Story assignments can be a challenge. After all, you are writing someone else’s vision of an article, and that can go well, or require staggering rewrites.

Scott Gaudi

But sometimes you luck into stories that are gifts from the literary gods, as they introduce you to characters and scenarios barely even imagined. And the education you receive is better than a college class.

Such has been the case this week as I write a profile on Professor Scott Gaudi, a near legendary astronomer at Ohio State, who discovers planets for a living, received a $775,000 career grant and recently got back from being feted by President Obama.

Yes, I did say discovers planets.

Scott alone fascinated me, but the story has also led me to his graduate students, his astronomy colleagues, the National Science Foundation in D.C. and even his second-grade teacher in Illinois. And with each call the story gets deeper and richer and more complex.

I have just over a week to get it don, and I am still massaging and shaping–and the way one source leads to information that leads to another source and another will make it the ideal teaching tool for my students next semester.

I welcome an assignment like this any day!