Astronomy magazine editors share their unique insight from behind the scenes of the science, hobby, and magazine.
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Help name Pluto's features!

Posted 11 days 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 11 days 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 19 days 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 22 days 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 24 days 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 27 days 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 one month 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 one month 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 one month 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 one month 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 2 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 2 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 2 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 2 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 2 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 2 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 2 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 2 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 2 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 2 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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Is eyepiece time on a world-class telescope worth more than a Super Bowl ticket?

Posted 2 months 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 2 months 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 2 months 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 2 months 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 2 months 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 3 months 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 3 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 3 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 3 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 3 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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