Astronomy magazine editors share their unique insight from behind the scenes of the science, hobby, and magazine.
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Legendary planetary imager Don Parker passes away

Posted 3 days ago by Michael Bakich
On Sunday night, February 22, world-renowned planetary imager Donald Parker of Coral Gables, Florida, died after a long battle with lung cancer. Parker was a longtime contributor to Astronomy magazine, and imagers around the world followed and mimicked his techniques. He wrote stories spanning two decades for the magazine about Mars, including "1988: A great year for Mars" in the March 1988 issue and "Relive the Red Planet's big show" in the June 2006 issue. Parker also contributed to a well-r...
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Talking about the eclipse in Tucson

Posted 14 days ago by Michael Bakich
Most of what I’ve written on this website and elsewhere in the past six months has been in some way related to the total solar eclipse people across the United States will experience August 21, 2017. So, it should come as no surprise that while Astronomy’s Editor David J. Eicher and I are in Tucson, that very subject should come up. In fact, it came about because a while back my dear friend Dave White asked me to speak to the Rotary Club of Tucson, of which he’s a member, abou...
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Only a few weeks left to win $2,500 for your astronomy outreach efforts!

Posted 15 days ago by Michael Bakich
With just two weeks to go before the closing date for Astronomy magazine’s 2014 Out-of-this-world Award, I wanted to post a reminder about this great opportunity.If you’re part of a nonprofit group in the United States that presents the wonders of astronomy to the public, you’re eligible for this $2,500 outreach award. Based on when proposals arrived in the past few years, I’m sure there are still organizations out there that are eligible for this prize but simply haven&r...
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Enter the Coolest Space Facts Contest

Posted 22 days ago by Karri Ferron
Astronomy's March issue, on newsstands now, marks the 500th issue the magazine has had since it was first published in 1973. To mark the milestone, we're exploring "The 500 Coolest Things About Space." The list was a lot of fun for the staff to put together. After all, covering the coolest things about our favorite subject is really why we work for the magazine in the first place.Each of us has our favorites among the various facts you’ll find throughout the special “500 coolest thin...
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Fire and ice

Posted 29 days ago by Michael Bakich
Astronomy columnist Adam Block, who works at the University of Arizona’s Mount Lemmon SkyCenter, has sent in another guest blog. After the great reaction we saw from his first post, we’re proud to continue the series. Few things are more informative or compelling than contrast. The ability to see the predator about to eat you, the signage on the roadway, or the darkening clouds on the horizon may very well be key to your survival. It is no wonder then that when we find contrasting f...
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2015 Youth Essay Contest deadline fast approaches

Posted 29 days ago by Karri Ferron
Attention U.S. students 17 and under! With less than one week until the deadline for Astronomy magazine’s 2015 Youth Essay Contest, I wanted to make sure everyone knows about this great opportunity.It’s your time to tell Astronomy magazine and the Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF), one of the world’s premier expos on the hobby, what you love best about astronomy. Share your story in 300–500 words, and you could win two round-trip airline tickets and hotel accommodations fo...
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Six great years of 365 Days of Astronomy

Posted one month ago by Michael Bakich
Longtime readers of Astronomy will recognize the name Pamela Gay. A former associate editor here at the magazine, she now teaches at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. Gay is a well-known astronomy popularizer and podcaster. She recently sent me the following information about a pretty cool event that stretches through the whole year: In 2009, the world celebrated the United Nations-endorsed International Year of Astronomy. One enduring legacy of that special year is the 365 Day...
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2015: The year of the weird

Posted one month ago by Karri Ferron
Whether relatively close to home or billions of light-years from us, the cosmos is filled with weird and wacky wonders. After all, as Contributing Editor Bob Berman aptly demonstrates each month in Astronomy magazine, we really do live in a strange universe. And now, in 2015, Berman is going to guide Astronomy magazine subscribers among the 50 strangest and most fascinating oddities he's come to know over the years. Each week, he'll explore an object that he believes should be inducted into the ...
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Tiny lander lost and found

Posted one month ago by Korey Haynes
Today, the University of Leicester announced that they have identified the remains of Beagle 2, a Mars lander presumed lost over a decade ago. Beagle 2 hitched a ride to the Red Planet on the European Space Agency's Mars Express (still in operation) back in 2003. It was a tiny lander, built to carry-on size for its orbiting partner. A joint effort between several UK universities and corporations (including the University of Leicester, the Open University, and EADS Astrium), Beagle 2 was supposed...
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The 2015 Tucson Public Star Party is a go!

Posted one month ago by Michael Bakich
On Saturday, February 14, 2015, Astronomy magazine will host the third annual all-day skywatching party at the East Campus Observatory of Pima Community College (PCC). The event also will feature illustrated talks on a variety of subjects. Activities begin at 10 a.m. and continue all the way through 9 p.m. This year’s speakers include Jim O’Connor of the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association (TAAA). At 11 a.m. in PCC's Community Room (quite near to the observatory), Jim will present ...
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Testing the identity of dark matter

Posted one month ago by Korey Haynes
The American Astronomical Society (AAS) winter meeting is big enough that no matter your particular area of interest, there's sure to be something to grab your attention. If cosmology is your favorite topic, then you were in luck. There were talks ranging from inflation and parallel universes to the most recent Planck results (in case you're wondering, the universe is still flat). One highlight was the Royal Astronomical Society Gold Medal Talk, given by Carlos Frenk from the University of Dur...
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2015: Year of the exomoon?

Posted one month ago by Korey Haynes
By the last day of the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle, attendees can tend to feel all astronomy-ed out. But if you persevered until Thursday, you were gifted with still more great talks and presentations, including a session on habitability. One of my personal favorites was an update by David Kipping on his Hunt for Exomoons with Kepler (HEK). Aside from just being an interesting way to understand when and how moons form, moons around exoplanets could be a huge win for astrob...
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Happy birthday, Hawking

Posted one month ago by Eric Betz
The world's most famous cosmologist celebrates his 73rd birthday today.The occasion marks 52 years since doctors told the then 21-year-old Stephen Hawking that he would ultimately die of the motor-neuron disease that eventually claimed all of his physical capabilities, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Thankfully, they were wrong.Despite his declining physical state, Hawking persisted in his Herculean mental feats and enriched our understanding of black hole cosmology in the process.  His life...
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Are multiverses science or science fiction?

Posted one month ago by Eric Betz
That was the question posed by Max Tegmark of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle on Wednesday.Tegmark is a renowned theoretical physicist and author of the recently published Our Mathematical Universe (Knopf, 2014). By studying inflation, which he believes can be proven, there could be a scientific route to testing theories of parallel universes, Tegmark says.He proposes four levels of multiverses might be possible. The first model w...
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Is eyepiece time on a world-class telescope worth more than a Super Bowl ticket?

Posted one month ago by Eric Betz
Before your eyeball even approaches the glass, you notice a green glow pushing out from the eyepiece and spilling across the pitch black room. And as you peer through the telescope, the Orion Nebula (M42) comes into glorious focus. This diffuse nebula has long proven itself a hit during public viewing nights on instruments across the country.But this is not your average instrument. This is the 4.3-meter Discovery Channel Telescope, recently built at a dark-sky site in Arizona and equipped with a...
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Making dreams reality

Posted one month ago by Korey Haynes
One of the coolest things about being at the American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting is hearing about the future of space science straight from the source. Last night I got to hear about the far future of space observatories — what comes after the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), set to launch in 2018. The next, next big project, currently dubbed the High Definition Space Telescope (if you don't like it, the name will almost certainly change before launch), imagines the world'...
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An overwhelming nebula

Posted one month ago by Michael Bakich
If you’re a regular Astronomy reader, the name Adam Block will be familiar to you. In addition to being one of the world’s preeminent astroimagers, Adam also contributes the “Cosmic Imaging” column each month. After a brief phone call, I encouraged Adam to submit a guest blog from time to time in which he highlights one of his latest creations. This is his first, and it’s a stunner! So, here's Adam in his own words. Each time I take a new image, I write a caption a...
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Astronomy across Africa

Posted one month ago by Korey Haynes
Hello, world! I'm the newest addition to the Astronomy staff, and I'm happy to be at the 225th meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) this week in Seattle, covering all that's late-breaking or up and coming in the world of astronomy. It's the latter sort of news that caught my attention today. When you think of the top countries in astronomy research, African nations probably aren't the first that spring to mind. But South Africa in particular is looking to change that, and they're...
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Earth's Van Allen belts still offering up surprises

Posted one month ago by Eric Betz
Our planet's magnetic field holds in a toroidal band of radiation in a belt around Earth, which protects us from solar eruptions, growing and shrinking as it's excited. That find is known as the first great discovery of the Space Age. And despite Americans getting to space second, the discovery was ours.The Soviet Union had shocked the world with Sputnik. When they followed their feat with a second craft, the data it captured contained evidence of these radiation belts, but the data was received...
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Let Astronomy get behind your outreach efforts!

Posted one month ago by Michael Bakich
Astronomy has just announced that we're accepting entries for the magazine's 2014 Out-of-this-world Award, and I wanted to make sure everyone was aware of this great annual opportunity.If you’re part of a nonprofit group in the United States that presents the wonders of astronomy to the public, you’re eligible for this $2,500 outreach award. I've been in charge of accepting entries for the past few years, so I know there are tons of great programs out there. And I want to encourage a...
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Win a chance to name a Uwingu Mars crater

Posted 2 months ago by Karri Ferron
In February, Uwingu, a small, for-profit company with a mission to create new ways for people to personally connect with space exploration and astronomy and, in turn, raise funds for space exploration, research, and education grants, announced its Mars Crater Naming Project as its latest money-raising initiative. The project invites users to stake claim to one (or many) of the approximately 500,000 unnamed but scientifically cataloged craters on the Red Planet (the 15,000 features already with n...
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Biggest stories of 2014 on NPR's Science Friday

Posted 2 months ago by Liz Kruesi
What better way to recover from the your Christmas or Hanukkah celebrations and prep for 2015 than to reflect on the past year’s biggest science stories? On December 26, at 2 p.m. Eastern time, tune to your National Public Radio station for Science Friday. In the episode, I join host Ira Flatow, Scientific American’s Mariette Dichristina, CNET’s Bridget Carey, and National Geographic contributor Brian Switek to talk about the most notable news from all areas of science in 2014....
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More dark skies, Texas style

Posted 2 months ago by Michael Bakich
At Astronomy, we hear about new projects all the time. Sometimes one will catch my eye, and I decide to share it with you. A few weeks ago, Morton Hochstein of New York City shared with me the details of a new attraction in Marathon, Texas, that should interest all amateur astronomers. Here’s his report. In sparsely settled southwest Texas, three communities — Marfa, Fort Davis, and Alpine — have achieved unique identities. Marfa is an art mecca, largely due to the educational...
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Stunning photos from the Orion launch

Posted 2 months ago by Karri Ferron
On December 5, 2014, NASA’s latest endeavor to once again send humans beyond low Earth orbit took a major step forward. The agency’s Orion spacecraft passed its first test flight with flying colors. Chris Cook, a professional photographer from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, covered the event from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida for Astronomy and sent back some incredible photos.While Chris captured most of his photos of the launch from the NASA causeway, about as close as an im...
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Uwingu and eBay auctioning naming rights to biggest unnamed crater on Mars

Posted 2 months ago by Karri Ferron
Posted on behalf of the Uwingu team; Astronomy magazine is a proud partner of this effort to raise funding for space science. Looking for an out of this world holiday gift opportunity or an incredible marriage proposal or anniversary idea? Through Monday, eBay and Uwingu have partnered to give anyone the opportunity to naming rights for the biggest unnamed crater on Uwingu’s Mars map — a first of its kind auction.With over 14,000 craters named on it by the public in 2014 alone &mdas...
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Orion launch scrubbed

Posted 2 months ago by Michael Bakich
I just received this report from Contributing Editor Mike Reynolds, who was at the press site on Pad 39 of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Thursday, December 4th. T-minus … and holding! Today’s launch attempt of Orion via the Delta IV launch vehicle was scrubbed due to a valve issue in the Delta rocket, though from the start it seemed that it was not going to be a day to fly from the moment the launch window opened. The launch control team worked through several issues,...
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Looking back with "50 Years of Brown Dwarfs"

Posted 2 months ago by Sarah Scoles
“Face it,” says the sunglasses-sporting protagonist of a 1996 New Yorker cartoon. “In this town, you’re either a star or you’re just another brown dwarf.” While science jokes fill modern-day Facebook feeds (“What do you do with an old chemist? … Barium”), this one still holds its own. It doesn’t rely on punny-ness but, instead, explains what a brown dwarf is: an object that failed to become a bright-burning star. But that’s a p...
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Uwingu beams message to Mars

Posted 3 months ago by Karri Ferron
On November 28, Uwingu, a company that raises money for space research and education grants, will send the results of its efforts to collect names, messages, and photos — nearly 90,000 total — to the Red Planet via a radio signal as part of its “Beam Me to Mars” project. The transmission will begin just after 3 p.m. EST in the United States and will be repeated twice at a rate of 1 million bits per second by Universal Space Network."Beam Me to Mars" celebrates the 50th an...
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Eclipse minus 1,000 days

Posted 3 months ago by Michael Bakich
It’s November 25, 2014. Thoughts of the holidays are everywhere because it’s exactly one month until Christmas. But that’s not what’s on my mind. I’m currently on vacation. My wife and I are in St. Joseph, Missouri, visiting her parents for the week. This morning, I appeared as a guest on the morning show at KFEQ, a radio station here in St. Joe located at 680 on the AM dial. In about an hour, I’ll be speaking to the Downtown Rotary Club. And Saturday night, ...
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Pluto and awards at planetary sciences meeting in Tucson

Posted 3 months ago by Rich Talcott
The 46th annual meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society in Tucson, Arizona, continued apace on Thursday. Scientists discussed their latest research on diverse topics including asteroids, planetary rings, and active moons such as Enceladus, Europa, Triton, and my personal favorite, Io. And though Rosetta’s mission to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko held center stage at the meeting on Monday, attendees were still buzzing about yesterday&rsquo...

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