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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Dave Eicher talks Pluto on "The Morning Blend"

Posted yesterday 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_5ba282ca-2e15-4afc-b95f-2b5c99e32ddf',''); ...
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Dave Eicher on Milwaukee TV "Morning Blend" on Monday

Posted 4 days 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 4 days 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 5 days 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 6 days 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 12 days 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 13 days 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 13 days 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 19 days 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 19 days 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 19 days 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 21 days 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 21 days 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 21 days 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 22 days 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 22 days 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 22 days 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 28 days 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 29 days 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 one month 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 one month 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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International Planetarium Society meets in Beijing

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
Hello from Beijing, China, site of the 22nd International Planetarium Society (IPS) conference, which is taking place at the magnificent and spectacularly large Beijing Planetarium, in the heart of the city. Invited as one of four keynote speakers at this week’s event, I arrived in Beijing on Sunday afternoon and was able to enjoy the opening evening reception before passing out, after hardly sleeping a wink for a day. I want to thank Dr. Jin Zhu, director of Beijing Planetarium, the marve...
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Greetings from Dr. Brian May

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
My wife Lynda, son Chris, and colleagues and friends Rich and Evelyn Talcott had the great pleasure of attending the Queen concert in Chicago last night, June 19, 2014. It was the first show of Queen’s North American/Australian tour this summer, and it was absolutely incredible.You may know that Dr. Brian May, Queen’s guitarist, vocalist, and founding member, is also a Ph.D. astrophysicist and member of Astronomy magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board.Brian sends warm greetings to...
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Delivering keynote speech at IPS Beijing

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
On Saturday morning, I’ll be leaving for Beijing, China, to attend and speak at the International Planetarium Society meeting. This great assemblage, the big meeting of the world’s planetarium professionals, takes place every two years. This year, it occurs June 21–28 and will chiefly be centered on the great new Beijing Planetarium. Hundreds of planetarium professionals will be in attendance, and I will be reporting on the event, its meaning, and the crucial role planetaria pl...
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Going to see Brian May and Queen in Chicago

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
Many of you know that Brian May, guitarist, vocalist, and founding member of the rock group Queen, is also a Ph.D. astrophysicist, having completed his degree on zodiacal dust in the solar system years after his success with the band began. In addition to being a musician and scientist, Brian is active in promoting animal welfare, particularly with the badger cull situation in England, and very active with his stereophotographic interests as well. You may also know that Brian is a member of Astr...
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Solar astronomy guru "Barlow Bob" dies

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
I’m sad to mention another loss in the amateur astronomy community: Robert “Barlow Bob” Godfrey, a fixture at the Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) for more than a decade, always pushing to show kids and adults alike views of the Sun, died last week. “Barlow Bob was the Johnny Appleseed of solar astronomy,” says Phil Harrington, a friend and longtime contributing editor to Astronomy magazine. Friends and colleagues who saw him at NEAF this year say he seemed his...
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Guest blog: Comet hunter William Bradfield dies

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
The amateur astronomy community receives sad news in the form of the death of the great Australian comet hunter William Bradfield, on June 9, 2014. Our good friend Amar Sharma of the Nikaya Observatory in Bangalore, India, sent this obituary for Bradfield with material from a chapter on Bradfield he was preparing for a documentary film about comet hunting. Bradfield was born in New Zealand and discovered 18 comets; his name was very familiar to comet enthusiasts over the last 40 years. I share ...
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Spectacular Mars image from Don Parker

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
A handful of astroimagers on this planet are among the best at capturing planets in our solar system, and Don Parker of Coral Gables, Florida, is one of them. Check out Don’s amazing image of Mars taken May 29, 2014, with his 14-inch SCT at f/23.8, ASI 120MM CCD camera, Astrodon filters, and composite exposures. This is about as good as the Red Planet gets! Congrats, Don!...
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Talk set for IPS China and Starmus

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to hammer away on a speech I’ve been slowly working on and finally finished it. I’ll be giving this talk as one of four keynote addresses at the International Planetarium Society meeting in about two weeks in Beijing, China.  I’ll also deliver a modified version of the talk later this year at the Starmus Festival in the Canary Islands. The talk is titled, “Does the Universe Care About Itself?: Communicating Astronomy in the 21s...
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Cool virtual reality pan of ALMA

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
Our group of more than 30 Astronomy readers had a spectacular time over the last couple weeks in Chile, seeing the greatest skies on Earth and some of the largest telescopes. One of the folks on our tour was Mike Smithwick, creator of the great planetarium program Distant Suns, a partner of Astronomy magazine.In Chile, Mike created some very cool virtual reality pan images at different sites. This one shows the operations building and a few antennae belonging to the Atacama Large Millimeter/subm...

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