Parker grew up in Bellingham, Washington, just north of Seattle - a region known for its gray, cloudy skies and frequent rainfall. Still, he managed to become an enthusiastic amateur astronomer despite the weather, and an introductory astronomy course in college convinced him to pursue his PhD in that field.
Planets are his thing - especially the minor planets in our own solar system. "They may be the vermin of the skies to some, but minor planets give us a tangible window into the early history of our solar system and the mechanics of planet formation, and I really enjoy studying them," Parker said.
He's also keen on creating video animations based on observational data, "mostly for the purposes of giving talks and having some eye-candy to show my audience." Eventually he started setting them to music - of a sort.
For instance, in "Supernova Sonata," he paired eye-popping images of supernovae with notes determined by various properties of those objects: distance determined the volume of the tone, how quickly the light brightened and faded determined the pitch of the note, and the mass of the host galaxy determined the instrument - high mass galaxies corresponded to a contrabass, while low-mass galaxies corresponded to a grand piano.