwood Neighbourhood Centres, Inspiring Australia and the NSW Government.

Teitel is at Western Sydney University Penrith Observatory, Great Western Highway, Werrington, on Tuesday, July 17, 6.30–9pm. Tickets, $16 at www.eventbrite.com.au.