Chris Butler is an internationally renowned artist, public speaker, and educational program producer whose work focuses on science, nature, and maritime subjects. His illustrations have appeared in thousands of publications worldwide, from the Times of London to Scientific American. A graduate of California State University Fullerton’s school of Television and Film Production, Chris has served as a art director and animator on both educational and entertainment programs. Among his screen credits are the National Geographic IMAX film “Forces of Nature” (2003) and Griffith Observatory’s “Centered in the Universe,” (2006). Chris has produced and presented live science educational programming since 1985 which has been featured at hundreds of events.
Chris’s penchant for humorous and entertaining presentations has earned him the nickname “stand up comedian of the scientific world.” In 2004, he was honored to be the first (and as of 2008, the only) live planetarium lecturer aboard Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2, a venue to which he has returned many times. The world’s most luxurious ocean liner, Queen Mary 2 is the only vessel to feature its own planetarium theater. Its famed predecessor, the original Queen Mary, has also hosted Chris for appearances many times in Long Beach, California. On land, Chris serves as assistant art director for planetarium and exhibit programs for the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles and is a regular lecturer at dozens of science education venues across the country.
Chris’s unique art and presentation style reflects his diverse experience; he has been the director of a children’s science museum, a tour guide on the original Queen Mary, a technical illustrator, a representative for a telescope manufacturer, an amateur astronomer, and a financial analyst on the space shuttle program for Rockwell International.
Chris was the 2006 recipient of the Western Astronomical Association’s G. Bruce Blair Medal for service to astronomy, a prestigious award previously bestowed upon astronomer Sir Patrick Moore and famed illustrator Chesley Bonestell. Chris was also recognized in 2002 by having an asteroid named in his honor by the International Astronomical Union (minor planet 13543 Butler). In 2007, Chris was honored to be appointed the “Artist in Residence” of the Queen Mary. In 2008, Chris was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (F.R.A.S.) in recognition of his service to international science education; this organization was founded in 1820 and admission to its membership is only by reccomendation by an accomplished scientist or other Fellow of the Society.
The son of an engineer who worked on the development of the Apollo lunar spacecraft and the Space Shuttle (Robert E. Butler), Chris grew up with the space program. As a child, he would regularly visit the factory where spacecraft were being designed and built, meeting luminaries such as Werner von Braun and many astronauts. Many years later, Chris returned to work at the same location, providing a deeper personal insight into the technical accomplishments of the space program. Over the years, Chris has had the opportunity to meet and interview most of the astronauts who voyaged to the moon, such as Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Gene Cernan, Pete Conrad, Jack Schmitt, Dave Scott, Alan Shepard, and John Young.
An avid amateur astronomer, Chris brings direct experience with astronomy to his work. He has served as a vice-president and board member of the Orange County Astronomers (the largest organization of its kind in the world), and is a life member of the Los Angeles Astronomical Society. Chris’s maritime credentials include the Vice- presidency and board membership with the Steamship Historical Society of America’s Southern California Chapter.