Astronomy magazine editors share their unique insight from behind the scenes of the science, hobby, and magazine.
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Tomorrowland is a film every future scientist should see

Posted 2 days ago by Eric Betz
NASA’s man in Hollywood says the latest rash of sci-fi films show the agency still holds sway with young minds more than half a century after the launch of the space age.   “The future can be scary,” Frank Walker (played by George Clooney) tells audiences at the beginning of Disney’s latest film, Tomorrowland. He continues, “When I was a kid, the future was different.” As I watched the film premiere in Milwaukee this week, I paid close attention to a lit...
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Tales from a budding night sky photographer

Posted 14 days ago by Korey Haynes
Please welcome guest blogger Josh Thum. I had the pleasure of meeting Josh at a Yerkes Observatory star party a few weeks ago and was hugely impressed by the night sky photos he showed me, especially for someone still in high school. I thought you might like to hear his story and enjoy his work as well: My fascination with science began around fifth grade. At first, I took particular interest in marine biology and meteorology. As I matured, I strayed from these topics and eventually ...
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A short time ago in a state far, far away ...

Posted 21 days ago by Karri Ferron
Happy Star Wars Day! Yes, Astronomy magazine is a brand based in science, not science fiction, but we like to embrace the sci-fi side of things every once in a while in our offices, especially as science fiction has inspired many of us and our contributors to study the stars in the first place. And what better way to celebrate May the Fourth than with our resident Stars Wars expert, Senior Graphic Designer Chuck Braasch, who found inspiration for his career from the saga many years ago and recen...
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Uwingu announces an out-of-this-world Mother's Day celebration

Posted 24 days 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.Space company Uwingu announced today a special campaign to honor moms for Mother’s Day with place names on its Mars map. Through Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 10, Uwingu is offering decorative Mother’s Day certificates for anyone choosing to honor a mom this celestial way. Two certificate options are available: either an electronic downloadable version or a b...
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C2E2 hears about Pluto

Posted 27 days ago by Michael Bakich
The fifth annual Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) is over. It began Friday, April 24 and concluded Sunday, April 26. I was there as media, representing Astronomy magazine, for the fourth straight year. And, oh, was it fun! The convention venue was the North Building of Chicago’s McCormick Place. I could tell you lots of stories about my time there, but the memory of one sticks out above all the others combined. The event occurred Sunday at 12:15 p.m. on C2E2’s main sta...
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Celebrate Earth Day with NASA

Posted one month ago by Korey Haynes
At the congressional budget hearing on April 16, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden had to repeatedly defend his organization’s mission to perform cutting-edge science not just in aeronautics and space exploration, as the agency’s name makes clear, but also across all four research areas the science mission directorate is expected to cover: astrophysics, planetary physics, heliophysics, and Earth science. That last branch (incidentally the one for which Bolden came under particular f...
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I am headed back to C2E2

Posted one month ago by Michael Bakich
The fifth annual Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) starts Friday, April 24 and runs through Sunday, April 26. I’ll be there as a member of the media for the fourth straight year. The convention, which, in addition to comics, spans the latest and greatest in the worlds of movies, television, toys, and video games, is being held in the North Building of Chicago’s McCormick Place. C2E2 is an opportunity for creative folks to express themselves in many ways to like-minded p...
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MESSENGER's about to crash into Mercury, and the last views from its death spiral are amazing

Posted one month ago by Eric Betz
The first spacecraft to orbit the innermost planet is running out of fuel and days away from plunging to its demise at an incredible 8,750 mph (14,080 km/h). Over the past several months, NASA has orchestrated a series of carefully planned maneuvers that has brought the orbiting observatory closer to Mercury’s surface than airplanes fly on Earth. And MESSENGER’s final daredevil skims are showing scientists fresh evidence that this Sun-scorched world is not entirely dead. "The spacec...
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New project explores humanity's severed link with the night sky

Posted one month ago by Eric Betz
A few weeks ago, I sat on a park bench overlooking the Port of Milwaukee hoping to glimpse the aurorae borealis lighting up much of the Northern Hemisphere. The horizon was fuzzy, but a 30-second exposure image revealed a distinct green band arcing over the city skyline.I drove for 35 minutes trying to find somewhere dark. When I hit Harrington Beach State Park and looked across Lake Michigan, curtains of green lights danced across the lake out to the eastern horizon — away from the city l...
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Celebrate the telescope's 25th anniversary with "Saving Hubble"

Posted one month ago by Karri Ferron
Back in January 2012, a documentary was presented at the American Astronomical Society meeting that created widespread buzz. Saving Hubble, directed by David Gaynes, focuses on the fight to save the ailing space telescope after NASA cancelled a servicing mission in 2004. Weaving in the great history of Hubble, it looks at the great impact the greatest telescope of all time has had not just on science, but on popular culture worldwide.While Saving Hubble became an immediate hit with scientists an...
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Help name Pluto's features!

Posted 2 months ago by Korey Haynes
With New Horizons speeding ever closer toward its July 14 close encounter with Pluto, astronomers are going to have unprecedented looks at the tiny planet’s thus far hidden features. And when they get their first close-up pictures, they’re going to want names for all the new discoveries. That’s where you come in.The SETI institute unveiled today ourpluto.seti.org, where you can vote on names for the yet-undiscovered craters and ridges, peaks and valleys and rifts – and wh...
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Swap or sell your stuff in Sheboygan

Posted 2 months ago by Michael Bakich
On Saturday, March 28, 2015, the Sheboygan Astronomical Society is hosting the eighth annual Swap ’N’ Sell. This year’s event 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, cameras, or books you no lon...
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Eclipse map shows the brightness of the Sun from other worlds

Posted 2 months ago by Michael Bakich
I just received a great new graphic from Michael Zeiler, who runs GreatAmericanEclipse, LLC. He calculated the average brightness of the Sun at Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, and then translated those to lines on a map he created for the March 20, 2015, total solar eclipse. So, now, even if you're not fortunate enough to be in the path of totality (a bit dicey for this eclipse, to be sure), you may be able to use your location as a teaching tool to demonstrate how much sunli...
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Going to Kansas City

Posted 2 months ago by Michael Bakich
I guess me announcing that I’ll be speaking about the August 21, 2017, total solar eclipse that will cross the United States isn’t really news anymore. After all, I now have presented more than half a dozen such talks. But this one is different. I won’t be addressing an astronomy club, or a Rotary Club, or a chamber of commerce. Instead, I’ll be speaking at a pop culture event in Kansas City called Planet Comicon. To youth! To non-scientists! Oh, yeah. Planet Comicon run...
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Did Ceres once have oceans and life? NASA aims to find out

Posted 2 months ago by Eric Betz
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft settles into an 16-month mission exploring the protoplanet Ceres.  There was no dramatic entry. No high-risk maneuvers or nail-biting rocket firing. If NASA’s Dawn spacecraft missed on its slow crawl into orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres early Friday morning, engineers would have just tweaked the weak thrust of the ion engines and tried again.Instead, mission managers say the real drama will be the science unveiled as NASA begins to chronicle the histo...
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Travel the world with Astronomy magazine

Posted 2 months ago by Karri Ferron
If you could take one astronomy-related vacation in the next few years, what would it be? How about a cruise through the Arctic Sea to witness the northern lights or an adventure in Indonesia to experience a total solar eclipse? And what if you could be guided by local experts as well as editors from Astronomy? Thanks to the magazine’s new partnership with TravelQuest International, a top-rated travel company dedicated to astronomy-themed trips, you can start your vacation planning now. W...
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Legendary planetary imager Don Parker passes away

Posted 3 months 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 3 months 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 3 months 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 3 months 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 3 months 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 3 months 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 4 months 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 4 months 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 4 months 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 4 months 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 4 months 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 4 months 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 4 months 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 4 months 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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