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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America's Darkest Sky Star Party a Smashing Success

Posted 5 days ago by David Eicher
As I’ve said repeatedly, one of the gravest dangers a love of the universe poses is the lack of a dark sky. Light pollution maps show almost everything east of the Mississippi River, in the United States, as badly light polluted. Some 80 percent of Americans now cannot see the Milky Way from where they live.  One of the greatest skies in the United States looms over southwestern New Mexico. Near Animas, a tiny village, Dark Sky New Mexico put on a star party October 13–14, 20...
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Silent Sky in Milwaukee recounts tale of Harvard's famous women astronomers

Posted 12 days ago by David Eicher
If you find yourself in the area of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, over the coming days, I heartily encourage you to see the play Silent Sky at the Next Act Theater.  I was privileged to attend a cast reading from the play at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s planetarium about three weeks ago. I’ll see the play itself next week. I can tell you from what I’ve seen that this is a terrific show and a great performance from the actors.  Many of you undoubtedly know about...
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Beautiful coffee table book: Universe: Exploring the Astronomical World

Posted 12 days ago by David Eicher
The English publisher Phaidon is widely known for producing some of the most spectacular visual books in the business. They have produced a real winner in the science category with Universe: Exploring the Astronomical World (351 pp., hardcover, Phaidon, New York, 2017, $60, ISBN 978–0–7148–7461–6). Although many image-rich astronomy books have been published in past years, most have been knocked off rather quickly, lacking either superb production quality, knowledgeable...
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Great new book: Cataclysms by Michael Rampino

Posted 12 days ago by David Eicher
Relatively few are the new astronomy books each year that one could call really important. One of them was published late this summer, and it deserves the attention and careful reading of everyone who wants to be up to date with current thinking on astronomy.  Cataclysms: A New Geology for the Twenty-First Century by Michael R. Rampino (211 pp., hardcover, Columbia University Press, New York, 2017, $30, ISBN 978–0–231–17780–1) should be read by everyone with even ...
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Starmus congratulates Nobel Prize winners

Posted 18 days ago by David Eicher
Congratulations to Kip Thorne, Barry Barish, and Rainer Weiss on winning the Nobel Prize in Physics for their gravitational wave detection and discovery!  Facts you might not know about Kip S. Thorne: Kip S. Thorne was the one who first told Stephen Hawking about Starmus Festival in 2011, after which Professor Hawking accepted Brian May’s invitation to come to Starmus-2. Kip S. Thorne gave lectures at Starmus-1 and Starmus-3 and offered an amazing performance called “The Wa...
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David Eicher to deliver Miami University Benson Memorial Lecture

Posted 25 days ago by David Eicher
Oxford, Ohio: Miami University, founded in 1809 and often called a “Public Ivy” for its terrific academic and student offerings, hosts an annual invited physics lecture, the George C. Benson Memorial Lecture, to honor a young man who was lost to the university community far too soon. In April 2018, David Eicher, Editor-in-Chief of Astronomy Magazine and science popularizer, will deliver the annual lecture in his native town.  Eicher’s father John was a professor of orga...
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Come to the New Mexico Star Party Oct. 13-14!

Posted 25 days ago by David Eicher
On October 13–14, 2017, Dark Sky New Mexico will put on a great star party and host talks and a get-together to showcase their phenomenal viewing site. The Albuquerque Astronomical Society (TAAS) will be present with telescopes, and we’ll view an incredibly array of galaxies, clusters, and nebulae, as well as soaking in a mind-blowing view of the naked eye Milky Way overhead.  Moreover, Dark Sky New Mexico will describe how they are offering sites for astroimagers under a tru...
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Watch David Eicher interview on Space Science Summit

Posted 25 days ago by David Eicher
Last week I took part in a wide-ranging video interview conducted by the happy and very positive Ron Sparkman, an astronomy and sci-fi enthusiast in Colorado Springs. Ron and his friend Bill Hargenrader are together known as The Mars Guys and operate the Space Science and SciFi Summit, featuring interviews with a variety of personalities and other fun stuff at their website. Ron is the founder of UpportunityU.com. This year’s summit also features interviews with Andy Weir, astronaut Lero...
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Astronomy Magazine Eclipse Trip 2017 Day 11

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
On our journey’s last day of sightseeing, August 24, we worked our way into South Dakota and enjoyed not only a splendid hotel stay in Rapid City, but two wonderful monuments.  First came the Crazy Horse Memorial, paying tribute to the Native American warrior who fought in the Battle of the Little Bighorn and died tragically young while he was in captivity. The work has been going on here since 1948, and the progress, slow as it is, keeps people coming back to see how the mountain ...
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Astronomy Magazine Eclipse Trip 2017 Day 10

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
On Day 10 of our eclipse trip, our 89 intrepid travelers focused on the remainder of Yellowstone National Park. We stayed in lodges relatively near the famous Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and carried on by visiting that famous spot first thing in the morning of August 23. While this canyon does not match the sprawling vacancy of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado in Northern Arizona, it too is an impressive hole in the ground.  As we drove through the northern and eastern portions of Y...
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Astronomy Magazine Eclipse Tour 2017 Day 9

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
Well, what happens when you’re traveling with 89 eclipse chasers (and 350 on eclipse day!), you see the eclipse in a perfect sky, activities are happening dawn to dusk, and you return to work to a huge mass of catching-up to do?  The blogging goes by the wayside. But anyway, here I am to close out the story of our great trip to see the eclipse and national parks of the American West.  On the day following the eclipse, August 22, we headed north to Yellowstone National Park. A...
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Total Eclipse Day Success in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Posted 2 months ago by David Eicher
We had total success!! The 350 people at the Teton Science School outside of Jackson, Wyoming, had a perfect day, and are in total jubilation. Last night eclipse weather expert Jay Anderson and I gave three sets of talks about the eclipse, covering everything from how to view it to photography to safety procedures, and so on. And Jay spoke at length about weather prospects. We had some worries about haze and cirrus type clouds that might move over our eclipse site on the big day. But we determ...
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Astronomy Magazine Eclipse Tour 2017 Day 5

Posted 2 months ago by David Eicher
On Astronomy Magazine’s 2017 National Parks of the West Tour, Northbound, 89 of us are working our way toward Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for the total eclipse. We’ve toured several national parks and enjoyed the spectacle of Lowell Observatory’s treasures. On Friday, August 18, we enjoyed some of the historic and cultural treasures of Salt Lake City, Utah.  First came a trip to the Great Salt Lake, an amazing natural wonder, where we saw the salty water (now very low in dro...
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Astronomy Magazine Eclipse Tour 2017 Day 4

Posted 2 months ago by David Eicher
Astronomy Magazine is operating multiple tours to see the total solar eclipse coming this Monday. I’m on the Northbound National Parks of the West tour, along with 88 others on three buses, making our way slowly northward to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where we’ll see totality.  If it’s Thursday, this must be Bryce Canyon. We are in a whirlwind tour of parks, and have enjoyed them immensely — after seeing the spectacular sights of “America’s Observatory,&rd...
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Astronomy Magazine Eclipse Tour 2017 Day 3

Posted 2 months ago by David Eicher
The third day of our Astronomy Magazine Eclipse Tour 2017 commenced with waking up on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Within the National Park, we had breakfast and watched the Sun rise over the canyon, before walking out along the rim and photographing the splendor we could see everywhere. Our group, one of several touring with the magazine and TravelQuest tours, consisted of 89 people on three buses, moving steadily northward toward eclipse day in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  The Grand C...
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Astronomy Magazine Eclipse Tour 2017 Day 2

Posted 2 months ago by David Eicher
Our second day of the Astronomy Magazine Eclipse Tour 2017 commenced on Lake Powell, in northern Arizona, near the Arizona/Utah border. Our trip, northward bound, consists of 89 people on three buses, headed for eclipse day at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Monday the 21st. We are partners with Aram Kaprielian and his TravelQuest International crew, a great team of travel experts. We will meet a southbound group at Jackson Hole and have around 200 people at our eclipse site. The magazine is also pa...
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Astronomy Magazine Eclipse Tour 2017 Day 1

Posted 2 months ago by David Eicher
Following an array of flights to Phoenix from all manner of airports, the Astronomy Magazine 2017 Eclipse Tour kicked off, northward bound, headed for numerous national parks and historic astronomical sites en route to viewing the Great American Eclipse in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Monday the 21st. On our first big day of activities, Monday, August 14, we headed north from Scottsdale to Sedona, Arizona, where we saw the beautiful red sandstone rocks that make this town a tourist mecca. We did ...
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America's Darkest Sky Star Party planned for October 13-14, 2017

Posted 2 months ago by David Eicher
Dark Sky New Mexico has planned its second star party for observers and astroimagers for October 13–14, 2017, in Animas, New Mexico. As astronomy enthusiasts know, enjoying a world-class dark sky is increasingly hard for the majority of people in the world. In the United States, about 80 percent of the population lives in places where it cannot see the Milky Way. That‘s a sad state of affairs, and so truly dark sky star parties like this one are becoming far more important to those...
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Astronomy Magazine 2017 Eclipse Plans

Posted 2 months ago by David Eicher
The big event is nearly here. After years of chatting about the Great American Eclipse, nearly everyone we know is ready to head off on one direction or another to bask under the darkness of totality. If you’ve never seen a total eclipse, the effect is really almost magical. There’s no better way to feel the power of nature, to see the orbits of the moons and planets and stars come together, than to witness this great spectacle.  Astronomy Magazine has quite a few eclipse act...
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Guest blog: Are we doing more to protect potential aliens on other planets than animals here on Earth?

Posted 2 months ago by David Eicher
This guest blog comes from Paul Shapiro, the vice president of policy engagement at The Humane Society of the United States. You can follow him at https://twitter.com/PaulHShapiro. By Paul Shapiro  Before departing on their 1975 voyage to become the first spacecraft to land on Mars, the Viking 1 and 2 landers had one final task: they had to get baked. No, I’m not referring to a final going-away party for the billion-dollar machines. Rather, they were put in an oven for ne...
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Lowell Observatory's Amazing Anderson Mesa

Posted 2 months ago by David Eicher
In June I had the great fortune to attend my first meeting of the Board of Advisors at Lowell Observatory. This great institution is unique in the astronomy world, as I’ve written before, and should be treasured by all who adore the stars.  I’ve been here, there, and everywhere since, and finally have my feet back on the ground in Wisconsin for more than a few days. This situation allows me to finally share some photos by a fellow board member, Art Storbo, who sent me these n...
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Starmus Day 6 highlights

Posted 3 months ago by David Eicher
The final day of Starmus IV, Friday, June 23, 2017, began in Trondheim with scattered morning activities in the main hall and around the city.  Late in the morning the first big talk took place when Yale University cosmologist Priyamvada Natarajan delivered an eloquent lecture on dark matter and its relationship with the cosmological history of the universe. It was well attended and a treat to hear this great mind share her thoughts on cosmology.  The next talk was truly incredib...
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Starmus Day 5 highlights

Posted 3 months ago by David Eicher
Day 5 of the great Starmus Festival, Thursday, June 22, 2017, began in Trondheim like the other days, with some scattered morning programs throughout the city. The first major address on this day came from an old friend, Lord Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal of England. Martin is such a wonderful speaker and gave us a start-to-finish lecture on the cosmological history of the universe. It was simply magnificent, and constituted a State of the Union message on our understanding of Big Bang cos...
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Starmus Day 4 highlights

Posted 3 months ago by David Eicher
Starmus IV in Trondheim commenced its fourth day, Wednesday, June 21, 2017, with the usual morning activities. The first major event was a talk by Lisa Randall on a possible connection between dark matter and the extinction of the dinosaurs. Following this, the afternoon sped ahead with a major address that was inspiring and resulted in a standing ovation from the Festival crowd. Jeffrey Sachs, economist at Columbia University, described how dark money has corrupted American politics, influenc...
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Starmus Day 3 highlights

Posted 3 months ago by David Eicher
The third day of Starmus IV, Tuesday June 20, 2017, began as they all did, with some scattered morning programs. Some of these included on various days informal talks and lectures, and panel discussions. I participated in one at the Kaspersky Lab centering on what Earth will be like in 2050. I’ve never considered myself a strong futurist, but it was really fun talking about — and hearing from the crowd over — what life in the future may be like. And almost every day, in the s...
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Starmus Day 2 highlights

Posted 3 months ago by David Eicher
Monday, June 19, 2017, commenced day two of the Starmus Festival with a bang. TV star and physics professor Brian Cox, along with his partner in crime Robin Ince, kicked off the festivities with a live taping on the main stage of the “Infinite Monkey Cage” BBC4 radio podcast show, which was delightful. Brian and Robin hosted four astronauts: Charlie Duke, Sandy Magnus, Claude Nicollier, and Terry Virts, and talked about a huge range of space exploration topics that left the audienc...
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Starmus Day 1 highlights

Posted 3 months ago by David Eicher
Starmus IV, our fourth incarnation of the Starmus Festival, is history. The event took place June 18–23, 2017, in Trondheim, Norway. We had record crowds with 2,500 in attendance and thousands more seeing Starmus related exhibits and events throughout the city of Trondheim. I know that an average of 18,000 people watched the livestream. I think it’s fair to say it was the most amazing science festival put on thus far, and I’ll be summarizing events that occurred during the we...
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Eicher GALAXIES book to be published by Clarkson Potter

Posted 3 months ago by David Eicher
STAR GAZER LANDS AT CLARKSON POTTER BOOK DEALS / PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, JUNE 26, 2017 The editor-in-chief of Astronomy magazine, David Eicher, sold world rights to a nonfiction book called Galaxies. Jenni Zellner at Clarkson Potter won the book at auction from Laura Biagi at the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency. Biagi said the book was pitched as “Atlas Obscura for galaxies” and reveals their “inner workings and the most fascinating facts and newest discoveries about them.”...
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The recipients of the Stephen Hawking Medal

Posted 4 months ago by David Eicher
The Stephen Hawking Medal is awarded to Neil degrasse Tyson, Jean-Michel Jarre, and the producers of the CBS Hit Show “The Big Bang Theory”  For the first time, the medal is awarded to a US scientist, heralding a new wave of science enthusiasm in the US   Today, Starmus founder Professor Garik Israelian announced the Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication to three deserving winners: Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Jean-Michel Jarre and the CBS/Warner Bros. Televisi...
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David Eicher Starmus 2017 Schedule

Posted 4 months ago by David Eicher
Starmus IV is about to begin! With each iteration, the Festival becomes larger. This year’s event will no doubt be the largest and most spectacular yet.  I will be involved in so many things this year that I have a schedule to keep them straight: On Sunday, June 18, I will be hosting the first day of the Festival. I will introduce a stellar array of speakers, including Harrison Schmitt, Stefan Hell, Michel Mayor, Sandra Magnus, Sara Seager, Lynn Rothschild, David Zambuka, and Stev...