April Fools Day 2001: Disco Solar System and Steward Takeover

This year's April Fools Day prank executed by the LPL graduate students was twofold: first, convert our own atrium into a 1970's discotheque with solar system disco balls, and second, annex the Astronomy Department. For our own department we filled the director's office with balloons, put up posters of him as Austin Powers, covered the Kuiper photo with John Travolta, covered over the atrium with black plastic sheeting for mood effects, and strung the disco solar system from the next floor balcony. For Steward (the astro department), we put an "LPL Annex" sign outside the building, covered over many interior signs with LPL Annex signs, appointed Bob Brown in charge and put up his picture over the old Steward directors, and sent a strategic faked email from the Dean announcing the administrative shift.

Photos are below. Our department apreciated Disco Planet, but the annexation of Steward went far better than anyone could possibly have hoped for. Undergrads were wondering whether they had to switch their majors, and supposedly the head of Steward got a call from Science magazine (email) enquiring into the administrative shift. It doesn't get any better than that.


BIG image
The ballooning of Drake's office. It's amazing how long static electricity allows balloons to stick to things . . .
BIG image
Where they got those little torpedo balloons I don't know.
BIG image
Paul with his British Creation. Mike Drake looked surprisingly good stuck over Mike Myers' head, even with Liz Hurley next to him. Mike is, of course, smiling happily.
BIG image
Forming the Sun. This method of star formation is not common in the literature.
BIG image
Disco Solar System in preparation. A little fuzzy due to 1s exposure time.
BIG image
Hoisting the Solar System, the streak is the Sun.
BIG image
This is a test-lifting to mark the eventual locations of planets relative to the Sun in their lifted configuration.
BIG image
The Disco Solar System, with Uranus and Neptune on the far right.
BIG image
The DSS from the Sun side.
BIG image
The inner solar system, sunward of the snow line.
BIG image
The Disco from above.
BIG image
The entrance to Disco Planet, with bouncers Terry and Gwen.
BIG image
Pranking is hard work. Dave and Jason have been up all night at this point.
BIG image
A late-night group shot of those who were left, Dave, Terry, Gwen, and Jason.
BIG image
Our high-tech replacement plaques.
BIG image
LPL Professor Bob Brown gets a new office.
BIG image
The old director's office was moved to the Men's room, but tragically the cleaning crew took this sign away before the morning.
BIG image
Photos of the past directors of Steward Observatory were replaced with images of the new vice director.
BIG image
Bob ages well.
BIG image
In renaming the building we had intended to cover over the old sign, this one is entirely covered with duct tape on the back, and it was then hoisted onto the old concrete sign.
BIG image
Much to our dismay, duct tape does not stick to dusty concrete, and we unfortunately had to abandon this plan.
BIG image
We ended up sticking the sign to a window well that was difficult to access from below.
BIG image
The sign remained there for nearly a week! Silly astronomers.