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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Starmus Festival to hold astrophoto competition!

Posted yesterday by David Eicher
I’ve blogged before about the sensational Starmus Festival planned for this coming September in the Canary Islands. This get-together of great minds in space exploration, astronomy, cosmology, planetary science, biology, art, and music is like no other event on Earth. Speakers will be announced over the coming weeks — those already in the lineup include astronaut-explorers Charlie Duke, Edgar Mitchell, Jack Schmitt, and Alexei Leonov; Nobel Prize winners Robert Wilson and Harold...
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Al Nagler declares Saturnday

Posted 2 days ago by David Eicher
I had a great time visiting with Al Nagler, Tele Vue Optic's legendary founder, at the Northeast Astronomy forum last weekend.Al wants you to know that tomorrow, and every day that follows Friday, is hereby declared SATURNDAY.Please see below for the note from Al.And enjoy Saturnday.. . . .I've found that first-time views of Saturn through a telescope typically elicit gasps of delight followed by inquisitive questioning.Saturn's startling beauty can open the door to wonders and knowledge about t...
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Speaking on comets at the 2014 Northeast Astronomy Forum

Posted 6 days ago by David Eicher
Sunday, April 13, was another mesmerizingly busy day at the Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF), held at Rockland Community College in Suffern, New York. Attendance was definitely up from last year, and the general feeling was that a flux of new people who have been watching the Cosmos series on FOX may have been filtering into the event. More than 100 vendors exhibited their telescopes, cameras, binoculars, and accessories, and there were plenty of exciting things going on with products, headlined...
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A jam-packed first day at the 2014 Northeast Astronomy Forum

Posted 7 days ago by David Eicher
Wow. I have been to the Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) many times since the late 1980s, and I’ve never had a day there quite as jam-packed and intensely busy as was Saturday, April 12, the first day of NEAF 2014. Many thanks to my colleague Jeff Felbab, Astronomy magazine’s advertising sales manager, for setting up our impressive, new and improved booth. We were busy nearly continuously talking to hundreds of amateur astronomers throughout the whole day, handing out magazines, show...
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Heavy-duty imaging at the 2014 Northeast Astro-Imaging Conference

Posted 7 days ago by David Eicher
Day two of the famous Northeast Astro-Imaging Conference (NEAIC) got off to a fast start Friday, April 11, 2014, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Suffern, New York, with about 200 serious imagers attending talks and sharing their love of the universe. Talks began with a breathtaking session by English astroimager Gordon Haynes, who is using a new Tele Vue system from mid-north England to produce incredible views of deep-sky objects, many of them processed in Photoshop with the so-called Hubble Palet...
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Deep thoughts at the 2014 Northeast Astro-Imaging Conference

Posted 9 days ago by David Eicher
The Northeast Astro-Imaging Conference (NEAIC), one of the nation’s two great conferences for sky photographers, kicked off yesterday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Suffern, New York. Some 200 dedicated skyshooters were on hand for a day of talks, vendor displays, workshops, and informal chatting about the rapidly evolving field of astroimaging in a two-day event that precedes the huge Northeast Astronomy Forum, which takes place this weekend.Many old friends were in attendance. The talks ar...
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Northeast Astronomy Forum looms

Posted 12 days ago by David Eicher
Tomorrow, I’ll be heading to Suffern, New York, to attend the Northeast Astro-Imaging Conference (NEAIC), on Thursday and Friday, and the largest annual gathering of amateur astronomy in the United States, the Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF), on Saturday and Sunday. As always, it will be a pleasure to see many of you there, and Jeff Felbab, Astronomy’s ad manager, will be along for NEAF, with our new and large booth set up. Please drop by and say hello. I’ll be delighted to b...
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Get ready for the StarLight Festival!

Posted 12 days ago by David Eicher
This Memorial Day weekend, I hope you will be in the area of Los Angeles — more specifically, near Big Bear, California. If so, you will be in for an incredible treat. Scott Roberts of Explore Scientific, a longtime friend of the magazine, has assembled an incredible array of fun in the first ever StarLight Festival, May 24–25, 2014, in Big Bear Lake, California. The event is proudly sponsored by Pepsi and is hosted by Scott’s own AstronomyOutreach Network. Quite an array...
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Starmus announces astrophotography school!

Posted 12 days ago by David Eicher
The most exciting astronomy meeting of our year will no doubt be the second Starmus Festival, to be held September 22–27, 2014, at Tenerife and La Palma in the Canary Islands, Spain. A who’s who of astronaut-explorers, astronomers, biologists, chemists, and musicians will gather for an amazing week of talks, socializing, stargazing, and music. Among those who will be attending and speaking are astronauts Charlie Duke, Edgar Mitchell, Jack Schmitt, Alexei Leonov, Vladimir Dzhanibekov...
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A phenomenal Mars shot ... from Earth

Posted 13 days ago by David Eicher
My friend Robert Burnham sent me a link to this incredible shot of Mars, made by Australian amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley. Anthony used a 16-inch scope and shot the image on March 6, 2014, from Murrumbateman, Australia. At the time, Mars was some 12.3 arcseconds across, and this photo shows great detail in the polar caps, albedo markings, and clouds — just great stuff. Mars is of course at its best in approximately six years just about now, reaching opposition tomorrow. Enjoy the...
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Real Reality Show starts on Astronomy.com

Posted 15 days ago by David Eicher
A couple weeks ago, I started a series of videos about astronomy and space that are meant to cut to the chase with some current topics that are going on in the field. The first week, I focused on some big news events of the last week of March — the cosmology discovery about inflation, gravitational waves, and so forth. Last week I discussed the distance scale of the solar system, with a chart and a walk down the hall displaying relative distances. You can find the first episode here.A...
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New FOX show wants astronomer in cast

Posted 15 days ago by David Eicher
A new FOX TV series called Utopia is looking for an astronomer. And you could be the one. Suzanne Gilreath of The Conlin Company in Los Angeles writes that the show, modeled after a successful Dutch TV series, will follow 15 people from around the country for a year as they create a new micro-society. An astronomer is likely to be useful for the group for navigation in the sky, for knowledge of the constellations, and for generally being a pretty smart person. Interested in spending a year of yo...
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Brian May and Rick Wakeman coming to Starmus Festival!

Posted 17 days ago by David Eicher
I have exciting news from my friend Garik Israelian on the amazing Starmus Festival, a gathering on astronomy, space exploration, cosmology, and music, set to be held in the Canary Islands this September. I’m delighted to say that Astronomy magazine is the festival’s exclusive media partner. This is going to be one of the biggest events in recent times for astronomy and space enthusiasts. I’ve already blogged about the event, and the speakers who have been announced, including ...
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Starmus Festival welcomes five legendary cosmonauts!

Posted 18 days ago by David Eicher
I have exciting news from my friend Garik Israelian on the amazing Starmus Festival, a gathering on astronomy, space exploration, cosmology, and music, set to be held in the Canary Islands this September. I’m delighted to say that Astronomy magazine is the festival’s exclusive media partner. This is going to be one of the biggest events in recent times for astronomy and space enthusiasts. I’ve already blogged about the event and the speakers who have been announced, including t...
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Reflections on Carl Sagan and the new Cosmos

Posted 18 days ago by David Eicher
I've watched the new incarnation of Cosmos with a sharp eye, for several reasons. When I was young, I was one of those who knew Carl Sagan, and I was materially influenced in my career path by him. Currently, I'm involved in a weekly series of Google Hangouts with Astronomy and Discover magazine editors critiquing and commenting on the episodes as they swing by. But I have to say that for all of this, I am very impressed with the job that the new Cosmos team has done. Listening to some of the r...
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Huffington Post Carl Sagan and Cosmos Blog

Posted 19 days ago by David Eicher
Many of you have asked me what I think of the new Cosmos TV series on FOX, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. I love it. There are a few things to discuss at minor levels, but it is a superb production thus far, ably communicating the spirit and essence of Carl Sagan. Check out my full blog comments on the show, posted yesterday on The Huffington Post.And by the way, every week editors from Astronomy and Discover magazines are participating in a Google Hangout discussing the episodes in detail. The ...
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Join the Online Messier Marathon!

Posted 19 days ago by David Eicher
Many of you know our friend Gianluca Masi of Rome, Italy, who is owner and scientific director of the Virtual Telescope Project and an astrophysicist and curator of science at the planetarium in Rome. Gianluca has let me know that today, Tuesday, April 1, 2014, he is conducting an online virtual Messier Marathon, for the 6th time, in which you can observe all the Messier objects — star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. The event starts at 18:00 UT, and you can participate via the...
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Tony Hallas's spectacular Orion Nebula

Posted 20 days ago by David Eicher
The Orion Nebula (M42) is the most observed emission nebula in the sky, a spectacular stellar birthplace located some 1,500 light-years away in the belt of the most famous constellation of the winter evening sky. It is often photographed by amateur astronomers — so much so that we are almost numbed by seeing too many images of it. This image, however, is different. Check out the superb detail in this shot by northern California astrophotographer Tony Hallas, a longtime friend and con...
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Northeast Astronomy Forum rapidly approaching

Posted 22 days ago by David Eicher
Once again, I’m delighted to say that Astronomy magazine will be a principal sponsor of the Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) telescope show in New York, the largest astronomy gathering in the United States. This year, NEAF takes place April 12 and 13 at Rockland Community College in Suffern, New York, and is again hosted by the Rockland Astronomy Club.Chairman Ed Siemenn does a great job of running this big show, which draws several thousand people each year to view more than 100...
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Check out the Northeast Astro-Imaging Conference

Posted 24 days ago by David Eicher
Over the past 10 years, the Northeast Astro-Imaging Conference (NEAIC), held each year in Suffern, New York, has become one of the principal places where astrophotographers can learn a great deal from their fellow hobbyists. If you have any interest in imaging the sky, whether it be with simple camera and tripod or with sophisticated telescopic shooting, I really encourage you to go. This year, NEAIC takes place just before its sister conference, the Northeast Astronomy Forum, on April 10 and 11...
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Great contest for UK astroimagers

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
For those of you UK astrophotographers looking for a great opportunity, I want to pass along an announcement I just received from the UK National Photography Awards. This year's awards include an astronomy category, judged by one of England's most famous astronomers, Lord Martin Rees. I've included the full announcement below, and I encourage those eligible to participate. Good luck! --- UK National Photography Awards announce Lord Martin Rees as guest judge for Astronomy category The UK Nati...
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Check out ASU's "Red Planet Report" website!

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
Robert Burnham, former editor in chief of Astronomy, has for some years been working on Mars and related science activities at Arizona State University in Tempe. One of the many things Robert is involved with is running a great website, known as the Red Planet Report, devoted to new martian imagery. Just about every day, Robert posts new images, news reports about Mars science, and other updates that are key to understanding the central focus of planetary science. It is a GREAT resource, and you...
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Watch an asteroid whiz past Earth on Wednesday

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
On Wednesday, March 5, 2014, at 21:07 UT (that’s 4:07 p.m. EST), a 98-foot-diameter (30 meters) asteroid will pass a mere 217,000 miles (350,000 kilometers) from Earth. While that’s a long hike, the small space rock will hurtle 0.9 lunar distances — that is, closer than the Moon is to us. Designated 2014 DX110, the asteroid poses no threat of striking Earth but will make for an interesting show. Thanks to Gianluca Masi’s Virtual Telescope Project 2.0 Web pages, you w...
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Talks shape up for Northeast Astronomy Forum

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
With less than six weeks to go before the Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF), the organizers have issued a lineup of talks that will be presented this year. NEAF is the largest astronomy and telescope expo in the United States, drawing several thousand people over a weekend to Rockland Community College in Suffern, New York, about 28 miles north of New York City. The event is hosted by the Rockland Astronomy Club and many of its intrepid, tireless officers, including chairman Ed Siemenn and that w...
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Tony Hallas' phenomenal Tadpole Nebula shot

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
Deep-sky observers know about the wispy nebulae inhabiting the constellation Auriga. There’s IC 405, the Flaming Star Nebula, and also a somewhat fainter large nebula called IC 410. The nebulosity surrounds an open star cluster, and the object lies a few degrees southwest of the bright Messier clusters M36 and M38. Within IC 410 is a curious structure, a pair of parallel, twisting cometary nebulae nicknamed the Tadpoles. California astroimager Tony Hallas has long been at the head of his c...
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Amar Sharma: Guest blog on eclipse comets

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
You comet hunters out there have a treat — a guest blog from Amar A. Sharma of the Nikaya Observatory in Bangalore, India, that is the most comprehensive story about eclipse comets I know of. Enjoy!...
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Damian Peach's M99 supernova shot

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
In late January, we had a bright supernova in the well-loved galaxy M82 in Ursa Major. A month ago, astronomers discovered a supernova, albeit fainter than M82’s, in the Virgo cluster galaxy M99, located some 50 million light-years away in Coma Berenices.Designated Supernova 2014L, the object glowed at approximate magnitude 15.7 on January 28, 2014. It lies 14" west and 16" south of the center of M99. On February 23, the star shone at magnitude 15.4, and English astrophotographer Damian Pe...
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Now you can name a crater on Mars

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
Thanks to Alan Stern’s Uwingu project, you can now help to raise money for science funding by naming craters on Mars. The latest? Eicher Crater, 10.5 kilometers in diameter, nestled next to Sagan Crater, at latitude 10.32° N, longitude 330.22° E. Where else? The naming is unofficial as far as the IAU is concerned, but hey — if it raises money for astronomy, cosmology, and planetary exploration, why not? You can find out more at uwingu.com.The whole Astronomy staff has ta...
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The light pollution reduction challenge

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
David Fuller, amateur astronomer and friend of the magazine, runs the Eyes on the Sky website, which features many self-produced videos of interest. Now, he has also issued a challenge relating to light pollution. Read on . . . Eyes on the Sky as a website exists entirely as a means to raise awareness about light pollution and work toward reducing it. I started writing articles for my local newspaper to educate about the night sky and include a paragraph or two about light pollution, and then i...
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Tony Hallas' amazing Flaming Star Nebula

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
Lots of things on the go today — only enough time to share an image — this one another killer shot from Tony Hallas. Tony has been experimenting with the 11-inch Celestron 1100 HD with EdgeHD optics, and this scope is producing amazing results. This shot shows you the Flaming Star Nebula (IC 405) in Auriga. Many more to come . . . Now back to work for Dave!...

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