Astronomy magazine editors share their unique insight from behind the scenes of the science, hobby, and magazine.
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Come enjoy a full day of astronomy

Posted 44 minutes 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 yesterday 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 15 days 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 23 days 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 one month 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 one month 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 one month 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 one month 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 one month 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 3 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 3 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 3 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 3 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 3 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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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Live tweeting against this week's apocalypse -- and next week's too

Posted 4 months ago by Eric Betz
Meet NASA’s woman in charge of fighting doomsday asteroids using less than 140 characters.Veronica McGregor is a patient person. Every day, she uses 140 characters or less to knock down doomsday rumors from worried souls convinced the world will end today, or next week, or sometime in 2022. This time, the hype surrounds an imaginary asteroid that will hit Earth any day now and may or may not be related to the September 27 lunar eclipse. The Chilean earthquake this week didn’t help c...
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A September Galaxy Ride

Posted 5 months ago by Korey Haynes
On September 18, a group of astronomers and educators will set off on bikes from their home base at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium, scant feet from the shore of Lake Michigan, and travel south for 300 miles (500 kilometers) on the historic Route 66 bike trail. They’ll end their trip in St. Louis, Missouri — or the Andromeda Galaxy, depending on how you reckon it. Along the way, they’ll make six stops, including the Moon (Joliet, Illinois), Kuiper Belt (Normal), and Alpha Cen...
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Telescopes and talks from Stellafane 2015

Posted 5 months ago by Michael Bakich
Recently, Contributing Editor Phil Harrington attended the 2015 Stellafane conference. Here is his account, arranged as a brief introduction and a series of captioned images. More than 1,000 people attended the 80th Stellafane convention in Springfield, Vermont, held August 13-16, 2015. “Stellafane,” a contraction from the Latin phrase Stellar Fane, meaning “Shrine to the Stars,” is the oldest amateur astronomy convention in the United States, if not the world. Stellafa...
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To the stars through Doctor Who

Posted 5 months ago by Karri Ferron
Guest blog by Lindsay Henderson, a senior medical student and M.D. candidate from All Saints University, Dominica, specializing in neurology. Having been inspired into the sciences by her geology professor grandfather Bob, she now spends her free time introducing and encouraging young children and students to explore the hard science fields. “Through crimson stars and silent stars and tumbling nebulas like oceans set on fire; through empires of glass and civilizations of pure thought, and...
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Milwaukee meteor fest

Posted 6 months ago by Michael Bakich
Yes, you can see meteors from Milwaukee. Well, at least from a site slightly north of Brew City. Last night (August 12 — the only night near the maximum of the Perseid meteor shower that promised clear skies), my wife, Holley, and I decided to pack some reclining chairs, blankets (it is the frozen north, after all), and snacks, and head to Harrington Beach State Park, near Belgium, Wisconsin, a location roughly 35 miles (56 kilometers) north of Milwaukee’s city center. A local astr...
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IAU day 5: Viewing the Sun with radar

Posted 6 months ago by Korey Haynes
Following my post from yesterday about radar, Monday at the International Astronomical Union (IAU) meeting revealed yet more radar tales. Miller Goss from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) shared the story of how the first original records of solar radio astronomy were lost for decades and then found only last year. Joseph L. Pawsey (1908-1962) was not the first to detect the Sun in radio emission, but earlier records have also been lost. To Goss' knowledge, the newly discovered d...
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IAU day 4: Radar from WWII to the outer solar system

Posted 6 months ago by Korey Haynes
I'm still nominally at the International Astronomical Union meeting here in Honolulu. But most of the astronomers have taken a break for the weekend, leaving me to amuse myself for some of the time. This morning, I hopped a bus over to Pearl Harbor to view the memorial of the USS Arizona, one of the battleships struck and sunk on December 7, 1941, in the attack on Pearl Harbor that toppled the United States into World War II. Walking over the sunken battleship and the men entombed there to this...
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IAU day 2: What makes a brown dwarf?

Posted 6 months ago by Korey Haynes
[Updated August 10] My second day at the International Astronomical Union's (IAU) general assembly meeting featured one of my favorite parts about attending science conferences: watching scientists fight! OK, astronomers are a pretty friendly bunch, so by "fight," I mean "spirited but polite debate." Nonetheless, this kind of dialog is why conferences are important, so I'm always excited to see it in action. In this particular case, I was enjoying a talk about the boundary between planets ...
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Aloha from the IAU

Posted 6 months ago by Korey Haynes
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) holds its general assembly meeting only once every three years, for two full weeks. This is the meeting that infamously stripped Pluto of its planethood in 2006. This year, the resolutions up for vote cover technical points about mathematical conversion factors, but also crucial protection of the airwaves that radio astronomers use to study the cosmos. Voting by the IAU members won't occur until the conference's end. So until then, the attendees will fo...
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Only 750 days until the eclipse

Posted 6 months ago by Michael Bakich
Saturday, August 1, marks another milestone in the countdown toward the biggest public science event in history — 750 days until the total solar eclipse August 21, 2017. Rather than write a long blog about the importance of it, I’ll direct you to the one I wrote at the 800-day-out mark. If you’re just learning about this event, or want a refresher course on the facts, head here. And if you’re wondering where to go for the eclipse, you can zero in on the best locations w...

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