Dr. José Morey, an expert in radiology, artificial intelligence and space science, has launched his third children’s book, “Good Night Little Astronomer.”
As part of the “Good Night” literature series for children ages three to five, this most recent addition explores the mind of a little girl as she dreams about “discovering planets and learning about the atmosphere, seeing objects outside of the Earth, and playing different roles,” he explained.
Morey, a Puerto Rican living in the U.S. mainland who is known as the ‘Intergalactic Doctor’ for his proficiency across multiple fields, said that the 28-page book also features illustrations of the Arecibo Observatory, thanks to an agreement between the entity and Ad Astra Media, the company developing the book series.
The story also brings attention to some of the Arecibo Observatory’s discoveries, such as the Crab Nebula neutron star. “We have to describe it in a way that might not be too on the nose, but a three- to five-year-old may start to learn about the amazing science that the Arecibo Observatory has discovered for us,” Morey said.
Each book in the “Good Night” series is available in both Spanish and English. Currently, “Good Night Little Astronomer” is sold on Amazon but, as with its predecessors, it will eventually be available at Walmart, Barnes & Noble, and other bookstores.
“Then, we have a new book that’s going to be coming out every two or three months. For the next 24 months, we have ‘Good Night Little Aviator,’ ‘Good Night Little Epidemiologist,’ ‘Good Night Little Computer Scientist.’ We have a bunch more that are coming out over the course of the next two years,” Morey added.
Arecibo Observatory a ‘Cornerstone’ in STEM
Asked to elaborate on the significance of showcasing the Arecibo Observatory in the “Little Astronomer” story, he said that the institution has been “a cornerstone of science and technology, not just for the Puerto Rican community, but also for the international community.” He stated that his goal, apart from inspiring kids to pursue STEM-related careers, is to shed awareness on Puerto Rico’s contributions to science and the island’s potential to become a key innovator.
“I wanted to bring attention to the importance that Puerto Rico has had in science and technology, specifically, space science and astronomical science, and the importance of this Observatory to the island and the space science community... We need to make sure that we don’t just rebuild the telescope, but we need to invest even more into the Observatory because it has done so much for space science and the island,” the medical doctor said.
On Dec. 2020, the international scientific community was shocked after the Arecibo Observatory’s radio telescope collapsed. In July, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved an investigation into the catastrophe. Meanwhile, a group of scientists wrote a report titled, “The Future of the Arecibo Observatory: The Next Generation Arecibo Telescope,” in which they underscored the need to rebuild the iconic telescope, saying that it will “serve the population of Puerto Rico by inspiring and educating new generations while contributing to the socioeconomics of the island.”
“We need to ensure that we rebuild and we need to ensure that we do something bigger and better,” Morey affirmed. “Beyond just the pure space science, we need to use it as it has been - we need to expand its reach so that it reaches young kids from all aspects of Latin America and all over the world to see Puerto Rico as this shining star of science that it can be. Also, have the brightest minds of the world be inspired to come to Puerto Rico to learn about science and to hopefully start science and other STEM businesses that will continue to transform the island into the Silicon Island that I believe it can be.”
A Call for Diversity
Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell, an astrophysicist who discovered the first radio pulsars, reported at the 2020 conference by the European Astronomical Society Annual Meeting that women comprise only 17 percent of all astronomers in the United States, while the world average is 19 percent. By making the protagonist a Chinese girl in their latest book, Ad Astra Media aims to foster diversity in this field. This same principle applies to the entire “Good Night” series, whose characters hail from different backgrounds.
“It’s a diversity-in-STEM series. This is our third book; every book has a different ethnicity or a different representation,” Morey explained. For instance, “Good Night Little Astronaut” features a girl, while “Good Night Little Doctor” stars an African-American boy.
Likewise, the people involved in the creative process of this series also represent different cultures and insights. “The people on our team are diverse - the writers in our team are, including myself and two other writers, about 66 percent women; we are about 66 percent Latinos, and then our illustrators are 100 percent African-American and 100 percent female. We bring diversity to the creative process as well,” Morey said.