College of Science

Astrophysics grad student Pizzetti to give talk at TEDxMirandola in Italian hometown


As a child, Andrealuna Pizzetti called the moon her sister. Now, she will give a TED talk about her cosmic sibling. 

During the June 24 TEDxMirandola in Italy, Pizzetti will discuss what the world, society and technology would look like if the moon were destroyed or had never formed.

“If you think about the 1950s and the ‘60s, everyone wanted to go to the moon. So, if there was no moon, how would that have looked?” asked Pizzetti, who is a graduate student in the Clemson University Department of Physics and Astronomy. “How much different would the Space Force and our upcoming space missions look if we had never been to the moon?”

Pizzetti will dive deep into these questions, using the knowledge she has gained from following her passion for the stars. 

A moon in a black sky
In her TEDxMirandola talk, Andrealuna Pizzetti will explore the fate of our planet if the moon had never existed.

Pizzetti earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Bologna. She decided to pursue a doctorate at Clemson after seeing a flyer for the University on a bulletin board and contacting Marco Ajello, an associate professor in the Clemson Department of Physics and Astronomy. Ajello is now her adviser.

For Pizzetti, who had a lifelong dream of becoming an astronomer, pursuing an astrophysics doctorate seemed natural.  

“When you do a Ph.D., you really need to love what you’re doing,” she said. “Since I was a kid, I’ve always been in love with astronomy.”

Her very first memory was seeing the Hale-Bopp comet in the night sky at around 4 years old. 

When she was 10, she got her first astronomy book, and her mom took her to the local observatory. Eventually, she began to volunteer at that same observatory. 

Outreach has always been important to her.

“For 12 years before coming to the U.S., I used to volunteer in the local observatory. That’s a place where I feel happy, and when I talk about stars and what you see in the sky.” 

A woman with black hair in front of a telescope.
Andrealuna Pizzetti

While she is in Clemson, she does outreach in a different way. She is a part of a YouTube channel called On Planet Nine. The channel breaks down astrophysical topics and explains them for all people to learn. 

“I can explain to you the same phenomena with equations, but also with words and in different ways so that you can understand,” Pizzetti said. 

Her TEDx talk is another opportunity for Pizzetti to talk about what she loves and to educate people through an accessible platform. She strives to make intimidating topics like astronomy and physics something everyone can learn about. 

“Everyone always tells me, ‘Oh, you must be a genius because you do astrophysics.’ It’s like, ‘No, that’s not true. I’m just a normal person.’”

Pizzetti’s love for the stars and for teaching people about them fuels her ambition to become an educator one day. 

“You just need to find the right language to explain to people even the most difficult thing, and that’s something I’ve always loved to do,” she said.

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