Astronomy magazine editors share their unique insight from behind the scenes of the science, hobby, and magazine.
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The Miracle Mineral That Shaped Astronomy

Posted 12 hours ago by Michael Bakich
A guest blog by Benjamin Palmer. Take a thoughtful glance around you. What do you see? Perhaps you’re ensconced in an office, fingers poised on a laptop’s trackpad, screen illuminating the paint on the walls. Maybe you’re gazing out the kitchen window, observing passing cars cast in the wash of street lamps below. You might even be out under the stars, eyes drawn from your Smartphone to the cosmic depths above. Three random scenarios, Venn-diagramed by unique grains of commo...
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Check out LA MoonWalk tomorrow

Posted 7 days ago by Michael Bakich
We just received an announcement for what looks to be a super-cool public astronomy gathering from our friend Michelle Meskill at Celestron. The company is organizing the event — called LA MoonWalk — to benefit The Planetary Society and FreeArts.org. And it’s happening tomorrow, Thursday, August 18, from 7 to 10 p.m., at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. Ticket prices range from $15 to $75. The program is to help promote the Planetary Society and their new initiative STEAM Team.&...
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Day 1 at San Diego Comic Con

Posted one month ago by Michael Bakich
The world’s greatest multigenre convention is taking place. San Diego Comic-Con International 2016 officially started Thursday, July 20, and runs through Sunday the 23rd. Actually, Preview Night occurred Wednesday, July 19, for professionals, exhibitors, and press like me. I was fortunate enough to be awarded press credentials for the fifth time. I’m here for the whole shebang, and I’ve already had a heck of a time, scientifically speaking, that is. Comic-Con started in 1970 a...
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A 2017 eclipse listening guide

Posted 2 months ago by Michael Bakich
Darkness at midday is coming. With less than 425 days to go before the total solar eclipse that will cross the U.S. on August 21, 2017, things are kicking into high gear. This event’s popularity will dwarf anything any of us have ever worked on. So, I’m writing stories about the eclipse for the magazine, I’ve given more than two dozen talks about it, and I’m hosting what might become the largest single science event in history in St. Joseph, Missouri. (Read all about it ...
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Listen to speakers at the national eclipse conference

Posted 2 months ago by Michael Bakich
It's Thursday, June 9. I am in Carbondale, Illinois, for the fourth meeting of the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse Task Force, sponsored by the American Astronomical Society. My wife and I drove here from Milwaukee earlier today, a pleasant 6-hour road trip. A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about this conference and told you that talks on the first day would be free to the public. I hope some of you chose to come and I can meet you tomorrow. If you’re weren't able to attend, but you’d like ...
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An eclipse conference in Carbondale

Posted 3 months ago by Michael Bakich
If you're planning on hosting or helping with an event for the upcoming August 21, 2017, total solar eclipse, where will you be June 10 and 11, 2016? On that Friday and Saturday, Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, will host the fourth 2017 Total Solar Eclipse Workshop, sponsored by the American Astronomical Union. And the group has invited the public in to hear the talks. Previous meetings in Baltimore, Maryland, Columbia, Missouri, and Portland, Oregon, were quite successful...
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Mercury, transits, and K'nex

Posted 3 months ago by Korey Haynes
I hope you got a chance to enjoy the transit of Mercury today! Most of the world had at least some chance to see it (sorry, Australia), and here in Wisconsin, we could view the whole event — or, we could have, if the weather had cooperated. I spent the day at Yerkes Observatory. The clouds were patchy, but we had solar telescopes for checking out the Sun directly, and projection boxes for a different kind of experience. Inside, we were running the SLOOH livestream, which I hope you got ...
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Astronomy as citizen science

Posted 4 months ago by Korey Haynes
This past Saturday, April 16, kicked off National Citizen Science Day (though events run throughout the month), and I spent it celebrating with the estimated 350,000 attendees of the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C. Visitors were mostly families, with kids of all ages eager to participate in hands-on science activities and to meet professionals from every imaginable science field. At Astronomy's booth, we were handing out solar viewing glasses in preparation for the Great...
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Buy and sell astronomy gear April 9

Posted 4 months ago by Michael Bakich
On Saturday, April 9, 2016, the Sheboygan Astronomical Society is hosting its ninth annual Swap ’N’ Sell. This year’s event, like the previous ones, will take place at the Aviation Heritage Center of the Sheboygan Airport in Wisconsin from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For those of you who own a GPS or like to use Google Maps or MapQuest, the address is N6191 Resource Drive, Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin 53085. Maybe you have some astronomy stuff like telescopes, eyepieces, accessories, camer...
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Become an OSIRIS-REx Ambassador

Posted 6 months ago by Michael Bakich
A guest blog by Dolores Hill Who in the world would spend their free time talking to the public about the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-Rex) mission and asteroids? OSIRIS-REx Ambassador volunteers and OSIRIS-REx team members, that’s who! We have a terrific group of volunteers who staff tables at public events such as the University of Arizona’s College of Science Lecture Series where the mission’s Principal Inves...
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Come enjoy a full day of astronomy

Posted 6 months ago by Michael Bakich
It’s almost here! Astronomy is in the astronomical capital of the universe, and we’re ready to rock. Here are the details: Event: The 2016 Tucson Star Party Date: Saturday, February 13 Time: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Venue: Pima Community College (PCC) East Campus, 8181 E. Irvington Road Location: Near the PCC observatory on the south side of campus Hosts: Astronomy magazine and the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association (TAAA) Other groups involved: The Southern Arizona chapter of the ...
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Geoff Notkin talks meteorites

Posted 6 months ago by Michael Bakich
Geoff Notkin is awesome. As an author, educator, musician, scientist, and someone who for three seasons played his real-life analog, one of the Meteorite Men in the TV show by the same name on the Science Channel, Notkin has seen a lot. Maybe not all of it, but a lot. And yet he remains one of the friendliest and most approachable people you’ll ever meet. Notkin and two employees are attending the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show under the banner of his company, Aerolite Meteorites. I stopped...
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I'm outraged! William Shatner doesn't have an asteroid???

Posted 7 months ago by Michael Bakich
Anyone remember this exchange from "The Immunity Syndrome," an episode of Star Trek (the Original Series):      Spock: Vulcan has not been conquered within its collective memory. The memory goes back so far that no Vulcan can conceive of a conqueror. I knew the ship was lost because I sensed it.      Kirk: What was it you sensed?      Spock: Touch of death.      Kirk: And what do you think they felt?   ...
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Come enjoy the 2016 Tucson Star Party

Posted 7 months ago by Michael Bakich
On Saturday, February 13, 2016, Astronomy magazine in conjunction with the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association (TAAA) will host the fourth annual Tucson Star Party at Pima Community College (PCC) East Campus. Activities will start at 10 a.m. and conclude around 9 p.m. The TAAA will have several properly filtered telescopes during the day to safely view the Sun. Visitors will see sunspots, prominences, and other solar activity. During the evening (starting around 6 p.m.), the club will dep...
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How to make a star system

Posted 7 months ago by Korey Haynes
Since astronomers first stared up at the wandering stars they eventually recognized as planets, they have mostly used our home solar system as the basis for how such celestial families form. And then, twenty years ago, astronomers started finding the first planetary systems other than our own. And all understanding went out the window.Our solar system has no Jupiter-size world orbiting close to our star. And while rare relative to other kinds of planets, we see hot Jupiters in abundance around o...
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Why do astronomers care about inclusivity?

Posted 7 months ago by Korey Haynes
The astronomy community has faced a lot of controversies in the past year. From the clash between the Thirty Meter Telescope and Native Hawaiian interests, to prominent astronomer Geoff Marcy stepping down over reports of sexual harassment, astronomers have spent a lot of time talking about things that are not, strictly speaking, science. As an astronomer who was actively doing research only a year ago, I can tell you that I wish I weren’t talking about it. But not talking about uncomforta...
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This telescope will capture the first image of a black hole

Posted 7 months ago by Korey Haynes
Trying to take a picture of even the closest black hole is like trying to resolve a DVD on the surface of the Moon. To do so, astronomers will need an Earth-sized observatory.Many people are drawn to astronomy by its beautiful images. Who hasn't been captivated by a glowing planetary nebulae, or the glittering sweep of a spiral galaxy? But sometimes astronomers study things you simply can't take a picture of. A game-changing exoplanet light-years away might be known only by its U-shaped li...
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Day 1 at AAS: Catching up on the Giant Magellan Telescope

Posted 7 months ago by Korey Haynes
Today, Tuesday, kicks off the 227th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Kissimee, Florida. Thousands of scientists are gathered to share their research and the latest developments in their field. I caught up with Patrick McCarthy, the interim president of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). Eventually comprising seven mirrors, each 8.4 meters in diameter, GMT will span 24.5 meters total and ring in the new generation of so-called "extremely large telescopes" in the 30-meter range....
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NASA should return to the Moon first, says the last man to step foot on it

Posted 8 months ago by Korey Haynes
Forty-three years ago to the day, humans left the surface of the Moon for the last time. Everyone remembers Neil Armstrong’s one small step. Far fewer can call to mind Eugene Cernan, who left mankind’s final footprint in the lunar dust. But far from defending his title as the last lunar explorer, Cernan argues strongly for a return to our closest celestial neighbor. "We've got to go back to the Moon," he urged a crowd gathered in Chicago last night to commemorate the anniversary of ...
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Capture Venus with your camera

Posted 10 months ago by Michael Bakich
If you’ve been outside before dawn lately under a clear sky, you’ve seen some cool planetary activity in the eastern sky. Venus, Jupiter, and Mars have been congregating near one another in the constellation Leo the Lion. Venus shines brightest (at magnitude –4.6). Jupiter shines only 8 percent as bright (at magnitude –1.8), but that’s still brighter than any star in the sky. Finally, Mars brings up the rear at magnitude 1.8. If the Red Planet is your favorite, don...
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White House Astronomy Night is tonight

Posted 10 months ago by Korey Haynes
This evening marks the White House's second-ever Astronomy Night. President Obama is hosting astronomers, engineers, scientists, and especially teachers and students for a night of stargazing and other hands-on astronomy activities. Guests can chat with astronomers, astronauts, and even Mythbusters, learn  astronomy-inspired stories and navigational techniques from Native American and Hawaiian traditions, and explore some of the latest technology innovations in space travel and astrophysica...
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The Advanced Imaging Conference wrap up

Posted 10 months ago by Michael Bakich
The Advanced Imaging Conference (AIC) concluded today. More than 350 imagers and manufacturers dedicated to imaging met in San Jose, California, for three intense days of learning, buying, and fun. Saturday was the big day, but today offered the talk “Eight Ways to Intensify Color” by R. Jay GaBany and an interview with noted imager Adam Block by Hubble Award recipient Ken Crawford. Everyone I talked to agreed: This was a great conference. The venue was new and easily held the reco...
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Day 2 of the Advanced Imaging Conference

Posted 10 months ago by Michael Bakich
The Advanced Imaging Conference (AIC) continues today in San Jose, California. Yesterday was filled with lots of conversations with imagers (both longtime contributors to the magazine and those who never have sent anything in) and manufacturers. If you’ve followed my recent blogs and writings, you know I’m totally aimed toward the 2017 total solar eclipse. So, I made sure to ask attendees what they’re doing on that day. I had a different question for manufacturers: What eclipse...
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Day 1 of the Advanced Imaging Conference

Posted 10 months ago by Michael Bakich
The 2015 version of the Advanced Imaging Conference (AIC) has gotten off to a strong start. I'm currently attending the 11th incarnation of this meeting in San Jose, California. This gathering always has been specifically geared toward astroimagers. And this year, the AIC board decided to expand their reach a bit. In the past, most of the imagers have concentrated on CCD cameras and deep-sky targets. But in 2015, there are talks about planetary imaging, wide-field imaging, and lots of attention ...
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Abundant Northern Lights continue to grace Astronomy's Norway cruise

Posted 10 months ago by Eric Betz
Mother Nature continues to deliver northern lights in abundance for our Astronomy magazine/TravelQuest International tour of Norway's Aurora, Culture, and Scenic Wonders.Aurorae struck for a third consecutive night on Thursday, adding to the general feeling of good luck onboard the Hurtigruten vessel MS Nordnorge. Even here north of the Arctic Circle, the weather is sunny and relatively warm during the day, with crisp, aurora filled evenings. Behind the glow, the northern skies brim with stars c...
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The evolution of eyepiece developments at Tele Vue

Posted 10 months ago by Michael Bakich
A guest blog by Al Nagler. Over the years, I’ve heard many interesting stories on the origin of the Nagler eyepiece, especially on Internet forums, so I thought I'd set down what I've discussed at many convention talks worldwide — while I still retain some memory faculty! Brief background I grew up in the Bronx. When I was 12, my father took me to the Hayden Planetarium, unleashing my enthusiasm for the magnificent universe we're so lucky to share. My 3.5-inch Skyscope reflector d...
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Solar storm smacks Earth, puts on celestial show

Posted 10 months ago by Eric Betz
Our ship was slowly trudging north up the Norwegian Coast toward the Arctic Circle last night when the captain announced the celestial show we'd all been expecting --  the aurora borealis. Before the night was out, green clouds would blanket the sky from horizon to horizon. These great, green cumuli would linger overhead for a while and then collapse into long concentric arcs that gradually began to dance. The twisting bands grew serated edges that chattered and shook like some heavenly mus...
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Presidential star party

Posted 10 months ago by Korey Haynes
The White House is throwing a star party, and President Obama is hosting. In 2009, which was also the International Year of Astronomy, the White House held its first Astronomy Night, with special guests including legendary astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Sally Ride, Mae Jemison, and John Grunsfeld. But Obama reserved his warmest welcome for two astronomers who discovered a supernova and a pulsar before they had even graduated high school. The president used these young scientists to highlight the impo...
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Eclipsed

Posted 11 months ago by Michael Bakich
“It’s like a finger pointing the way to the Moon … Don’t concentrate on the finger, or you’ll miss all that heavenly glory.” — Bruce Lee, Enter the Dragon Indeed, our lunar eclipse soirée on the shore of Lake Michigan provided a bit of lunar glory plus a lifelong memory for all who were there. I had sent out an invitation a week ago to co-workers, family, and friends, inviting them to a “picnic under the shadow.” After the email went...
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A guide to Comet Catalina

Posted 11 months ago by Michael Bakich
Recently, I received this brief story about an object in the current night sky from Neil Norman of Ipswich, England. Because this comet will reach perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) in mid-November, it couldn’t appear in print because that deadline has passed. So, we thought it best to reproduce the story here. Thanks for sending this, Neil! There's always something exciting, or dare I say magical, about a bright comet well placed over the festive period near year’s end. In 20...

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