Abigail Bollenbach advanced her astronomy interests from the early age of 10 when she first discovered the Hubble Deep Field Image and began to study all things astronomy online. She has been a member of Bartlesville Astronomical Society (BAS) since 2015, when she attended her first-star party. Abigail has been a presenter for BAS since 2016, providing not only monthly PowerPoint summaries of current astronomy and space news but also presented on main topics such as famous rocket crashes, how to make an astrophotography tracking mount, Northern sky constellations, and quasars.
As of 2020 Bollenbach is 18 years old and a home-school graduate, she plans to continue her education after high school, focusing on astronomy and astrophysics in college, beginning with an undergraduate degree in physics. Abigail retired from a 13-year dance career in December 2017 as a company member ballerina from the Bartlesville Civic Ballet and started working part-time, now full-time in a biochemistry lab as a Nanoparticulate Specialist and Experimental Research Design Assistant. Bollenbach is involved in many other activities in addition to her astronomy and science studies, including yoga, writing poetry, guitar, singing, photography, and roller skating.
Brilliant and multi-talented, we asked Abigail to put into her own words her interests and thoughts of what lies ahead in her life: "My fields of interest include science, astronomy, and astrophysics. I aspire to continue my passion for studying astronomy and astrophysics by going to college to work very diligently toward higher education degrees. My dream is to work for the opportunity after my schooling to be a scientist for NASA, SpaceX, ESA, or any other cutting edge space-related organization to increase our understanding of the universe. My options for a career in these fields are almost limitless because there are so many space-related companies pushing the envelope today."
In June of 2018, Abby attracted attention by presenting for the Mid States Regional Astronomical Convention in Arkansas on the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn that was exceptionally well received by some 80-90 veteran astronomers. The 16,000 member Astronomical League selected her in July of 2018 for the prestigious "Horkheimer-Smith 1st place, Youth Service Award". In 2018, The Tulsa World published her op-editorial "From Dolls to Dinosaurs" about women and girls successfully pursuing careers in STEAM.
In conjunction with Explore Scientific, January of 2019, she organized members of her adult and youth astronomy club to sort through 50,000 donated solar glasses, of which 10,000 were salvaged and shipped to Los Angeles to Astronomers Without Borders. These glasses, along with approximately another 1 million sorted by the NWA Space, Explore Scientific Telescopes, and Sugar Creek Astronomical Society of Springdale, Arkansas, were sent free of charge to schools and institutions in countries where they aren't available to safely view the South American Total Solar Eclipse in July 2019.
Bollenbach created and administers a Pinterest social media page for astronomy news. In 2016, Abigail was a founding member and assisted in organizing the BAS youth auxiliary group, the Bartian Youth Astronomers (BYA), where as a Youth Leader, she presents main topics, assists with meetings, greets attendees, and helps set up new members and visitors.
In addition, Abigail enjoys assisting with and presenting for multiple outreach programs for local schools, festivals, libraries, and other clubs in 6 different states. She especially enjoyed organizing the 2017 BYA "total solar eclipse trip" to Booneville, Missouri, and a tour of the Morrison Observatory in Fayette, Missouri.
"Infinity and Beyond" Series
In June of 2020, Astronomy Magazine began a series of bi-weekly videos written and presented by Abby entitled Infinity and Beyond. Episodes are approximately 6 minutes long, supported by varying graphics and images. Bollenbach discusses various astronomical, cosmological, and space-related subjects like the Big Bang, Exoplanets, the Moon's formation, latest and upcoming space missions like Artemis on the Moon, and Ingenuity on Mars. The videos have been well received and are available on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Astronomy Magazine's website.
Recognitions and Awards
In 2019, Abigail Bollenbach was chosen as one of the Mars 24 Under 24, Leaders in Space and STEAM Award. Recently, she filed a patent for gamma-ray shielding to make space travel less harmful to biological entities titled "Quantum Locked Fluxon Shielding." Also, she wrote and narrated a show that premiered in February of 2020 at the Jenks Planetarium – "Earth to Saturn" that will be distributed nationwide to various planetariums in 2021.
Abigail is also an accomplished pianist as the "State, 1st place Piano Winner for the 2015 Oklahoma Music Teacher's Association competition as well as a seven-consecutive-year top-winner of the National Piano Guild with the American College of Musicians.