Dave Eicher, editor of Astronomy magazine and science popularizer, brings you thoughts about astronomy, cosmology, nature, the hobby of astronomy, the sometimes disturbingly pseudoscientific culture we live in, and more.
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PRESS RELEASE: Starmus: 35 days! New musical performers, astrophoto contest winner, unforgettable closing ceremony!

Posted 6 days ago by David Eicher
STARMUS ANNOUNCES THE WINNER OF THE ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITION, NEW MUSICAL PERFORMANCES AT THE FESTIVAL, AND AN UNFORGETTABLE CLOSING CEREMONY PAYING HOMAGE TO THE LEGENDS OF SPACE•    Once again, the Australian enthusiast Alex Cherney won the unanimous applause of the jury at the festival for the second consecutive time, on this occasion thanks to his evocative collection of time-lapse sequences “Observatories” •    The innovative progressi...
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14 things you didn't know about how the Sun will die

Posted 7 days ago by David Eicher
The Sun is about halfway through its life, some 4.6 billion years old. In another 5 billion years, it will cease being a normal “adult” star. Here’s the skinny on the upcoming demise of the star that you owe everything to — light, warmth, energy, and life. 1. Stars like the Sun will shine for 10 to 20 billion years. But the time a star like this spends on the so-called main sequence as a normal “adult” star — fusing hydrogen into helium at its core &mdas...
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"Astronomy" magazine partners with Kennedy Space Center

Posted 7 days ago by David Eicher
Astronomy magazine has partnered with the Kennedy Space Center for a sweepstakes in which one lucky winner will win an authentic meteorite and a trip for four to the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida.The sweepstakes will be held in conjunction with the new Great Balls of Fire interactive exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. At the exhibit, people will learn about the possible impacts and risks of asteroids and comets. Visitors of the exhibit will be able to blast of...
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Beam a message to Mars!

Posted 7 days ago by David Eicher
An ambitious campaign by the space fundraising group Uwingu starts today that will allow participants to beam a message to Mars. Anyone, anywhere can take part in a unique “global shoutout” that will beam messages to Mars on November 28, and the project is called “Beam Me to Mars.”This program, marked by #BeamMe2Mars, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the beginning of human exploration of the Red Planet with the launch of NASA’s Mariner 4, the first succes...
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A candid interview with Capt. Jim Lovell

Posted 18 days ago by David Eicher
You probably know that James Lovell is one of the greatest figures of the history of space exploration. Gemini program veteran, Command Module Pilot of Apollo 8, and of course the heroic commander of the crippled Apollo 13 mission, Lovell is at age 86 every bit as sharp and amazingly entertaining as ever. On Wednesday, I had the good fortune to bring some of Astronomy’s staff down to Jim’s restaurant, Lovell’s of Lake Forest, in suburban Chicago. I was accompanied by Senior Edi...
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Greetings from the world's largest airshow

Posted 20 days ago by David Eicher
On Friday, August 1, 2014, Senior Editor Michael Bakich and I trekked northward from the Astronomy magazine offices to spend the day at the world’s largest airshow, the EAA Airventure event in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Aviation and space exploration are hand-in-hand at this fabulous festival, which featured more than 10,000 aircraft, more than 500,000 visitors, and a dizzying array of displays from the likes of NASA, Boeing, Grumman, and numerous other exhibitors. If you like aviation and space ...
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New York "Newsday" covers Pluto controversy

Posted 26 days ago by David Eicher
Yes, the discussion of Pluto’s identity and how it relates to planets, dwarf planets, asteroids, and other small bodies continues. Now Newsday, the New York paper, has entered the fray, quoting Alan Stern, me, and others . . .http://www.newsday.com/business/technology/pluto-planet-controversy-rages-on-among-scientists-1.8920685...
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Starmus Ask Stephen Hawking a Question contest!

Posted 27 days ago by David Eicher
The Starmus Festival has announced a new contest for its upcoming event. With the "Ask Hawking" contest, the public can submit their questions to Stephen Hawking, one of the leaders of contemporary astronomy. Learn more in this press release, and I encourage everyone to enter!...
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Astronomy Foundation achieves 501(c)(3) nonprofit status

Posted 27 days ago by David Eicher
Spreading astronomy outreach is a tough business in this world of increasing light pollution and a saturated stream of entertainment constantly running over kids, pulling them away from the reality of the world around them. Now, after a long year of paperwork and waiting, the Astronomy Foundation (AF), the telescope manufacturer’s industry association, has achieved something that will make its efforts far easier — 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. Founded in 2009 by then Celestron CEO Jose...
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Dave Eicher talks Pluto on "The Morning Blend"

Posted 29 days ago by David Eicher
This morning I had great fun talking with Molly Fay and Tiffany Ogle on NBC Milwaukee’s The Morning Blend — a wonderful short chat! Check out the clip below, and let me know what you think about a possible Pluto debate in the comments section. cs_setInnerHtml('video_00405539-edbe-469e-89fe-7d7d7b274df2',''); ...
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Dave Eicher on Milwaukee TV "Morning Blend" on Monday

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
Let’s have a debate about Pluto! Between Alan (Pluto is a planet!) Stern and Neil (No it’s not!) deGrasse Tyson!In a great auditorium or on live national TV! I will be appearing on Milwaukee TV, on NBC’s The Morning Blend on WTMJ4 on Monday morning, July 28, to discuss Pluto and the possibilities of a debate over its classification. You can find out how to watch it here.See you then! ...
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Do you think clearly about the universe?

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
The bad news: We’re constantly awash in nonsense about the cosmos served up mostly by TV. The good news: By thinking about the universe in the right way, you can avoid most of the nonsense. Here are the ways you can determine how you see the truth, from worst to best:1. Intuition. This line of reasoning includes supposition, imagination, speculation, inference, induction, inspiration, and revelation. These methods of thought are highly subjective. They include dreams and “mystical en...
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Albert Einstein's four great loves

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
Sometimes when you’re having a challenging day, you just need to look to words of wisdom from the past. What were Albert Einstein‘s four great loves? Here’s how he answered: 1. Theoretical physics 2. Playing the violin 3. Sailboating 4. Ice cream. ...
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Dave Eicher to appear on Astronomy.FM radio tonight

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
I will be appearing tonight on Astronomy.FM internet radio, hosted by Marty Kunz, to discuss astronomy, Astronomy magazine, the book I’m writing for Cambridge University Press, the meaning of the universe, and whatever else we get around to. It should be quite fun! The hourlong chat will begin at 9 p.m. EDT. You can listen to the interview live by going to http://astronomy.fm/.See you there! ...
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Astronomy loses a good friend in John Schroer

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
We have very sad news today of the loss of one of astronomy’s great promoters in the Midwest: planetarium expert and astronomy enthusiast John Schroer of Detroit. John died this week at the age of just 57. RIP John. Here is a tribute to John written by his friend Jon Blum: John SchroerSeptember 12, 1956 – July 14, 2014John Schroer was a beloved member of the Ford Amateur Astronomy Club in Dearborn, Michigan, who died of complications of his longstanding diabetes this month.John was a...
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Beautiful summer solstice Suns

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
The English astroimager Jamie Cooper (see his website) just sent me these fabulous images of the Sun setting over Caernarfon Bay, Wales, United Kingdom. Jamie captured them on the eve of the summer solstice, June 21, 2014.What beautiful images, and thanks, Jamie!...
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Astronomy magazine calls for debate over Pluto's nature

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
PRESS RELEASE: Waukesha, Wis., July 16, 2014 — Astronomy magazine is calling for an open and public debate over the planetary status of Pluto, which was notoriously changed in 2006 by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Editors of the magazine are volunteering to host such a public debate and to involve readers of the magazine in the process and the outcome. “Alan Stern and Neil deGrasse Tyson should hold a public debate on this issue to settle the logic behind what constitut...
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Sci-fi movie "51 Degrees" to premiere at Starmus Festival

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
I’ve kept you apprised of the many exciting activities planned for the Starmus Festival in the Canary Islands this September. We already have numerous astronauts, Nobel Prize winners, rock stars, and other notable speakers. And now we have the premiere of a fantastic science-fiction film as well!The film is set in London and deals with an asteroid colliding with Earth. This is not your typical sci-fi treatment, however. Astrophysicist and Queen guitarist Brian May contributed music to the ...
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Press release: Starmus takes off, the most ambitious all-star science festival

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
•    The Starmus Festival announces a supreme lineup featuring the biggest names in science today, including Stephen Hawking, Brian May, and Richard Dawkins•    The Canary Islands is the chosen setting for the only festival in the world that brings together Nobel Prize winners, astronauts, astrophysicists, biologists, and anthropologists at the same event•    The Canary Islands confirms its place as the location of choice for astrophysi...
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Starmus Festival releases full schedule

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
We now know exactly what will happen at the Starmus Festival in the Canary Islands, to be held September 22–27, on Tenerife and La Palma. This spectacular event will bring together numerous astronomers, cosmologists, astronaut-explorers, musicians, and artists for a week of talks, music, socializing, a film premiere, and much more. And there will still be some surprises.But now we know that Starmus Founder and Director Garik Israelian will kick off the festival — along with some...
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The surreal experience of editing Stephen Hawking

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
A couple days ago I got an email from Garik Israelian, the founder and director of the Starmus Festival, attaching a document. It was a foreword to the Starmus book we have been working on, a contribution written by the great theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. The second Starmus Festival will take place this September 22–27 in the Canary Islands, bringing together a who’s-who of astronomers, astronaut-explorers, cosmologists, biologists, chemists, and musicians to celebrate our k...
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A guest blog: More than a Telescope

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
When I was a young amateur astronomer growing up in southwestern Ohio, I had the pleasure of getting to know quite a few amateurs in the Cincinnati and Dayton areas. One of these was a kind and brilliant telescope maker named Dick Wessling, who sadly died in 2010, and we lost one of the most gracious friends and telescope experts around. One of Dick’s Cincinnati friends, Jeff Hutton, who is a an academic officer at Xavier University, contributes this special remembrance of Dick —&nbs...
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Astronomers Without Borders launches Telescopes to Tanzania campaign

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
Our good friend Mike Simmons, driving force behind the outreach group Astronomers Without Borders, sent the following press release, which will no doubt be of interest.Please check it out and support them in every way you can! Telescopes to Tanzania campaign launches on IndiegogoTanzanian Students Reach for the StarsCalabasas, CA – International astronomy advocacy group Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) today launched its Indiegogo fundraising campaign dedicated to building The C...
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Another Chilean photo memory

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
Our group at the 1.5-meter SMARTS Telescope, Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, Cerro Tololo, Chile, May 29, 2014. Photo by Daniel Thorpe. Thanks for sending this along, Daniel! ...
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A Chilean photo memory

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
Our Chilean tour group at ALMA’s Operations Center, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, May 26, 2014. Photo by Daniel Thorpe.Thanks for sending this along, Daniel! ...
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Astronomy magazine partners with Starmus astronomy and music festival

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
Waukesha, Wis. (July 7, 2014) – This fall, the greatest minds in space exploration, astronomy, cosmology, and planetary science will gather in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Their destination is the second Starmus Festival, a weeklong celebration consisting of talks, a star party, and a concert. Space enthusiasts from around the world are making arrangements to travel to Spain’s Canary Islands  (a destination analogous in distance and travel time to most continen...
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Astronomical League names award winners

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
The Astronomical League, the nation’s affiliation of astronomy clubs, has just announced two award winners for 2014. I give you two news releases from League President Carroll Iorg for details:The Astronomical League Award is Announced Kansas City, MO —The Astronomical League is pleased to announce the winner of the 2014 Astronomical League Award. The Astronomical League Award is presented to any person, either amateur or professional, who has made worthwhile contributions to the sci...
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Winding up IPS 2014 in Beijing

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
The last two days of the International Planetarium Society (IPS) meeting in Beijing, China, held last week at the Beijing Planetarium, went by in a flurry. A huge variety of activities brought together more than 350 planetarium professionals to explore all aspects of communicating science to the public. I have enjoyed my first IPS meeting greatly and stuck around through the entirety of the meeting after delivering my keynote address on Tuesday.Thursday, June 26, was a busy day. Sun Xiaochun of ...
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Visiting one of the oldest observatories in the world

Posted 2 months ago by David Eicher
On Wednesday, June 25, the International Planetarium Society meeting in Beijing, China, which has been going on for several days, started up as usual. But it wouldn’t be a usual day for long. Indeed, there were morning paper sessions presented by a variety of planetarium professionals, from a survey of customers at Adler Planetarium in Chicago to a history of planetarium projectors in China, to a call for a new committee investigating the best quality options for providing audio in new-gen...
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Speaking at the IPS in Beijing

Posted 2 months ago by David Eicher
Tuesday morning, June 24, began with my keynote address to the 350 attendees of the 22nd International Planetarium Society meeting at the Beijing Planetarium in, China. My talk was titled “Does the Universe Really Care About Itself? Communicating Astronomy in the 21st Century,” and it focused on the challenges we have with spreading the truth about science in this age. I examined the trends making it hard for younger people to get into serious subjects like astronomy, influenced more...

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