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 Astrophoto School, Day 2

Posted 2 days 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 2 days 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 2 days 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 6 days 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 6 days 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 8 days 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 8 days 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 14 days 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 21 days 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 23 days 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 23 days 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 23 days 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 23 days 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 26 days 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 28 days 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 29 days 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 one month 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 one month 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 one month 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 one month 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 one month 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 one month 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 2 months 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 2 months 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 2 months 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 2 months 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_645c476b-fda6-43ef-a1ea-2d28e78a59a9',''); ...
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Dave Eicher on Milwaukee TV "Morning Blend" on Monday

Posted 2 months 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 2 months 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 2 months 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 2 months 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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