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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A visit to the U.S. Naval Observatory, Flagstaff Station

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
February continues to be beautiful in Arizona. Astronomy Senior Editor Michael Bakich and I continued our tour of important astronomical institutions by swinging by the U.S. Naval Observatory in Flagstaff. There, astronomer Bob Zavala graciously played host to show us around the entire facility, beginning with the terrific 1.3-meter telescope, a workhorse on many astronomical projects. We then saw the largest and most famous instrument on the campus, the 61-inch Strand astrometric reflector, whi...
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A visit to the U.S. Geological Survey's Astrogeology branch in Flagstaff

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
Winter in Flagstaff, Arizona, has been incredibly nice, with temperatures in the 60s (F). What a time it has been coming from frozen Milwaukee to be in a summerlike afternoon with the Sun shining brightly and the mountains and pine forest spreading over the landscape!Following our visit to Lowell Observatory on Monday, Senior Editor Michael Bakich and I traveled to another erstwhile institution in Flagsaff — the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and its Astrogeology branch. There, we met ...
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Meteorite expert Dorothy Norton in Tucson

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
Wandering the meteorite dealers at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, I was fortunate to be hanging around in Anne Black’s room, Impactika Meteorites, when in walked a legend in the meteorite world. Dorothy Norton, herself a celebrated author on meteorites, is also the widow of O. Richard Norton, the famous meteorite researcher and author who died in 2009. For more on Richard, see this link.It was wonderful to meet Dorothy after all these years. She, Senior Editor Michael Bakich, and I had a...
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Washington Post on Astronomy's 500th Coolest Things

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
Yesterday, the Washington Post ran a nice story by Nancy Szokan, “Everything You Wanted to Know about the Stars — and More, from Astronomy magazine,” with some interesting facts from our March issue. This was, as you may know, the 500th issue of the magazine, and we offered up a special package of 500 coolest facts about the universe.You can read the Washington Post story here, and be sure to check out the March issue, on newsstands now....
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Visiting historic Lowell Observatory

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
What a day! On Monday, February 9, Astronomy Senior Editor Michael Bakich and I started incredibly early and headed north from Tucson to Flagstaff, Arizona, another key town in the history of astronomy. We conducted a whirlwind tour of several astronomical institutions, beginning with one of my favorite observatories on the planet. Lowell Observatory on Mars Hill in Flagstaff holds a unique position in the history of astronomy. Here, the wealthy Boston astronomy enthusiast Percival Lowell founde...
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Heading to Tucson for star party, observatories, meteorites, and minerals

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
Tomorrow I’ll be delighted to be heading west to Tucson for the annual foray into astronomy’s capital in the United States. On Saturday, February 14, Astronomy will be hosting a big public star party, featuring me and Senior Editor Michael Bakich, at the East Campus of Pima Community College. You can read more about the star party here.Michael and I also will be visiting observatories and institutions in Flagstaff — Lowell Observatory, the U.S. Naval Observatory, and the U...
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New Michael Bakich, Mike Reynolds astronomy lab manual

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
Here’s a heads-up on the publishing front: The first copies are just out of Astronomy Senior Editor Michael Bakich’s new astronomy lab manual. If you are teaching a course, in school, or are simply interested in astronomy, this is a dynamic new book you should know about. Written by Bakich and Astronomy Contributing Editor Mike Reynolds, the book is Exploring the Universe: A Laboratory Guide for Astronomy (452 pp., paper, Morton Publishing Co., Englewood, Colo., 2015; $79.95, ISBN 97...
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Astronomy's 500th issue on Fox TV Chicago Thursday

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
Heads-up for Chicagoland readers: I’ll be appearing on WFLD, Fox TV Chicago, tomorrow at 12:45 p.m. CT, talking about Astronomy magazine’s 500th anniversary issue. We’ll discuss some of those great 500 amazing facts and a little about what’s going on in astronomy and cosmology these days. See you on Thursday! Follow David J. Eicher on Twitter: www.twitter.com/deicherstar...
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Watch Astronomy's 500th issue on The Morning Blend

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
Two TV tapings done, one in Chicago on Thursday to go. Today, I had a blast with Tiffany Ogle and Molly Fay on The Morning Blend, at TMJ4 , NBC TV in Milwaukee. You can watch the interview here. I also did a longer interview for Fox News Edge that will be seen on many Fox TV affiliates throughout the United States. What fun! Follow David J. Eicher on Twitter: www.twitter.com/deicherstar...
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TV appearances set for 500th issue of Astronomy

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
After a whirlwind Los Angeles trip to visit telescope manufacturers Celestron and Meade last week, this week has turned crazy because of TV appearances to discuss the already very popular 500th issue of the magazine. Our March 2015 edition, packed with “500 coolest things about space,” is really pleasing readers, grabbing the attention of youngsters, and creating a bit of a splash. I will be delighted to be discussing it on several TV shows this week:• Tues., Feb. 3: WISN T...
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Jeff Hester to write monthly science column in "Astronomy" magazine

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
Beginning with the June issue of Astronomy, on newsstands in early May, readers will get their first taste of a real treat. World-renowned astrophysicist Jeff Hester will commence a monthly column that will explore a wide range of topics in astronomy and allied sciences. The first installment of “For Your Consideration” will celebrate what a special time we enjoy in terms of understanding the universe, and the topics to come will surprise you!For those of you who don’t know Jef...
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Big plans with Celestron!

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
Well, I can tell you that Astronomy’s new advertising manager, Jamie Rinehart, and I have had a marvelous brief trip to Los Angeles. On Tuesday we flew from Milwaukee to Denver, then Denver to Denver, and then Denver to LAX. Yes, you read that right: our Denver to LA flight was diverted after an hour in the air due to what the crew called “inappropriate baggage,” so we turned around and landed in Denver again. After 20 minutes on the ground, we took off from Denver for a second...
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Hanging out at Meade Instruments

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
This week, Astronomy’s new advertising manager, Jamie Rinehart, and I are on a West Coast swing, visiting two of our advertising partners. On Tuesday, we had a wonderful time hanging out with the folks at Meade Instruments, the large telescope manufacturer based in Irvine, California, near Los Angeles. We spent a good part of the afternoon talking things over with Vice President of Sales Victor Aniceto and Meade’s new marketing manager, Thania Guardino, and have some exciting project...
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Superstars of Astronomy interviews begin with Jeff Hester

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
Yes, I have been extremely quiet on the blog front lately, with many special projects frantically moving forward. The Astronomy team has several special issues of the magazine coming up; we have a revamped video series you will see soon; we are about to unveil a new series of fancy, illustrated online stories; lots of work is going on with the Asteroid Day movement; and much more. One announcement for today: Superstars of Astronomy, a new audio podcast interview series with the world’s lea...
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Plans set for Tucson Star Party

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
In early February, Senior Editor Michael Bakich and I will be traveling to Arizona for a big trip that will be centered on our annual public star party in Tucson. We’ll also be trekking northward to Flagstaff to visit significant institutions: Lowell Observatory, the U.S. Naval Observatory, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Some fun things will come out of that trip. We will also be covering the meteorite-related activities at the annual Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, which is held each Februa...
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Virtual Telescope Project targets Comet Lovejoy

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
Our good friend Gianluca Masi of Rome operates the wonderful Virtual Telescope Project 2.0, through which you can observe various astronomical objects remotely on your computer. Take note that tomorrow, Gianluca will present “A Comet for Christmas: Observation of Comet Lovejoy” online at 19h UT, which is 2 p.m. EST.He will also host a Comet Lovejoy observing session on January 11. I encourage you to check it out.Follow David J. Eicher on Twitter: www.twitter.com/deicherstar...
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Superstars of Astronomy: new audio podcast series

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
“Superstars of Astronomy” is a new series of in-depth audio podcast interviews brought to you by Astronomy magazine and with the generous support of Celestron. With me serving as your host, the monthly series will feature hourlong interviews with some of the world’s foremost astronomers, astrophysicists, planetary scientists, and cosmologists, taking you into the worlds of their research in a new and unique way. By listening to “Superstars of Astronomy,” you’l...
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Korey Haynes joins Astronomy magazine staff

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
Please help me welcome our newest associate editor, Korey Haynes. Korey comes to Astronomy magazine fresh from a Ph.D. program at George Mason University in Virginia, where she studied astronomy. She spent most of her time in grad school at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, studying exoplanet atmospheres and looking for water on alien worlds. In addition to research, she was a writer for Astrobites, a blog that posts daily summaries of astronomy journal articles, and she also enjoyed vol...
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Science Book a Day interviews David Eicher

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
Last week, I had the opportunity to do an interview with the Australian website Science Book a Day (sciencebookaday.com). We discussed the Starmus Festival, the Starmus book — Starmus: 50 Years of Man in Space — and my other upcoming book projects. You can read the interview on their website. Follow David J. Eicher on Twitter: www.twitter.com/deicherstar...
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Amazing Comet Lovejoy photo from Damian Peach

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
The incredible astroimager Damian Peach, frequent contributor to Astronomy magazine, has done it again. Here is Damian’s just-taken image of Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2), which is poised to be a nice binocular object in the southern sky as it climbs northward during the last days of December. Damian imaged the comet, now at around 7th magnitude, on December 16, 2014, using a 20-inch CDK with a FLI CCD camera and an LRGB composite exposure. The comet will climb northward through Eridanus, Taur...
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Book excerpt: Do stars knock comets from the Oort Cloud?

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
The following excerpt comes from my book Comets! Visitors from Deep Space, published last year by Cambridge University Press. Astronomers believe that in the solar system’s past, stars have sometimes passed through the Oort Cloud. They propose that when this happened, a star would in effect tunnel its way through the cloud. A star of the Sun’s mass, moving at 20 km per second, would excavate a tube about 150 billion km wide (a distance 20 times greater than that between the Sun and P...
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Front Page Science launches important 2017 eclipse site

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
The biggest observational event in astronomy, in the Americas, is approaching. On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will sweep from northwest to southeast across the entire United States and promises to be the most observed eclipse in history. Astronomy magazine Senior Editor Michael Bakich has established a major event for eclipse viewers along the center line, in St. Joseph, Missouri, a perfectly placed spot that offers 2 minutes, 39 seconds of totality and the convenience of civilization...
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Asteroid Day announced in London and San Francisco

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
You may have heard yesterday, amid the bustle of news about the approaching test of the Orion launch vehicle, of the other major astronomical news event of the day. At separate, simultaneous events in London and San Francisco, a distinguished group of scientists announced Asteroid Day, which will take place June 30, 2015. This important event, and movement, is being run by AsteroidDay.org, an organization founded by London-based filmmaker Grig Richters and supported by a who’s-who of plane...
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Rob Pickman's "Not-So-Dark-Sky Observing Guide"

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
We’re all familiar with those night-sky observing dreams of a huge telescope under a pitch black, moonless sky. But what about those of us who are limited to a city sky or under moderate suburban light pollution? A Florida observer, Rob Pickman, has published a guide for all of us who do not have a perfect sky. The Not-So-Dark-Sky Observing Guide features practical advice and numerous renderings of eyepiece views of interesting stars and bright deep-sky objects, largely clusters, visible f...
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The absolute necessity of the 2015 Observer's Handbook

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
I’ve been an observer of the sky for about 38 years now, since I was 15 years old. Looking back on those days, compared with today, is astonishing. I used a 7x50 finder scope on my 17.5-inch Dobsonian reflector, and I knew the whole sky, in terms of star-hopping to deep-sky objects. Now computerized databases guide us with telescopes that know where to point. We used to think objects like the Veil Nebula were challenging; now we routinely gaze at distant galaxy clusters and quasars. So muc...
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A great new astrophoto book

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
Many of you who read Astronomy magazine know the name Rogelio Bernal Andreo quite well. A frequent astrophotography contributor to the magazine, Rogelio is an accomplished deep-sky shooter, and I had the great joy of spending time with him at the Starmus Astrophoto School on La Palma this past September. Now, Rogelo has created a beautiful new book from his astroimaging, Hawai’i Nights. This magnificent visual treasure presents the results of 27 nights Rogelio spent skyshooting in Hawaii, ...
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Astronauts, scientists, Nobel laureates, technologists, and artists to announce Asteroid Awareness Day

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
Leading experts in astronomy, cosmology, physics, and entertainment will hold a simultaneous press conference in London and San Francisco on December 3 to announce Asteroid Day — a global day of awareness to educate the world about asteroids: what they are, how frequently they impact Earth, and how we can protect our planet and humanity from potential disasters. Asteroid Day will be held June 30, 2015, with events around the world hosted by individuals and organizations, at schools, m...
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Did comets bring water to Earth?

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
A book excerpt from COMETS! Visitors from Deep Space, by David J. Eicher (Cambridge University Press, New York, 2013) . . . A years-long affair with the idea of comets delivering a huge amount of water to Earth seemed built of pure, simple logic. Made largely of water ice, and existing perhaps in the trillions, they were the leading suspects. They also presumably retained their isotopic properties from the earliest days of the solar system. But recent measurements of the deuterium to hydrogen ra...
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"The Theory of Everything" now in theaters

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
Several weeks ago, I had the chance to see The Theory of Everything, the new film about Stephen Hawking and Jane Hawking, at a screening. The film is now out in select theaters, and I heartily encourage you to go see it. It is a really enjoyable film. Of Eddie Redmayne’s performance as Stephen, Hawking himself last week said, “At times I thought he was me!”The film follows Stephen’s life from his days as a Ph.D. student to being honored by the Queen in 1989. It will be an...
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Book excerpt: COMETS! By David J. Eicher

Posted 3 years ago by David Eicher
Here’s a little about comets from my recent Cambridge University Press book: Come to think of it, that’s one of the things that struck me as a teenager, lying out in that field, gazing up at Comet West. Suddenly, after I learned a little about what comets are, it hit me. They hammer home the immensity of the cosmos. Yes, they are relatively nearby. But seeing them move from night to night — changing their place against the backdrop of the stars glistening behind them — is...

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