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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Liz Kruesi named contributing editor of Astronomy magazine

Posted 2 days ago by David Eicher
I am very pleased today to announce that Liz Kruesi has been made a contributing editor of Astronomy magazine. Liz left the magazine staff a few weeks ago to move to Austin, Texas, where her husband took a job in the medical profession. Liz had been an associate editor of Astronomy, and before that an assistant editor, for several years, over stints of 2005–2006 and 2008 until just a few weeks ago. I know that you’ve enjoyed Liz’s great science writing and reporting in the maga...
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Erika Rix named contributing editor of Astronomy magazine

Posted 2 days ago by David Eicher
I am so pleased today to report that columnist and writer Erika Rix is now a contributing editor of Astronomy. As you probably know, Erika, who lives with her husband, Paul, in Liberty Hill, Texas, has written a column in the magazine about astronomical sketching since the January 2013 issue. She also has contributed some feature stories to the magazine. Erika is an accomplished observer and is well-known for her meticulous eyepiece renderings of a wide variety of solar system and deep-sky objec...
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UFOs: Book excerpt from "The New Cosmos"

Posted 3 days ago by David Eicher
From my forthcoming Cambridge University Press book, The New Cosmos . . .The multiple efforts now underway to search for extraterrestrial civilizations invariably raises the favorite question of many TV shows: Has alien life visited Earth in the form of UFOs? After all, half of the American public believes alien beings have visited our planet. The claims of UFO proponents, when actually subjected to the principles of scientific analysis, are not very good. Moreover, anyone who spends a few hours...
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Dave Eicher to speak at New York/New Jersey Mineral Show 2015

Posted 7 days ago by David Eicher
I’m delighted to say that I’ve been invited to come and deliver my first talk at a mineral and gem show — the 2015 New York/New Jersey Mineral, Fossil, Gem, and Jewelry Show. It will be held April 10–12, 2015, at the New Jersey Convention and Expo Center in Edison, just outside New York City, and will offer up 400 dealer booths, 14,000 visitors, and spectacular exhibits of minerals and gems. The show is the second largest in the United States, after the annual Tucson...
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Writing a book

Posted 11 days ago by David Eicher
Writing a book is a little like being imprisoned. There’s you, your laptop, your bedroom, a whole lotta time, and maybe an occasional football game. I’m pleased to report that I’m a few writing sessions away from finishing a very large book project I’ve been working on for a year. Titled The New Cosmos: Answering Astronomy’s Big Questions, the book will be published by Cambridge University Press in late 2015. The book covers a variety of big topics in astronomy, cos...
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Watch Avi Loeb speak on life in the universe

Posted 15 days ago by David Eicher
Avi Loeb is one of the most knowledgeable and entertaining astronomers on the planet, and he also happens to be the chairman of the Astronomy Department at Harvard University. He is the Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science and director of the university’s Institute for Theory and Computation. I am always amazed at his knowledge. Now you can watch a recent lecture he gave on life in the universe, a very entertaining topic, and soak in the words of one of our most brilliant scientists. ...
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Damian Peach's Milky Way selfie

Posted 17 days ago by David Eicher
During the Astrophoto School portion of Starmus, at Teide Observatory on the summit of Tenerife, I had the good fortune to finally meet and spend some time with a longtime contributor to Astronomy, Damian Peach. Damian is well-known as one of the greatest planetary and comets photographers on the planet, as you may know. Before leaving the main Starmus event, on September 27, 2014, Damian took this incredibly cool selfie with the Milky Way. Check it out! Follow David J. Eicher on Twitter...
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Guest blog: Neil Norman on Comet C/2014 Q2

Posted 21 days ago by David Eicher
English amateur astronomer Neil Norman shares his thoughts and experience with the discovery of Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) this past August. Enjoy!The discovery of a new comet is always an exciting time for those of us who specialize in these icy wanderers of the solar system. It is even more exciting when the discoverer is an amateur astronomer, and this is exactly what happened August 19, 2014.We live in an age now where social media governs a large proportion of our lives. In days past, the an...
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Two astro art shows in Tucson!

Posted 22 days ago by David Eicher
Simon Kregar of the International Association of Astronomical Artists (IAAA) writes about not one, but two, astronomical art shows looming in Tucson over the next few weeks. Here is Simon’s message:I am writing to you today on behalf of the International Association of Astronomical Artists to cordially invite you to not one, but two world-class space art shows in Tucson, Arizona, within a month of each other. As you know, Tucson is home to the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) as well a...
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Celestron a Gold Sponsor at Starmus

Posted 22 days ago by David Eicher
The Starmus Festival in the Canary Islands, held September 22–27, flew past in a flurry. There were so many talks, informal sessions chatting with some of the 800 people in attendance, major lectures by Stephen Hawking and others, and rock and roll from Brian May and Rick Wakeman. What an incredible experience it was. Astronomy magazine was the exclusive media sponsor of the conference, and we look forward to the next Starmus, perhaps a couple years from now. You should also know that Cele...
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Max Alexander's great Herschel Telescope shot!

Posted 23 days ago by David Eicher
One of the many people I had the chance to meet at the recent Starmus Festival in the Canary Islands was New Zealand-born photographer Max Alexander, a highly skilled professional long based in London. Max has photographed a huge range of subjects from astronomy to rock and roll and lots of other things in between. Following Starmus, Max sent me a sensational star trail image he shot a few years ago at the William Herschel Telescope on La Palma, where this year we had toured the observatories. I...
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Dave Eicher interviewed at Starmus

Posted 23 days ago by David Eicher
A delightful journalist named Johnny Bliss, who contributes to a German website called FM 4 — Radio Live, interviewed me following my talk at Starmus a couple weeks ago. He was assisted by another delightful guy, Ilya Baykin.You can listen to the interview and read Johnny’s lively and entertaining account of the Starmus events here. Enjoy!For more on Starmus, see www.starmus.com.Follow David J. Eicher on Twitter: www.twitter.com/deicherstar...
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Wrapping up Starmus

Posted 24 days ago by David Eicher
Well, the last day of the magnificent Starmus Festival in the Canary Islands wrapped up Tuesday, September 30, at the Teide Observatory on Tenerife. There we held the third and final day of the Starmus Astrophoto School, in which Damian Peach and I gave talks on image processing (Damian) and photorgaphic treasures from Astronomy magazine’s vault (me). It marked the end of 10 days of incredible adventure, of talks, a spectacular concert, a great film, lots of talking over dinners and lunche...
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Starmus Astrophoto School, Day 2

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
Following the incredible Starmus Festival last week in Tenerife and La Palma, Canary Islands, an Astrophoto School put on by Starmus founder Garik Israelian has collected a small group of 18 enthusiastic attendees and speakers to delve into the mysteries of capturing great images of the sky. The school is taking place at the breathtaking Teide Observatory, on the summit of Tenerife, at an altitude of 7,841 feet (2,390 meters). The observatory, operated by the Institute for Astrophysics in Teneri...
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Starmus ends, Astrophoto School begins

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
Following the incredible Sonic Universe Concert with Rick Wakeman and Brian May on Friday night, the Starmus Festival in Tenerife, Canary Islands, entered its last hours over the weekend. On Saturday, September 27, the group traveled to the Auditorio de Tenerife for a special program honoring Alexei Leonov and Neil Armstrong. This Space Legends program featured a presentation by Leonov, the first human to walk in space, on the planned Soviet lunar program that never got off the ground, with thou...
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Starmus Day 5: Sonic Universe Concert featuring Rick Wakeman and Brian May

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
On the fifth day of Starmus, Friday, September 26, the speakers and other invited guests wrapped up our overnight stay on La Palma, at the Gran Telescopio Canarias, having participated in the GTC round-table discussion the night before. We explored the many telescopes on the mountain, with the summit unfortunately surrounded in some fog, and then proceded back to the airport to fly back to Tenerife.After arriving in mid-afternoon, we checked back into the Abama Resort, changed and readied oursel...
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Starmus Day 4: 108-minute round table at the world's largest telescope

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
On Thursday, September 25, attendees from the Starmus Festival in Tenerife, Canary Islands, boarded an aircraft at Tenerife North airport and set off on a 30-minute flight to another of the Canaries, La Palma, to trek to the world’s largest single aperture optical telescope, the 10.4-meter Gran Telescopio Canarias. Situated at the peak of La Palma at an altitude of 7,438 feet (2,267 meters), the telescope is, of course, the instrument of a large amount of cutting edge research in modern as...
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Starmus Day 3: Book signing, Duke, Kroto, Cunningham, Ellis

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
The wonderful Starmus Festival in the Canary Islands rolled along on Wednesday, September 24, with another full slate. In the morning, we had a “meet and greet” with the speakers — lots of signings and photos snapped with many dozens of the delegates among the invited guests and VIPs. Immediately following that session, the organizers held a massive book signing for the Starmus book, with Editors Garik Israelian, Brian May, and me, and all the current speakers, signing copies o...
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Starmus Day 2: Hawking, May, "51 Degrees North" film

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
Wow. It seems like we’ve been here a week — so much has gone on — but it has been merely two days. On Tuesday, September 23, the second day of the Starmus Festival, a celebration of astronomy, cosmology, science, music, and the arts being held in the Canary Islands, began with a bang. The group of 600 delegates and some additional 200 media and exhibitors traveled from our base at the Ritz-Carlton Abama Resort to the Magma Arte & Congresos, a large auditorium for several sp...
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Starmus begins with Wilson, Eicher, Dawkins, and Harvati

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
A very long trip from Milwaukee to Chicago to Madrid to Tenerife brought my wife, Lynda, and I to the second Starmus Festival in the Canary Islands by noon on Monday, September 22. This is a paradise, the African equivalent of Hawaii, exceptionally beautiful volcanic islands with one of the world’s greatest skies overhead. The only problem was that after the hourlong drive south from the airport to the Ritz-Carlton Abama resort, where the conference is being held, we had been going without...
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Heading to speak at Starmus

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
Ahh, crazy times. I am cranking away on Astronomy magazine and finishing a huge book project for Cambridge University Press called The New Cosmos: Answering Astronomy’s Big Questions. More on that later. But I’m also getting ready to leave the country on Sunday to travel to the Starmus Festival in the Canary Islands. Starmus will be an incredible treat, and if you’re going, I’ll look forward to seeing you there. The festival of astronomy, science, and music will stretch S...
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Watch Alex Filippenko speak at LinkedIn

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
Alex Filippenko is one of astronomy’s great treasures. Consistently voted the most popular professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Alex has a way with engaging, entertaining presentations — and precise science. I want to call your attention to Alex’s videotaped talk, “Discovering Our Celestial Connections: New data on Exploding Stars, Exoplanets, and Black Holes from UC’s Lick Observatory,” which was recorded at LinkedIn headquarters last week. Wh...
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Steve Cullen appointed executive director of the Astronomy Foundation

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
The nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization the Astronomy Foundation, which has had a quiet year of hibernation while acquiring its nonprofit tax status, is reawakening in a big way. The group is the first astronomy industry association and is dedicated to astronomy outreach, to bringing a love of the universe to millions of new people through outreach, education, and technology. The foundation has taken an important step forward by appointing Steve Cullen, a highly respected technology executive and a...
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Starmus Festival and Stephen Hawking launch the book "Starmus, 50 Years of Man in Space"

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
•    Garik Israelian presents the first copy to Stephen Hawking, the author of the foreword, who later today sets out from Southampton to Tenerife to headline Starmus 2014•    The organization also releases unpublished material from the first festival: the video 108 minutes of the round-table discussions and a video interview with the cosmonaut Alexei Leonov•    A book signing will be organized at the festival; the book will be ava...
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Dave Eicher, Alan Stern, others talk Pluto on radio show

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
A planet is a planet is a planet. Unless it’s Pluto — then it’s a dwarf planet. But even then it’s a planet, according to experts. So what was behind the unpopular reclassification of Pluto by astronomers, and were they justified?As the New Horizons spacecraft closes in on this small body, one planetary scientist says that this dwarf planet could be more typical of planets than Mars, Mercury, and Saturn. And that our solar system has not eight or even nine planets, but 90...
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Starmus Festival and Stephen Hawking launch book "Starmus: 50 Years of Man in space"

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
Just two weeks before the Starmus Festival 2014, the organizers launch Starmus, 50 Years of Man in Space, a book about the first Starmus Festival. During the launch, held in the British city of Southampton, Garik Israelian, the festival's founder, had introduced Stephen Hawking, the author of the foreword, presenting the first book copy, before Hawking set sail to Tenerife.A book signing will be organized at the festival; the book will be available for sale at the festival and on the Starmus off...
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RIP Tomm Lorenzin

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
A very active amateur astronomer, friend of the magazine, and author of deep-sky material, Tomm Lorenzin, died recently in his beloved North Carolina. Tomm, 67, was well known by observers for his 1000+: The Amateur Astronomer's Field Guide to Deep-sky Observing, published in 1992.Here is a link to Tomm's obituary.RIP Tomm....
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Glimpses of "Astronomy" magazine's past

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
Thirty years ago, Astronomy magazine was published by a small company called AstroMedia Corp., and we were headquartered down on St. Paul Avenue in the heart of Milwaukee. The year was 1985, Halley’s Comet was returning to our skies, and we were months away from Kalmbach Publishing Co. buying out AstroMedia. I was an assistant editor, having been on the magazine’s staff for three years. We shared the offices with the staff of Odyssey magazine, the space and astronomy title for kids. ...
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The ten commandments of science

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
A religious credo is a guideline for life, a suggestion of purpose, and an imperative goal for humanity. Ten is a popular number. Commandments are those principles that humans must heed and follow. Commandments should be positive and compelling rather than negative and prohibiting. They are prescriptions of natural law as applied to religious humanism. Why, though, should science not also have its “Ten Commandments”? Here is the current set of commandments through the eyes of science...
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PRESS RELEASE: Starmus: 35 days! New musical performers, astrophoto contest winner, unforgettable closing ceremony!

Posted 2 months 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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