Astronomy magazine editors share their unique insight from behind the scenes of the science, hobby, and magazine.
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10 reasons I'm looking forward to Comic-Con

Posted 23 hours ago by Michael Bakich
Once again, the world’s greatest pop-culture convention is happening. San Diego Comic-Con International 2014 officially starts Thursday, July 24, and runs through Sunday the 27th, with a preview night Wednesday, July 23, for professionals, exhibitors, and press. And for the second time, I’ll be attending as press to blog about what I see. Comic-Con started in 1970 as a three-day gathering called the Golden State Comic-Con. The event drew 300 people. Last year, the attendance swelled...
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Guest blog: Seagrave Memorial Observatory centennial (1914-2014)

Posted yesterday by Michael Bakich
Recently, David A. Huestis, Historian of Skyscrapers, Inc., sent in a blog about a century-old observatory. It’s a fascinating story we want to share with you. Skyscrapers, Inc., the Amateur Astronomical Society of Rhode Island, is proud to announce the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Seagrave Memorial Observatory on Peeptoad Road in North Scituate during our annual AstroAssembly convention, September 26 and 27. The former observatory of Frank Evans Seagrave (1860–1934), a f...
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Lincoln and the cosmos

Posted 9 days ago by Rich Talcott
Guest blog provided by Kirk R. Benson, a retired Naval Officer who works for the U.S. Navy as the Precise Time and Astrometry Program Manager. Every American owes a debt of gratitude to Abraham Lincoln, the man who rose from the humblest of beginnings to the presidency of a country whose soul was being tested, tortured, and redefined. By the summer of 1863, recurring casualty lists were a ghastly reality, and the fate of untold generations of Americans hung in the balance. Lincoln’s burde...
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Guest blog: The case for planet Pluto

Posted 13 days ago by Michael Bakich
This guest blog comes from Laurel Kornfeld, a freelance writer and enthusiastic amateur astronomer from Highland Park, New Jersey. The discovery that our solar system does not end with Pluto does not mandate that we accept the controversial IAU planet definition and artificially keep the number of solar system planets small. It is time to recognize a new paradigm, one in which planets are abundant and include spherical moons of gas giants and dwarf planets. Astronomers and educators should take...
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10 reasons Missouri should make August 21, 2017, a state holiday

Posted 16 days ago by Michael Bakich
A while back, I had what I thought was a radical idea. But as I began to write about it, I realized that it makes perfect sense for a number of reasons — well, at least 10. Three years from now, on August 21, 2017, the United States will experience the biggest astronomical event in its history — a total eclipse of the Sun. You think I’m kidding about that “biggest” proclamation? Then tell me something that topped it. Halley’s Comet? Not even close. In fact, i...
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10 awesome pieces of astronomy-inspired music

Posted 27 days ago by Michael Bakich
I almost titled this blog “The 10 most awesome …” but I realized — as capable as our Web server is — it probably couldn’t handle the stupendous number of comments, criticisms, and rants that I’d get. That said, I’m looking forward to hearing from you regarding which songs I should have included in this list and why. C’mon. Make your case. #10: Barenaked Ladies, “The History of Everything” from Hits from Yesterday and the Day Bef...
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The 10 lamest deep-sky object names

Posted one month ago by Michael Bakich
All deep-sky objects (any celestial object outside the solar system) are cool. Either they’re colorful, detailed, or just plain huge — astronomically huge. But, oh, man, some of the names that people have come up with to describe them! Let’s just say it might have been better to keep referring to them by their numbers in whatever sky catalog they’re in, notable or obscure. So, here’s my list of the 10 lamest monikers for awe-inspiring objects. And I’m pretty ...
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Get to know the night sky with Astronomy magazine's new app!

Posted one month ago by Karri Ferron
Our universe is filled with countless wonders: planets, double stars, nebulae, galaxies, and much more. And as a hobby, astronomy provides so much to explore. But a dark sky with seemingly countless stars can appear overwhelming to many just getting into astronomy (I know it was for me). Just where does a newbie begin?With that question in mind, our staff has created a new tablet app to guide novice observers: Discover Astronomy. For decades, the insightful editors of Astronomy magazine have bee...
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The amazing Camelopardalids

Posted one month ago by Michael Bakich
Did you see them? On Friday night/Saturday morning May 23/24, some astronomers were cautiously predicting that we’d experience a new meteor shower. Earth might cross several intersecting streams of particles left by Comet 209P/LINEAR. How many shooting stars would observers see? Conservative astronomers guessed a possible rate between 100 and 400 per hour at the peak, which arrived from 2 to 4 a.m. EDT. But some researchers who noted the “crossing of the streams” said the show...
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Uwingu offers an out-of-this-world Father's Day gift

Posted one month 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. As a part of Uwingu’s “Dad’s Rock Mars” Father’s Day project, gift givers visiting Uwingu’s website at www.uwingu.com have the first-ever opportunity to honor Dads for Father’s Day by naming a crater for him on Uwingu’s crowdsourced Mars map. The map will be carried to the surface of Mars on an upcoming space miss...
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25 cool things about the StarLight Festival

Posted one month ago by Michael Bakich
During the Memorial Day weekend, I attended the first StarLight Festival hosted by the Astronomy Outreach Network. It took place in the Village of Big Bear Lake, California. I thought it rocked, and here are 25 reasons why (in no particular order). 1) The location. Big Bear Lake sits 6,772 feet (2,064 meters) above sea level. It’s beautiful. 2) The weekend’s weather: temperatures in the 70s and clear throughout. 3) This event was for the general public. That means families and k...
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AAS Wednesday: The multiverse, inflation, and a giant telescope

Posted one month ago by Liz Kruesi
Today was the last day of press events at the American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting in Boston. The morning’s press conference actually overlapped with a science session about the multiverse — which I felt compelled to attend. I’m glad I did, because in the last decade, the idea of a multiverse has appeared to go from crazy to plausible … although I haven’t really understood why. During today’s session, two brilliant cosmologists provided a packed room ...
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AAS Tuesday: Galaxies, the Kepler2 (K2) mission, and the Sun

Posted one month ago by Liz Kruesi
Tuesday was another busy day at the 224th meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), held in Boston. In addition to a press conference about the Sun’s current weak sunspot cycle, I attended one about galaxy discoveries. This opened with an announcement about a newly observed structure heating gas in the galaxy cluster MACS J0717.5+3745 (MACSJ0717 for short). A typical cluster of galaxies holds hundreds to thousands of galaxies and a huge amount of multi-million-degree gas (so muc...
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AAS Monday: The Sun, and planets around other stars

Posted one month ago by Liz Kruesi
The 224th meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) officially began this morning, with a welcome address from the current president, David Helfand. Shortly afterward was the first press conference of the meeting, and it focused on the nearest star to Earth — the Sun. (The Solar Physics Division of the AAS is also meeting this week in Boston, so there are a number of Sun-related presentations and posters.) Our star is a complex beast. AAS Press Secretary Rick Feinberg said i...
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NASA wants you to select photo for Moon mission's anniversary

Posted one month ago by Liz Kruesi
June 18 will mark the 5-year anniversary of NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission to survey the Moon. And to celebrate, NASA will release a special image collection called “The Moon as Art.” The space agency wants you to pick the cover image from five candidate pictures. Voting has begun, and it closes June 6. So what are you waiting for? Vote for your favorite image now.  NASA will announce the winning cover photo June 18, when it releases the full collection....
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Call to action: Remind Congress that science research funding is important

Posted 2 months ago by Liz Kruesi
It’s no secret that the current state of science funding is in a pretty sad state. NASA’s fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget was the lowest, in terms of the percent of federal budget — 0.47 percent — that it has ever been in the space agency’s 55-year existence. And the presidential administration’s proposed FY 2015 budget drops it even lower, to 0.46 percent of the federal budget. That budget proposal came out in March. The United States House Appropriations Subcom...
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Celebrating an astronomical career with stars and art

Posted 2 months ago by Liz Kruesi
I just got back from spending a couple days in Ames, Iowa — home of the Cyclones — to celebrate the distinguished career of Lee Anne Mordy Willson. She has been an astronomy professor at Iowa State University for 41 years; I overlapped with her for just one of those years. During her astronomy career, Lee Anne served as vice president of the American Astronomical Society, president of the American Association of Variable Star Observers, authored or co-authored some 150 research artic...
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Explore how the universe began and evolved with Cosmic Origins

Posted 2 months ago by Liz Kruesi
In March, we introduced Cosmic Origins, a tablet app you can download and then purchase four fabulous interactive products that lie within. Three of these article packages focus on different categories of objects in the cosmos, like planets, stars, and galaxies. The fourth focuses on the universe itself. Each of the four products — essentially digital special issues — is chock-full of new research and fun ways to learn more about that science. In the product How the universe began, ...
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Why do science-fiction stories work?

Posted 2 months ago by Michael Bakich
I recently attended the fourth annual Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2). It ran from Friday, April 25 through Sunday, April 27. Because of Astronomy’s tie-in to the science end of things, I attended as a member of the press.One of the panels I attended was “Science Fiction.” During the hourlong session, authors John Scalzi (The Human Division), Daryl Gregory (Afterparty), and M. D. Waters (Prototype) talked about how they got into science fiction, their influences, ...
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Join me in Kalamazoo for Astronomy Day

Posted 2 months ago by Michael Bakich
This year, Astronomy Day falls on Saturday, May 10, and the Kalamazoo Astronomical Society (KAS) has a full day of activities planned. What a great way to introduce yourself, your family, or your friends to the wonders of our universe!The first activities take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Portage District Library located at 300 Library Lane. KAS club members will have telescopes set up outside to allow visitors safe, close-up looks at the Sun. Inside, hands-on activities include “Ma...
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An interview with time-lapse filmmaker Gavin Heffernan

Posted 2 months ago by Sarah Scoles
There are star trails, and then there are star trails. Filmmaker Gavin Heffernan specializes in the latter. As the founder of Sunchaser Pictures and a seasoned screenwriter and director, he’s well-versed in the ways of shots, lenses, and frames. Those skills have brought special cinematic qualities to his time-lapse videos of the night sky. To make his astronomical films, he animates sequences of long-exposure wide-field images — images taken in amazing western U.S. landscapes, with ...
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This is the last week to enter the Alien Worlds Student Story Contest

Posted 2 months ago by Sarah Scoles
If you have an imagination, like science, can write sentences, and are under 18 years old, you can submit a story to the Alien Worlds Student Story Contest. But hurry! There’s only a week left. To enter, just write a vivid tale about an imagined planet and the kinds of extraterrestrials that might flourish there. For ideas and inspiration, check out these real exoplanets. Submissions must be postmarked or emailed by May 5, 2014. Entries must be 100–300 words, submitted in...
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8 things I'm looking forward to at C2E2

Posted 2 months ago by Michael Bakich
The fourth annual Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) starts Friday, April 25 and runs through Sunday, April 27. I’ll be there as a member of the media for the third straight year. Of course the convention covers comics — from A to Z — but it also features speakers and other guests from movies and television, as well as from the realms of toys and video games. The festivities all happen in the massive South Building of Chicago’s McCormick Place.  Here are...
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Explore galaxy formation and evolution with Cosmic Origins

Posted 3 months ago by Liz Kruesi
In March, we introduced Cosmic Origins, a tablet app you can download and then purchase four fabulous interactive products that lie within. Three of these article packages focus on different categories of objects in the cosmos, like planets, stars, and galaxies. The fourth focuses on the universe itself. Each of the four products — essentially digital special issues — is chock-full of new research and fun ways to learn more about that science. In the product How galaxies came to be,...
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Astronomy and flags

Posted 3 months ago by Michael Bakich
An electronic version of a fascinating book just arrived via email. Flags of the Night Sky: When Astronomy Meets National Pride (Springer, 2014) is a 341-page history of why many flags around the world currently display astronomical themes. The author, André G. Bordeleau, writes in his introduction: “Astronomy studies the night sky and all that it contains. Vexillology is the study of flags, their colors, symbols, and meaning. To most people, the two usually don’t meet. In th...
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Watch "The Amazing You," featuring space scientists, for free

Posted 3 months ago by Sarah Scoles
Ever since you were a little kid, everybody’s been telling you to live your dreams. You’re probably sick of hearing it, especially because the sentiment comes with so little practical advice. But what if someone famous told you to live your dreams, and then they told you how? The Amazing You, a new film produced by Dragos Bratasanu, features interviews from a number of fancy space-related people. They talk about the world’s future — technologically, scientifically, cultu...
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Catch tonight's lunar eclipse virtually!

Posted 3 months ago by Karri Ferron
With the first total lunar eclipse in more than two years coming up in less than 10 hours, many astronomy enthusiasts have their eyes glued to weather forecasts. Right now, things are looking OK for Waukesha, Wisconsin, home of Astronomy magazine’s offices, with an April snow shower (ick!) expected to pass and clear skies arriving in time for totality. But seeing as I don’t always trust weather forecasts, I’m keeping my fingers (and toes) crossed anyway.If the outlooks look les...
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Explore the universe of stars with Cosmic Origins' "How stars form and evolve"

Posted 3 months ago by Liz Kruesi
A month ago, we introduced Cosmic Origins, a tablet app you can download and then purchase four fabulous interactive products that lie within. Three of these article packages focus on different categories of objects in the cosmos, like planets, stars, and galaxies. The fourth focuses on the universe itself. Each of the four products — essentially digital special issues — is chock-full of new research and fun ways to learn more about that science. In the product How stars form and ev...
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Uwingu launches its first call for grant applications

Posted 3 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. Space startup Uwingu announced today that it is soliciting applications from planetary science graduate students to support their travel to report research results at scientific meetings in 2014 and early 2015. Applications are due by April 30, 2014, at 11:59 p.m. PDT. Uwingu expects to make 10-15 awards of travel grants from this solicitation by early June....
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Explore planetary science with Cosmic Origins' "How the solar system formed"

Posted 4 months ago by Liz Kruesi
On March 5, we introduced Cosmic Origins, a tablet app you can download and then purchase four fabulous interactive products that lie within. We’re extremely excited about these article packages, and hope you check them out. Each of the four products — essentially digital special issues — is chock-full of new research and fun ways to learn more about that science. In the product How the solar system formed, you’ll explore different methods that astronomers use to find wo...

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