MegaCon2024 will be hosted at the Orange County Convention Center on Feb. 1-4. This jam-packed event will feature celebrities and festivities in celebration of all-things comics, science fiction, horror, anime, gaming and cosplay. Some celebrity appearances include Tom Hiddelston, Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen and Michael J. Fox.

Joining the convention’s celebrity lineup will be a few of UCF’s own stars.

On Saturday, Feb. 3, at 10 a.m., UCF Pegasus Professor of Physics Joshua Colwell, associate lecturer of physics James Cooney and physics postdoctoral scholar Audrey Martin will record an episode of their Walkabout the Galaxy podcast with special guest Brendan Byrne, NPR space contributor and host of the Are We There Yet? podcast.

The topic will be “When Will we Walk on Mars?”

“Recording our podcast with a live audience always brings new energy to the show, so we are happy to do live recordings like this one at MegaCon,” Colwell says. “We’ll be joined by longtime friend of the show and WMFE Space Reporter Brendan Byrne to talk about one of the main themes of his show Are We There Yet? on WMFE, Central Florida’s NPR station: “What is the status of humanity’s quest to get people to the surface of Mars?”

Martin says she’s always excited to do live recordings and is looking forward to interacting with the audience.

“I’m always excited to see the costumes and some of the other talks and creators,” says UCF Associate Professor of Physics Adrienne Dove.

“This will be my second MegaCon, so I hope to be able to take in a bit more of the cool talks, creators and costumes,” Martin says.

On Sunday, Feb. 4, at 11:45 a.m., Associate Professor of Physics Adrienne Dove will join Colwell for a presentation at MegaCon titled “What Is a Class M Planet?”

Star Trek called planets that were similar to Earth, or able to support Earth-like life, “Class M” planets, Colwell says.

“In the decades since that show first aired, we have discovered more than 5,000 exoplanets in a wide variety of types, many not even imagined in Star Trek,” he says. “We’ll explore the different types of planets and offer our own take on the Star Trek planet classification system.”

Colwell is no stranger to MegaCon or science fiction. He’s an avid Star Trek fan and has appeared in TV shows and film, including the 1998 movie Deep Impact, for which he also served as a technical consultant.

The full schedule of panels and events is available on MegaCon’s website. UCF attendees are encouraged to share their MegaCon experiences by tagging @UCF on social media.