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NEAF  searches the world to bring you the astronomers, researchers, scientists, and personalities that are making science history today. 

No where else will you find such an extensive caliber of talent brought together in one place.

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Eileen Collins

EILEEN COLLINS was the first female pilot and first female commander of a Space Shuttle.  She is a retired NASA astronaut and United States Air Force colonel and a former military instructor and test pilot.  She was awarded several medals for her work. Colonel Collins has logged 38 days 8 hours and 20 minutes in outer space. Collins retired on May 1, 2006, to pursue private interests, including service as a board member of USAA.

Space Shuttle Commander

Holly Ridings

First Female Chief Flight Director, deputy program manager for NASA’s Gateway project.


HOLLY RIDINGS began her NASA career in 1997 at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, before becoming a flight controller at NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas, where she led teams supporting the International Space Station.  Holly Ridings, the first female chief of NASA’s flight directors, will now help lead the agency’s Gateway Program, an international partnership to establish humanity’s first space station around the Moon.
In her new role, Ridings will serve as the deputy program manager, where she will lead teams to build and launch NASA’s foundational infrastructure in deep space.

Gerry Griffin 

GERRY GRIFFIN served as a flight director during the Apollo program and director of Johnson Space Center, succeeding Chris Kraft in 1982 Flyer.  In 1964 Griffin joined NASA in Houston as a flight controller in Mission Control, specializing in guidance, navigation and control systems during Project Gemini. In 1968 he was named a Mission Control flight director and served in that role for all of the Apollo Program manned missions including all manned missions to the Moon.

Apollo Flight Director 

Jonathan Ward



JONATHAN H. WARD is an author and lifelong amateur astronomer. His love for bringing the wonders of space exploration to life for the public began early when he volunteered as a tour guide at the Smithsonian Museum during the Apollo 15 and 16 missions. He continues public outreach today, as a Solar System Ambassador for NASA and as a frequent speaker on space exploration.  He is the author of Through the Glass Ceiling to the Stars: The Story of the First American Woman to Command a Space Mission (

 2021)  Bringing Columbia Home: The Untold Story of a Lost Space Shuttle and Her Crew  (2018)
Countdown to a Moon Launch: Preparing Apollo for Its Historic Journey ( 2015)
Rocket Ranch: The Nuts and Bolts of the Apollo Moon Program at Kennedy Space Center ( 2015)

Jonathan Ward
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Felix Schlang

FELIX started his career in space news reporting in 2019 with the launch with of his YouTube channel What about it!?  and in only a few short years has become one of the most prominent and respected sources of news regarding  all things in the exciting world of private space development. In his weekly videos he brings us up to date with everything concerning SpaceX, Blue Origin, Rocket Lab and all the upstart companies developing new rockets.   In this short time he has achieved 2 million views on his videos and live streams to 60,000 people on YouTube. 

Space news reporter and host of YouTube’s What about it!? 

Jani Radebaugh

Dragonfly: Aircraft Explorer for Saturn's Moon Titan


The newly selected, $1 billion NASA mission Dragonfly, now in design, is a quadcopter-like rotorcraft lander for Titan. This capable spacecraft will image the surface up close, in the vein of Mars rover exploration, but could vastly outstrip these rovers in ground coverage, easily exceeding several hundred miles. And it will analyze samples, helping us understand if conditions are right for life in the distant reaches of our solar system.  JANI RADEBAUGH is a planetary scientist and an Science Team Member for the newly selected Dragonfly rotorcraft lander mission to Saturn’s moon Titan. 

Nagin Cox
Nagin Cox

JPL Systems Engineer- Mars Rover Mission


NAGIN COX graduated from Cornell University with a BS in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering and was commissioned as an officer in the US Air Force. She worked in F-16 Aircrew Training and received a masters degree in Space Operations Systems Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology.  As a captain, she served as an Orbital Analyst at NORAD/Space Command in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado Springs.  In 1993, Nagin joined the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and has since served as a systems engineer and manager on multiple interplanetary robotic missions including NASA/JPL’s Galileo mission to Jupiter, the Mars Exploration Rover Missions and the Kepler telescope mission to search for Earth-like planets around other stars

Alyssa Pagan

Webb Imagery, The Art and Science in Translating Cosmic Infrared Light 


Alyssa Pagan is a Science Visuals Developer in the Office of Public Outreach at the Space Telescope Science Institute. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in art and design from Towson University and a second bachelor’s in Astronomy from the 

University of Maryland, College Park. Leveraging art and science, Alyssa applies an in-depth technical understanding of image formats, image quality, resolution, color management, metadata, and photo printing, along with the principles of photography and design to the presentation of astronomical data.
The amazing visions from the Webb Space Telescope have captivated the world. However, there is a long and involved process by which the scientist's black and white observational data are transformed into dynamic color imagery for the public. Join image specialist Alyssa Pagan as she discusses the art and science of translating infrared light into amazing images.

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JOE RAO is the eight-time Emmy nominated meteorologist and on air personality.  In addition to his on-air fame, Joe is also an avid amateur astronomer.  He has co-lead several eclipse expeditions and served as an on-board meteorologist for three eclipse cruises. He is also an Associate and Guest Lecturer at the Hayden Planetarium, a Contributing Editor for S&T magazine and also writes for, Natural History magazine, and the Farmers’ Almanac.

Hosted by Joe Rao


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and Vince Coulehan

VINCE COULEHAN takes center stage as your NEAF Talks Master of Ceremonies.  Vince is an avid astro-imager and has been chasing the world for over five decades as an amateur astronomer to witness, now nine total solar eclipses.   He is  an active member with the AAVSO as well as a key NEAF organizer and a primary board member at Rockland Astronomy.    He has been active with outreach to bring astronomy and observing to students at high schools and elementary schools for over 20 years.  Vincent has an ME in Mechanical Engineering from Manhattan College.

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