Discover the Joyous Addiction of Databases and Data Science

It's a secret that most DBAs don't want 'app devs' to know: databases are fun and the job is rewarding... if you're good. See for yourself in this real-world journey using real data from Cassini's exploration of Saturn and its moon, Enceladus.

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You've found yourself in charge of a database full of critical data... now what?

Data is a powerful drug - it's the life blood of your business and it's often ignored and abused until it's far, far too late.

No on cares about the database until it's time to answer the tough questions.

So, uh, we're meeting with some VCs next week... can you write some queries for me? You're the one who knows SQL the best...

This is how I started my career in the database world: because I had to in order to save the project I was on. This is how DBAs are born: on the job and under fire.

Sound familiar? No one sets out to become a DBA, the job just lands in your lap. It's terrifying to some people, but for others it's the best thing that's ever happened to their career.

Wait... You Did What? Write a SciFi Book About PostgreSQL?

Yep, that's right! Why do programming books have to be academic walls of dry text? I learned more about rockets, Mars and space in general reading The Martian from Andy Weir than I ever did at school... why can't we learn about databases in the same way?

A Curious Moon is Dee's journal, chronicling her journey from intern to DBA pro – but there is so, so much more. You can't be a DBA unless you understand your data down to the bones, which is what Dee needs to do if she's going to succeed.

Her dataset is from Cassini, specifically its time spent flying by Enceladus, an icy little moon about 300 miles in diameter, orbiting Saturn smack in the middle of it's "E Ring". This moon has an ocean that's protected under and icy shell, but superheated at the poles, jetting plumes of seawater into space.

That seawater is just like our own and NASA thinks there might be life up there... the answer could be in the very data you're about to analyze.

A Treasure Trove

I’ve found the book to be a treasure trove of Postgres features. CTEs are blowing my mind right now. I’m a backend engineer, and I’ve been sharing what I’ve learned with my coworker who is a DBA. She is picking up some tips through me now! I haven’t found a good, engaging tutorial for these intermediate/advanced Postgres tricks, and "A Curious Moon" fills this gap. As a bonus, I’m also picking up some bash tips from the book.

Loren Stewart

You'll Dig In To The Most Amazing Dataset of Our Lifetime

I won't waste your time with sleep-inducing demos and examples - we're going to hit the ground running by importing millions of records into PostgreSQL right from the command line and then we're going to interrogate it for correctness. From there we put our detective hats on and get to work.

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Data Analysis

NASA is a very thorough organization, but it's staffed by humans and humans like spreadsheets and spreadsheets destroy data. You'll use mathematical analysis to verify flyby altitudes and speeds using data from the INMS during the 22 close encounters with Enceladus.

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Learn The CLI

We don't have time for fluffy tooling! Yes there are GUIs and visual tools out there, but SQL with PostgreSQL is simple and easy to use when describing the precise table and index set that you want.

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Cleaning Up Crap Data

You will become "data minded". You'll go through a basic audit process from real, raw data from JPL. It doesn't matter where the data is from, it will always have errors.

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Query Optimization

You'll speed up slow queries with built-in analysis tools and objects. The Cassini data dump is gigantic, and sifting through the analysis records can be time consuming! You'll use EXPLAIN and ANALYZE to figure out where to put your indexes and when it makes sense to build a materialized view, which is data cached on disk.

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Data Exploration

You'll sleuth through raw Cassini data using basic queries. Pulling data in is only part of the process – looking for clues and understanding what you're seeing is the next step. To do this you'll use Common Table Expressions, Full Text Search indexing and Windowing Functions.

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CSV Data Import

You'll import data like a pro, using the command line and a Makefile. There are GUIs you could use, but here at Red:4 we believe in keeping things simple and powerful.


I am loving the book! The narrative format is like no other programming book I've ever read, and it's really keeping me engaged and interested. I've struggled in the past to keep pushing through programming books that are dry & stock standard, but the characters in A Curious Moon make the book relatable and it makes me want to learn.

Meggan Turner

Learning SQL beyond simple SELECT/INSERT/UPDATE is the best approach. There are so many sql language constructs the most developers are unaware of. I really would recommend the curious moon book for some playful sql learning

Tobias Petry

Highly recommend A Curious Moon to anyone looking to hone their SQL skills. The book has such an unique style. It’s like reading The Martian.

Rolando Murillo

A Curious Moon: Exploring Cassini's Data with PostgreSQL

You can read books and blog posts about databases, relational theory and PostgreSQL but you won't actually learn the craft until you live it. It's not an easy job, but it's a very rewarding job.

That's my mission with A Curious Moon: to put you in the hot seat with Dee Yan, our fictional intern here at Red:4 Aerospace. She's handed the keys to the company database and asked to structure and analyze a giant set of data, yesterday, please.

You’ll take on this mission with Dee, starting out with the basics: creating tables and importing data. Soon, however, you’ll be awash in glorious SQL and data from space (the NASA/JPL archives of the Cassini mission), creating functions, common table expressions and calculating aggregates using window functions all in the name of science while trying to figure out if there’s life under the ice of a very curious little moon.

Learn Postgres the Fun Way $30.00

What the Hell Is Going On Up There?

I don't know... you tell me. There are some wild theories out there, but as data people we don't care about those... we let the data tell us what's going on.

That's what we do as data people: let the data tell us the story. It's all in there, and with Cassini's mission data we have a gigantic amount that we get to sift through for answers.

That you get to sift through. Buckle up! PostgreSQL is fun, but the data is the exciting part. When you're done here, you'll be able to run (and understand) one hell of an amazing database query. These results were dubbed a "smoking gun for life in the waters of Enceladus" by NASA itself.

Working With Data is Fun and Addictive

You can find this out for yourself using real data from the Cassini mission, probing it for real clues that could shed light on one of the greatest cosmic mysteries of our time: is there life under the ice of Enceladus? I didn't make this up - it's a real thing. Help me find out, won't you?

Count Me In!: $30.00