Astronomy magazine editors share their unique insight from behind the scenes of the science, hobby, and magazine.
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Guest blog: Leo by night, lions by day

Posted 4 years ago by Karri Ferron
Nick Howes, a freelance science writer for the European Space Agency and the pro-am program manager for the Faulkes Telescope, provides a guest blog about a recent “Astro Safari” to the pristine skies of Tanzania. The journey started at the UK 50 Space Conference, an event I only decided to attend at the last minute, due to the fantastic speaker lineup. Television producer and writer Tira Shubart, a friend with extensive experience in Africa as a journalist, approached me with the i...
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Iceland 2013: Water wonders and aurorae

Posted 4 years ago by Liz Kruesi
Today we got to see a sampling of Iceland’s amazing natural wonders (including the northern lights!). In the morning, we left Reykjavik and drove southeast to the Haukadalur geothermal area to visit hot springs and natural geysers. The water is about 212° Fahrenheit (100° Celsius) — and contains alkalides — so we made sure not to touch the water. The steam roiling off the many water holes made it obvious how hot the spring-fed features are, but it made for dramatic pho...
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Comet PANSTARRS and a jet contrail

Posted 4 years ago by Karri Ferron
Astronomy magazine has received tons of fantastic images of Comet PANSTARRS over the past few weeks (see some of them in our special Comet PANSTARRS photo gallery and our Comets Reader Photo Gallery), and we unfortunately can’t highlight them all. But yesterday, frequent contributor John Chumack sent in some recent images I couldn’t help but share. John was in the Philadelphia area March 14 on business. He had a clear evening, so he headed to Valley Forge National Park because it ha...
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Iceland 2013: Reykjavik and the Blue Lagoon

Posted 4 years ago by Liz Kruesi
During this week, I’m aurora hunting from the beautiful island country of Iceland. I’m joining a tour with Astronomy magazine’s travel partner, MWT Associates, Inc., as the lecturer. While here, I get to learn about Iceland’s impressive geology and rich culture while hoping the northern lights make nightly appearances. After snow in Wisconsin and New York City, we finally made it to the west coast of the island Tuesday morning — a couple hours delayed. Our first st...
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Deep Sky Forum and Faint Fuzzies create 46-object observing guide

Posted 4 years ago by Sarah Scoles
One year ago, NASA’s Ebb and Flow craft sent back images of the farside of the Moon, Lady Gaga started her own social networking site, and the Deep Sky Forum was in its infancy.  Now, 12 months later, DeepSkyForum.com is a dynamo of observing information. With almost 300 members who have collectively made more than 1,500 posts, the site brings together some of the best and most experienced people in amateur astronomy. Users post and respond to others’ posts about everythin...
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A fantastic sketch of Comet PANSTARRS

Posted 4 years ago by Michael Bakich
Master sketcher Jeremy Perez from Flagstaff, Arizona, made this great drawing of Comet PANSTARRS on March 13. I was so impressed that I wanted to share the sketch and the story behind it. Here's what Jeremy said:"In the two nights since I last viewed the comet, its elevation has risen enough to pull it further out of the twilight glare. And it looks GREAT! The view got better and better as twilight deepened. The tail seemed to nearly double in length since I last viewed it — approaching wh...
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Comet PANSTARRS doesn’t disappoint

Posted 4 years ago by Michael Bakich
You know, I’ve heard a little buzz about town (OK, from a certain other astronomy publication) that Comet PANSTARRS (C/2011 L4) is a bit disappointing. That contradicts the reports I’m getting from observers and imagers all over the world who think the first dirty snowball in 2013 is terrific. I mean, c’mon. Anytime a comet hits naked-eye visibility, that’s news. But how could I know for sure? Here’s my problem: I live in Milwaukee. I can forget the mass of people,...
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"Cosmic Adventures" video series returns

Posted 4 years ago by Liz Kruesi
After a few-month hiatus, Cosmic Adventures is back to explore the awesome world of astronomy. You’ll notice a key difference with the second season: Associate Editor Sarah Scoles joins me on screen after Bill Andrews left Astronomy for its sister publication, Discover. In episode 20, we talk about 10 big changes in the field of astronomy — from the discovery of dark energy to the study of the martian surface. So whether you’re a Cosmic Adventures fan from the beginning, or yo...
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It's time to observe Comet PANSTARRS

Posted 4 years ago by Rich Talcott
It appears that our hopes for Comet PANSTARRS (C/2011 L4) may pan out after all. The most recent magnitude estimates put the comet at around 1st magnitude, considerably brighter than it was a week ago and approaching the optimistic forecasts from a few months back. Significantly, the comet already appears brighter than the 2nd or 3rd magnitude that many pessimists were predicting for the comet’s peak this weekend. Comet PANSTARRS currently has a high surface brightness and an impressively ...
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Top honors for an "Astronomy" editor

Posted 4 years ago by Ron Kovach
Astronomy magazine is pleased to announce that Associate Editor Liz Kruesi has won one of the top awards in astronomical science journalism from the American Astronomical Society. The society’s High Energy Astrophysics Division honored Kruesi with the 2013 David N. Schramm Award for
 High Energy Astrophysics Science Journalism for her April 2012 article, “How we know black holes exist.” The Schramm Award recognizes distinguished writing on high-energy astrophysics and is judg...
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Uwingu update: Nominate names for planets around faraway stars

Posted 4 years 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 Commercial space start-up Uwingu announced Wednesday the launch of its fully commercial website at www.uwingu.com. The site allows the public to enter names for planets around other stars into a registry that astronomers and others can select from to name faraway planets. Much of the proceeds from these name nominations will be used generate a source of grants to fund spa...
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Virtually attend a star party

Posted 4 years ago by Sarah Scoles
In this digital age, when you can easily access 3-D panoramas of offshore real-estate investment opportunities and comment on pictures of your high school class president’s second honeymoon to Fiji, doesn’t it make sense that you should be able to look through a telescope online, too? Many people who love space and love to look at it don’t have clear, dark skies or telescopes to point at the sky even if it is clear and dark. Frasier Cain, the publisher of the website Universe ...
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A successful astronomy day in Tucson

Posted 4 years ago by Michael Bakich
On Saturday, February 16, 2013, Astronomy magazine hosted an all-day skywatching party at the East Campus Observatory of Pima Community College (PCC) in Tucson. Activities started at 10 a.m. and continued through 9 p.m. And what a day it was! Several groups set up tables and staffed them throughout the day. Among them were the Girl Scouts, the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter, the International Dark Sky Association, and the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association. Astronomy magazine also had a table, where ...
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On the road: Prepping for the 2013 Tucson Star Party

Posted 4 years ago by Michael Bakich
What a week it has been in Tucson. I’ve visited the site of our upcoming star party twice. The first time, last Sunday, was to just do a general checkout. I got the lay of the land, and a nice security guard let me check out the Community Room in the Pima Community College Library. That’s where we’ll be doing our talks. The second visit, on Thursday, was to meet with Pima Community College’s representative and astronomy professor David Iadevaia. He showed us the observat...
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Help name Pluto’s two tiny moons

Posted 4 years ago by Karri Ferron
Pluto might have been “demoted” in 2006 to dwarf-planet status, but that doesn’t mean this Kuiper Belt object is any less important in the eyes of astronomers. In fact, as NASA’s New Horizons continues its 9.5-year trek to reach Pluto in July 2015, the distant world has received even more scrutiny. This extensive study has led to the discovery of two new plutonian moons since 2011, generically called P4 and P5. But those boring monikers won’t last much longer. The ...
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A key art partnership powers “Astronomy” magazine

Posted 4 years ago by Ron Kovach
Even if you skim casually through the pages of Astronomy, you can’t help but notice the crucial role the art staff plays in the design, illustrations, and overall feel of the magazine. A lot of work, planning, and talent go into their effort. I’m not an artist, but I’d imagine that our subject matter at Astronomy is really challenging stuff for an art staff. Yet our crew seems to take it completely in stride. If readers could sit in on the illustration meetings built into our...
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Help save the movie "Saving Hubble"

Posted 4 years ago by Sarah Scoles
You may have seen a lot of documentaries in your quest for enlightenment, and you may have funded a few sci-tech projects on Kickstarter in your attempt at philanthropy, but you’ve probably never seen the film Saving Hubble, and it’s even more likely you haven’t helped it reach a wider audience (an audience that includes you). David Gaynes spent nine years making this documentary, which follows the struggles and triumphs involved in keeping everyone’s favorite image-make...
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Watch an asteroid move through space

Posted 4 years ago by Michael Bakich
On December 11, 2012, astroimager Mauro Broggi from Cucciago, Italy, took a series of images of the asteroid 4179 Toutatis, which at the time shone at magnitude 10.9. On that date, Toutatis was in the constellation Pisces the Fish. Mauro imaged it from 10:18 p.m. until 12:39 a.m. local time. In that span, the asteroid moved 1°, or twice the apparent diameter of the Full Moon. Mauro sent two versions of the movie he made, and I thought both were equally interesting, so here they are. The fir...
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Hubble’s hidden treasures are yours to find

Posted 4 years ago by Sarah Scoles
Be an astronomy archaeologist. Dig up images from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) that only a few scientists have ever seen (and about which they never wrote press releases). I dare you. While many beautiful pictures from the HST have made it into the public eye, thousands have not. Scientists are calling these images “Hubble’s hidden treasures.” While they search the archive for sparkly astronomical gems and publish them as the Hubble Pictures of the Week, they say “th...
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Swap or sell your astro-gear in eastern Wisconsin

Posted 4 years ago by Michael Bakich
On Saturday, March 23, 2013, the Sheboygan Astronomical Society is hosting its sixth 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 long...
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Telescopes to Tanzania brings science and math to East Africa

Posted 4 years ago by Karri Ferron
Back in October, Associate Editor Bill Andrews introduced us to Chuck and Susan Ruehle and Telescopes to Tanzania, a program that aims to build instructor and student capacity in many of the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math. At that time, the pair was just preparing to depart Wisconsin for a trip to Tanzania, one of the poorest countries in the world, as part of the project. And last week, I received an update from Chuck and Susan on their workshops in East Africa: Have...
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NASA’s universe literally at your fingertips

Posted 5 years ago by Sarah Scoles
Now that you’ve relegated all those weird books you received over the holidays to the shelf for dust collection, it’s time to pick up a book — or two — of your own choosing. For your consideration, I present the latest in NASA’s line of e-books: Hubble Space Telescope: Discoveries and Webb Space Telescope: Science Guide. Both are available for free and can be purchased either as interactive e-books for the iPad or as static PDFs for e-readers, tablets, and computer...
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On the road: AAS January 2013 meeting — supernovae and dark energy

Posted 5 years ago by Liz Kruesi
It’s the end of the third full day, and my last, at the American Astronomical Society meeting. In addition to attending press conferences about exploding massive stars and cosmology, I spent time checking out some of the poster presentations and attending science sessions about imaging exoplanets and also stellar astrophysics projects from the Kepler mission (it doesn’t just detect worlds around other stars). The first press conference grouped recent supernovae discoveries with the ...
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On the road: AAS January 2013 meeting — more exoplanets and a donated telescope

Posted 5 years ago by Liz Kruesi
As the second full day of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting comes to an end, exoplanets yet again were a major focus. The first press conference of the day included announcements of surprising planetary systems. First, we learned of evidence of a planetary system in the Hyades star cluster. This cluster is just 150 light-years from Earth and provides a laboratory to study stellar evolution. Ben Zuckerman of UCLA and colleagues used the HIRES instrument on the Keck Telescope to obse...
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On the road: AAS January 2013 meeting — exoplanets and high-energy astrophysics

Posted 5 years ago by Liz Kruesi
It’s no secret that the search for extrasolar planets leads to big news. This field seems to be taking the American Astronomical Society meeting by storm, as evidenced by the number of press conferences and how packed the exoplanet science sessions are — standing room only. The first press conference highlighted five different announcements about worlds orbiting other stars. First, Christopher Burke of the Kepler mission team announced that it has found another 461 candidate planets...
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American Astronomical Society January 2013 meeting preview

Posted 5 years ago by Liz Kruesi
The American Astronomical Society (AAS) holds two meetings each year, and the January one is the largest. This year, Long Beach, California, plays host to the society’s 221st meeting from January 6 through 10, where some 2,800 astronomers, educators, students, and journalists are expected to attend. The meeting includes 10 press conferences, and more than 1,900 science talks and poster presentations, plus a few “town hall” meetings that touch on the future of astronomy. It&rsq...
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Join the GLOBE at Night 2013 campaign

Posted 5 years ago by Michael Bakich
How bright is your night sky? A sky full of light pollution increases energy consumption and has deleterious effects on human health and wildlife. You can be part of the solution by measuring the brightness of your night sky to help scientists. Join one of five GLOBE at Night campaigns in 2013. The first started January 3 and runs through January 12. GLOBE at Night is a worldwide, hands-on science and education program to encourage people (citizen scientists) worldwide to record the brightness ...
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Deadline approaching: Your astronomy club could win $2,500

Posted 5 years ago by Michael Bakich
With just a couple of weeks until the closing date for Astronomy magazine’s 2012 Out-of-this-world Award, I wanted to post a reminder about this great opportunity. If you’re part of a nonprofit group anywhere in the world that presents the wonders of astronomy to the public, you’re eligible for this $2,500 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’...
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Join us in Tucson for a day filled with astronomy

Posted 5 years ago by Michael Bakich
 On Saturday, February 16, 2013, Astronomy magazine and the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association (TAAA) will host an all-day skywatching party at the East Campus Observatory of Pima Community College (PCC). Activities start at 10 a.m. and continue through 9 p.m. This event will feature astronomy-based talks, displays, and handouts (including Astronomy magazine). But the highlight will occur throughout the day as members of the TAAA will have telescopes set up with the proper filters to con...
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A Kickstarter for science

Posted 5 years ago by Sarah Scoles
Many of you are probably familiar with Kickstarter, the funding platform for creative projects. If you want to produce a music album but don’t have the money, you can put your idea on Kickstarter; if people like it enough, they will send you money.Well, now science projects have their own crowd-funded initiative. It’s called PetriDish, probably because scientific ideas incubate there like virulent bacteria in the lab. Matt Papas and Ilia Salzburg began this company, in their own word...

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