Robert Burnham, Jr.’s, 80th birthday

Posted by David Eicher
on Thursday, June 16, 2011

On May 17, I reported here the strange tale of Robert Burnham, Jr., the astronomer who wrote the much-loved observing guide Burnham's Celestial Handbook, a standard for amateur astronomers for many years. Today would have been Burnham's 80th birthday, and to mark the occasion science writer and editor Tony Ortega, a longtime friend of Astronomy magazine and now editor of The Village Voice, is publishing a special story.

Photo Credit: Tony Ortega/The Village Voice

And no, we are not talking about our Robert Burnham, the longtime editor at Astronomy magazine who now works at Arizona State University. The other Robert Burnham. Robert Burnham, Jr., died in 1993 at age 61, years after writing his famous book.

To mark what would have been Burnham's 80th birthday, Ortega is publishing an incredible, 24,000-word "manifesto" that constitutes a long and detailed autobiography written in 1983. Ortega published part one online today; see it at

You may also want to see Tony's 1998 article on Burnham published in Astronomy magazine.

And you can also see a March 1982 self-interview Burnham conducted in Astronomy magazine.

Part two of the huge Village Voice article will roll out tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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