The Global Search for Education: Star-Crossed Cowboys: A Blend of Humor and Astrophysics with Mark Kiefer

C. M. Rubin
3 min readJun 14, 2024


This month, audiences can screen Cowboy Astrophysicist on the Planet Classroom Network. This film is curated for the Planet Classroom Network by Planet Classroom.

Cowboy Astrophysicist is written, directed, produced, edited, and filmed by Mark Kiefer.

The story follows two cowboys camping under the stars as they explore the complex world of astrophysics. With one cowboy posing curious questions and the other offering detailed answers, this short film blends humor and science, creating an engaging and entertaining experience with a playful twist.

The Global Search for Education is pleased to welcome Mark Kiefer.

How did you come up with the concept of cowboys discussing astrophysics under the stars?

I took several astronomy classes in college and worked in the observatory as a research assistant, so the subject matter is a longstanding interest of mine. The juxtaposition of the bucolic simplicity of cowboy life and the intense complexity of astrophysics seems like a naturally funny combination.

What challenges did you encounter balancing the comedic and educational elements of this short film?

As is often the case with comedy, it was a bit hard to know if I was the only one who found this funny. For it to serve an educational purpose, the math needs to be exact, which creates a bit of a constraint on what the characters can say. However, I’ve found that these kinds of firm constraints often produce the best creativity, so it was a fun challenge.

How did you develop the contrasting dynamic between the two cowboy characters to make their interactions feel authentic and engaging?

The starting point was to assume that one character is quite learned in the subject of astrophysics, but this world was utterly unknown to the other, a bit like two people who don’t speak the same language trying to communicate. With that premise, almost anything they say can create an awkward misunderstanding, which in turn can create lots of comedy. At the same time, curiosity is a universal human idea that everyone shares regardless of their background or education, and this curiosity serves as the bridge between their two worlds and the basis for their conversation.

What do you hope audiences will take away from this unique blend of humor and science?

I hope to show the value of following our own curiosity and how we can often find wisdom where we least expect it.

Thank you Mark!

C. M. Rubin and Mark Kiefer.

Don’t Miss Cowboy Astrophysicist, now streaming on the Planet Classroom Network. This film is curated by Planet Classroom.