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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Membership invited to Astronomy Foundation annual board meeting at NEAF

Posted 5 hours ago by David Eicher
The Astronomy Foundation, the first and only telescope industry association, will hold its annual meeting at the Northeast Astronomy Forum in Suffern, New York, on Saturday, April 18, 2015. The Astronomy Foundation general membership is invited to attend and to voice their input on the group’s future activities, mostly centered on promoting astronomy outreach. This past year, the Astronomy Foundation secured its 501(c)3 nonprofit status and is now ready to organize and promote activities. ...
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Linda Lamon's beautiful "Rainbow of Light" song features Katerina Mina!

Posted 6 hours ago by David Eicher
Want a good way to celebrate Friday? How about listening to a beautiful new song, “Rainbow of Light,” which was inspired by the Starmus Festival. The song celebrates UNESCO’s International Year of Light 2015. Written by English songwriter and musician Linda Lamon, the beautiful track features the amazing singing talent of soprano Katerina Mina, who wowed the audience at Starmus. You can listen to the song here, on SoundCloud.The press release follows:SONG INSPIRED BY THE S...
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Faroe Islands adventures

Posted 4 days ago by David Eicher
On Friday, March 20, our group viewed what we could of the total solar eclipse from a site close to Tórshavn, Faroe Islands. The day before, and the two days following, however, we had a variety of adventures in and around Tórshavn, the largest city in the islands, and in Klaksvik, the second largest city.These included wandering around looking at the beautiful and historic buildings of this amazing island chain. Much of the history involves stories of Vikings, but other settlers p...
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Total eclipse day in the Faroes 2015

Posted 4 days ago by David Eicher
Well, what can I say? Our group of 50 Astronomy magazine readers, led by MWT Associates, went for totality in the Faroe Islands on Friday, March 20, 2015, as did thousands of travelers here. In the end, we did not see the eclipse. The skies simply clouded us out. But we saw the light drop down to virtually nothing, and come up again, along with some weird horizon twilight effects during totality around the edges of the sky, peeking through the cloud deck. We also saw the emergence of the Sun&rsq...
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Eclipse Day!

Posted 7 days ago by David Eicher
Well, the big day is here!Yesterday, Thursday, March 19, our group of explorers had another unusual day in the Faroe Islands, between Iceland and the edge of the United Kingdom. I started off the day with a lecture to the group, “Does the Universe Really Care about Itself?,” the same talk I delivered at the Starmus Festival last fall.We then ventured out for a 6-mile (10 kilometers) walk across the top of the mountain, and we had light to moderate rain pretty much the whole time. Tha...
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50th anniversary of Alexei Leonov's historic first spacewalk

Posted 8 days ago by David Eicher
Yesterday, our tour group scrambled from Iceland to the Faroe Islands, hopeful to view Friday’s total solar eclipse, despite some grim weather predictions.As we traveled, the world of spaceflight marked a hugely important anniversary.On March 18, 1965, Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov made the first ever human spacewalk, venturing outside his space capsule for 12 minutes during the Voskhod 2 mission. As has been written about many times, Leonov had a difficult time squeezing back into the sp...
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One of the greatest auroral storms I have ever seen in my life

Posted 9 days ago by David Eicher
Late in the day on Tuesday, March 17, on Iceland’s south shore, Astronomy’s 2015 eclipse tour group stopped for a wonderful dinner. We had lobster and all manner of trimmings in huge bowls in a lovely roadside inn after a very long day of touring spectacular sights (see the other blog about today).And then, with a sky that had cleared completely throughout the day, we had an incredible treat. A solar storm was raging in Earth’s atmosphere, caused by a coronal mass ejection from...
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Iceland's South Shore and lectures

Posted 9 days ago by David Eicher
On Tuesday, March 17, we donned our green and went exploring along Iceland’s southern coastline, seeing an incredible array of waterfalls, an immense ice-capped volcanic caldera, some beautiful historical villages and museums, and other treasures.But first, we endured lectures by myself and noted astroimager Dennis Mammana. Dennis delivered his humor and experience to our group of 50 with a big collection of tips about how to photograph the fast-approaching eclipse. I went through the ecli...
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Astronomy eclipse expedition explores Iceland

Posted 10 days ago by David Eicher
On our second day, March 16, the 2015 Astronomy magazine eclipse tour group focused on the remarkable geology and history of Iceland. We got a firm start in Reykjavik, the country’s capital and by far the largest city (with some two-thirds of the entire population in the Reykjavik area), our group swelled to some 50 people with a few more joining us.We took a second drive around the city, stopping at a couple of important places, such as the former French consulate, Höfði, where i...
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Astronomy's 2015 eclipse trip begins in Reykjavik, Iceland

Posted 11 days ago by David Eicher
Following our journeys from various places in the United States, the 35 travelers on Astronomy magazine’s 2015 eclipse tour met up in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, on Sunday morning, March 15, 2015. We then commenced a nine-day trip that will allow us to explore the amazing geology of various places in Iceland, as well as travel to the Faroe Islands on Wednesday in hopes of seeing next week’s total solar eclipse. These are hardy travelers, many of whom have seen previous eclips...
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Astronomy.FM talks comets with Alan Hale, Jim Scotti, and David Eicher

Posted 11 days ago by David Eicher
The Internet astronomy radio show on Astronomy.FM, “Comet Watch,” has just recorded and posted a lengthy program about comets, featuring interviews and discussions with several prominent comet scientists and enthusiasts. The episode is hosted by English enthusiasts Nick Evetts and Neil Norman and features Alan Hale — celebrated codiscoverer of the famous Comet Hale-Bopp; Jim Scotti — comet scientist at the University of Arizona and comet discoverer; and David Eicher ...
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Headed to Iceland/Faroes for total eclipse

Posted 16 days ago by David Eicher
Later today, I'll be heading down to Chicago to partner with Celestron at the National Science Teachers Association national meeting.Saturday morning, I'll be flying to Iceland along with our travel partner, MWT Associates, for an Astronomy readers’ tour of the marvelous geological features. On March 20, we'll be in the Faroe Islands, between Iceland and Scotland, for this year's big total solar eclipse.See you on the other side!Follow David J. Eicher on Twitter: www.twitter.com/deichersta...
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Astronomy leads education for Asteroid Day

Posted 17 days ago by David Eicher
I’m delighted to say that Astronomy magazine will be taking on a leading role in promoting the educational component of the Asteroid Day movement. Asteroid Day is an international effort to raise awareness of the potential threat to Earth from asteroids. The organization was founded by London-based filmmaker Grigorij Richters and astrophysicist and Queen founding guitarist Brian May, and it will raise awareness for research with special events June 30, 2015. This will mark the 107th annive...
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Celestron and Astronomy partnering in Chicago

Posted 17 days ago by David Eicher
I’m delighted to say that Celestron, the Los Angeles manufacturer of high-quality telescopes, will partner with Astronomy magazine at the upcoming 2015 National Conference of the National Science Teachers Association in Chicago. The event will take place at McCormick Place on March 12–15. On March 12, I’ll be hosting a workshop, “Digital Microscopes 101,” in which teachers will share their real-world experiences using Celestron digital microscopes in ...
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New Superstars of Astronomy features Alan Stern, Pluto

Posted 17 days ago by David Eicher
The third Superstars of Astronomy podcast, an hourlong interview, is now posted on Astronomy’s website. It‘s a detailed discussion with an old friend, Alan Stern, the world’s leading expert on Pluto. Alan is principal investigator of the New Horizons mission that is speeding toward its July encounter with Pluto. This will be an extremely exciting time as we will soon have our first close-up view of Pluto and its five moons. We talk a great deal about the controversy of whe...
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Dave Eicher to speak at New York/New Jersey Mineral Show

Posted 23 days ago by David Eicher
A week before NEAF and NEAIC light up the New York astronomy world, I will have the privilege of speaking at the New York/New Jersey Mineral Show, to be held in Edison, New Jersey, just outside New York City. I’ll be there from April 10 through the 12th and will be delivering a talk on “Minerals on Earth and Beyond,” with some attention to rocks and minerals on the Moon and on Mars. I look forward to seeing many astronomy enthusiasts who are also rockhounds at this great s...
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Astronomy Foundation to hold their annual meeting at NEAF

Posted 23 days ago by David Eicher
The Astronomy Foundation, the telescope industry’s first and only trade association, will hold its annual meeting during this year’s Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) in Suffern, New York. The foundation meeting is scheduled for Saturday evening, April 18, 2015, and will push a number of initiatives forward. Founded several years ago by then-Celestron CEO Joe Lupica and several others, the foundation aims to promote awareness of and involvement in the astronomy hobby. This year the gr...
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Astronomy magazine to again sponsor NEAF

Posted 23 days ago by David Eicher
Once again this year, Astronomy magazine will serve as a proud sponsor of the Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF), the largest telescope show in the United States. The event, which features dozens of telescope manufacturers, talks by professional and amateur astronomers, solar observing, lots of activities for kids, “getting started” beginners classes in astronomy, door prizes, and much more will take place April 18 and 19, 2015, in Suffern, New York. NEAF’s host facility is ...
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Join Astronomy for totality in the Faroe Islands!

Posted 25 days ago by David Eicher
How time flies. Next month, it will be my privilege to join a group of Astronomy readers to see a total eclipse from the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic. Our group will be led by Melita, Daniel, and Julie Thorpe of MWT Associates and will trek to Iceland, enjoying the geological wonders there, before seeing the eclipse itself March 20. The trip lasts from March 14 to the 23rd and will no doubt be a delight. Totality will last about 2-1/2 minutes.I’ll be sharing highlights from my adven...
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Is this the way life began?

Posted 25 days ago by David Eicher
Here’s an unusual mineral specimen: Scientists believe it is likely life originated some 4.3+ billion years ago at hydrothermal vents, so-called black smokers. This is pyrite from a black smoker, 5.3 cm, Meso Zone, 69°24' E, 22°39' S, from a depth of 3,300 m (~10,800 ft), Rodriguez Triple Junction, Central Indian Ridge, Indian Ocean. Pyrite is iron sulfide, and it might be that some of the earliest life were primitive sulfur-eating bacteria.Follow David J. Eicher on Twitter: www.tw...
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Astronomy game show on WGN tomorrow!

Posted 29 days ago by David Eicher
Tomorrow morning, at about 9:40 CT, I’ll be appearing along with anchor Larry Potash on WGN-TV in Chicago. We will be discussing some cool facts from the March issue of Astronomy, which features “500 coolest things about space.” In fact, we will have several contestants and briefly conduct a “game show” in which the people who provide the right answers will garner prizes. You can stream WGN live at http://wgntv.com/on-air/live-streaming.It should be good f...
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Astronomy and Celestron Partner at NSTA National Conference on Science Education

Posted 29 days ago by David Eicher
I’m delighted to say that Celestron, the Los Angeles manufacturer of high-quality telescopes, will partner with Astronomy magazine at the upcoming 2015 National Conference of the National Science Teachers Association in Chicago. The event will take place at McCormick Place on March 12–15. On March 12, I’ll be hosting a workshop, “Digital Microscopes 101,” in which teachers will share their real-world experiences using Celestron digital microscopes in grades 4&n...
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Astronomy coming to Chicago TV this weekend

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
The details aren’t exactly set yet, but if you are in the Chicago market, you may see Astronomy magazine and me on TV Friday and Saturday. A couple of appearances are pending to discuss the very popular March issue, our 500th one, which contains that great collection of 500 coolest facts about the cosmos, on newsstands now. See you in Chicago! Follow David J. Eicher on Twitter: www.twitter.com/deicherstar...
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Astronomy's third annual Public Star Party!

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
A whirlwind of activity on my return from Tucson to Milwaukee has prevented me from staying up to date on blogs. But here goes:Astronomy magazine held its third annual Public Star Party in Tucson on Saturday, February 14, at the East Campus of Pima Community College, southeast of the center of the city. Senior Editor Michael Bakich did a great job as always coordinating the speakers and other activities of the star party, and we had several hundred people show up throughout the day. Members of t...
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Check out "A Quest for Shiny Purple Crystals"

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
What do rocks and minerals have to do with astronomy? I sometimes get that question from people who wonder why I collect and study mineral specimens. Well, in short, the universe assembles matter in an orderly way and builds solid planets by making minerals. Mineralogy is planetary science, and studying the minerals on Earth gives us a look at our own planet and also the possibilities of how countless other worlds in the universe are made.  I have a friend who is a geologist and artist in O...
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Stephen Hawking gets a Celestron!

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
Our great friend Stephen Hawking got a visit from two Celestron employees recently who installed an 11-inch Celestron SCT for his use. Yesterday Stephen posted photos he made with the telescope, and Bryan Cogdell of Celestron has been quite excited after visiting the professor and installing the telescope. In Bryan’s words, “It’s a decked-out CPC Deluxe 1100 HD — I wanted something that could do it all, enough resolving power and focal length to reel in the planets, ...
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Superstars of Astronomy: Garik Israelian

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
The second Superstars of Astronomy podcast, an hourlong interview, is now posted on Astronomy’s website. It is a lively discussion with Garik Israelian, founder and director of the Starmus Festival. If you are not familiar with the Starmus Festival, you should be. It is a world-class gathering of astronomy and science enthusiasts, astronomers, astronaut-explorers, cosmologists, musicians, and artists who are celebrating and spreading our knowledge of the cosmos. The second Starmus Festival...
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A visit to Meteorite Man Geoff Notkin's secret lair

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
A couple days into the annual Tucson Gem Show, the mecca for meteorite collectors, I ran into my good friend Geoff Notkin. “What are you doing now?” he said. “Wandering around and photographing everything,” I said. “You have to come over and see my new meteorite headquarters,” said Geoff. And so off we went, a short distance away from the mineralogical district of the city, to see Geoff’s new Aerolite Meteorites house, which houses his meteorite dea...
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Meteorites at the Tucson Gem Show: The Aerolite Meteorites room

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
As someone who is interested in rocks from space, one of the great pleasures of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is to visit the Aerolite Meteorites room at the Hotel Tucson City Center (formerly the InnSuites). Each year, Geoff Notkin has a wide range of really interesting and incredible specimens, from rare historic pieces to entry-level common stones to exotic pieces from the Moon and Mars. You probably know of Geoff as one half of the Meteorite Men, along with his partner Steve Arnold, from t...
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Meteorites at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show

Posted one month ago by David Eicher
The biggest event of the year for meteorite collectors and enthusiasts has been raging through Tucson, Arizona, for a number of days now. Astronomy magazine is proud to have a presence in Tucson during this big week with our public star party that will be held at Pima Community College, East Campus, this Saturday, February 14. See this link for more.But we are also here to put together some big materials on the observatories in this U.S. capital of astronomy and also to cover meteorites at the...

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