Laura's Open Road

LAURA DANLY

Astronomer/Curator
Griffith Observatory

“Every day of your life, you have the right to choose what you will accept and what you won't accept. And that's the craft and art of making your own life.”

INTERESTS:

Environment & Nature Science

THEMES DISCUSSED:

Courage Fear Perseverance Pressure Fulfillment Transitions Choices Values Confidence

TAGS:

art, astronomy, being scared, changing, feeling invisible, female, gender, grad school, Hubble telescope, invisibility, NASA, other side, people, physics, planetarium, rejection, science, space, starting over, travel

BIOGRAPHY:

Laura Danly is disarmingly down-to-earth, but this accomplished astronomer has been reaching for the stars since childhood. Captivated by the endless stretch of twinkling night sky, Laura knew when she was in diapers that space would be her life’s work. Now in her 50s, she still has her head in the clouds: She holds a Ph.D in astronomy, has worked at the NASA’s coveted Space Telescope Science Institute, and currently produces planetarium shows at the Griffith Observatory. Her dreams of professional star-gazing have come true, but her journey hasn’t been without obstacles. As a female in a field dominated by men, Laura has sometimes wrestled with a latent bias that can ignore female opinion. But she hasn’t endured it passively—in1992, she joined forces with female colleagues to write The Baltimore Charter for Women in Astronomy, a treatise on improving gender equality in the field. Laura has also taken giant leaps in the pursuit of her own personal happiness. She ultimately left NASA—an organization she had idolized since before she could even walk–because it wasn’t the right fit for her. The decision tormented her initially, but she listened to her intuition and pushed the ‘restart button.’ She’s restarted at least a half a dozen times since then and isn’t afraid of reinventing herself anymore—in fact, she looks forward to it. She encourages everyone to follow their heart, reject the things they don’t love, and never be afraid of the unknown.

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