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.
2

Killer image of supernova remnant Simeis 147

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
California astroimager Rogelio Bernal Andreo has scored again with a stunning image of Simeis 147, the famous and legendarily faint supernova remnant in Taurus. Also known as Sharpless 2–240, this cloud is composed of expanding gas belched from a dying star that exploded about 40,000 years ago. The nebula is so faint that it’s a challenge to photograph, let alone observe visually. The nebula covers about 3° of sky, making individual parts of it extraordinarily faint. Th...
0

The Heart Nebula on Valentine’s Day

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
Check out this fantastic image from legendary astrophotographer Jack Newton. It shows a well-known region in Cassiopeia that contains two large, faint emission nebulae, IC 1848 (left) and IC 1805. These objects are enormous factories whose gas is coalescing into new stars, producing clusters you can see within the nebulosity. At right, IC 1805 is often called the Heart Nebula (if you tilt your head to the left you’ll see the nebula’s looping “heart” shape). Just to m...
1

Check out David Fuller’s “Eyes on the Sky”

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
David Fuller, a member of the Kankakee Area StarGazers in Illinois, has been producing some pretty great content about observing the sky from urban and suburban locations for several years now. His main purpose is to draw attention to light pollution and to inspire those who have never seen the sky to look toward the heavens. An astronomy enthusiast for more than 30 years, David has written many local newspaper articles about astronomy and for the past couple years has turned his attention to pr...
6

Planning Australia for this year’s big total eclipse?

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
OK, a few days ago I told you about Astronomy magazine’s planned trip to see the June transit of Venus in Hawaii. Now I’m going to suggest you also go to Australia to see the big eclipse event of the year, the total solar eclipse on November 14. This will be a nice one, lasting just over four minutes if you’re out at sea in the middle of nowhere, but about 2 minutes near the most populous city in the path, Cairns, Queensland, in northeastern Australia. Once again, Astronomy ma...
1

Rob Walrecht’s planned super cool superplanisphere

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
Even in this electronic age, and even if you observe with a computer screen beside your telescope, you really need at least one old-school device — a planisphere. Sometimes called “star wheels,” these devices allow you to dial in your date and time and see the sky represented for the particular latitude you’re observing from. Many fine planispheres have existed for decades — now Rob Walrecht, the Dutch cartographer and creator of fine star maps, is cr...
4

Let’s get ourselves a New Horizons-Pluto stamp!

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
You may have heard over the past few days of an effort to recognize the New Horizons mission now en route to Pluto and due to arrive in 2015. Yesterday, Alan Stern, the mission’s project scientist, called me and asked Astronomy magazine to step on board as a partner in the effort. Now, many of you know the folks here at Astronomy are Pluto backers. I was a friend of Clyde Tombaugh and considered it a great honor to have known and observed with him quite a few times before his death in 1997...
0

Astronomy Foundation to hold annual meeting at NEAF

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
Astronomy magazine is once again co-sponsoring the Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) this year in Suffern, New York, which takes place April 27 and 28. This 21st annual event is the biggest telescope show and gathering in the United States, with several thousand people attending to see more than 140 telescope vendors and their wares and hear numerous astronomers speak on many topics. It is always an exciting event, and this year there will be some special treats awaiting attendees. Moreover, for...
0

Come to Hawaii for the transit of Venus!

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
The last transit of Venus in our lifetimes will take place Tuesday, June 5, 2012. You can see a portion of this rare and storied event, in which the disk of Venus crosses the face of the Sun, from North America. But Hawaii is one of the closest places where you can see the whole transit — and it’s a pretty nice place to be. I’ll have the privilege of accompanying readers of the magazine on a trip to Hawaii to see the transit this June. In conjunction with Melita Thorpe of...
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Sheldon Reynolds’ Images of Life

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
Many of you know our Contributing Editor Sheldon Reynolds, for years singer and guitarist with Earth, Wind, & Fire, as well as an enthusiastic astronomy promoter. Check out his latest film, Images of Life, with reflections on the universe. You’ll love it! ...
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IBEX illuminates a dark corner of our neighborhood

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
Yesterday, scientists at a NASA press conference described the first findings from IBEX, the Interstellar Boundary Explorer satellite, which was launched in 2008 and is the first craft to study the region between our solar system and interstellar space. Astronomers don’t know much about the edge of our solar system and how it interacts with our neighborhood in the galaxy beyond. By contrast, we know a great deal about various objects far away in the Milky Way (and in other galaxies), but t...
1

How life on Earth made minerals

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
For centuries, scientists believed that animals and minerals lived in two separate worlds. Then, four years ago, a groundbreaking study led to a dynamic realization: Life on Earth radically altered the way minerals formed on our planet. Last year, a major research journal devoted an entire issue to analyzing the idea, and now the science of studying minerals and understanding Earth as a planet has been radically shaken up. The evidence shows that microbes on Earth exploded the number of mineral...
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Help reduce Chicago light pollution!

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
Audrey Fischer is on a mission. This tireless promoter of dark skies has an important milestone coming in her fight to reduce light pollution in Chicago, Illinois — and you can help in a big way. Audrey is a friend of the magazine, one of the organizers of the 2012 Astronomical League meeting upcoming in Chicago (ALCon 2012; see http://alcon2012.astroleague.org/), and a friend of every amateur astronomer. With her program “One Star at a Time,” she is making thousands ...
1

Heads up for NEAF, coming in April!

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
Astronomy magazine is proud to be sponsoring three big events in the astronomy world in the coming months. First, we will co-sponsor the Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) in Suffern, New York, April 28–29, hosted by the Rockland Astronomy Club at Rockland Community College. The world’s largest telescope show will feature more than 140 vendors — manufacturers and dealers — with countless telescopes, binoculars, and accessories on hand. This show reflects the incr...
3

Amazing new picture of where you live

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
In the old days at Astronomy, we used to have a saying whenever someone separated Earth science from astronomy— “Earth is a planet, too.” NASA has just released what may be the greatest image yet of our planet, a multicolor photo of Earth showing North and South America and swirls of clouds hovering about. This “blue marble” image of the planet was made with the VIIRS instrument aboard NASA’s most recent Earth-observing satellite, Suomi NPP. Th...
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Astronomy magazine co-sponsors ALCon 2012 in Chicago

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
Astronomy magazine is proud to be sponsoring three big events in the astronomy world in the coming months — I’ll tell you about each of them soon. First, let me mention a major astronomical meeting — ALCon 2012, the annual convention of the Astronomical League. This meeting will take place July 4–7 in Chicago, Illinois, and will feature speakers including Dave Crawford of the International Dark Sky Association, stellar astroimager Don Parker, Astronomers Without Borders P...
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Amateur astronomy loses a great pioneering salesman

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
Yesterday, news broke about the death of a great figure in the telescope world, Norman Edmund, who died in South Florida last week at the age of 95. The founder of Edmund Scientific Co. in Barrington, New Jersey, Edmund created a huge opportunity for telescope makers and astronomy enthusiasts to buy materials with which to make scopes on the cheap from the post-WWII surplus market. He later made his company into a powerhouse that continues as one of the major forces in selling telescopes and acc...
1

Fantastic Mars imaging from Don Parker

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
For years and years, Don Parker of Coral Gables, Florida, a retired anesthesiologist, has led the world in color planetary imaging by amateur astronomers. His portraits of planets in the solar system are just a cut above everything else that gets produced, and he’s been a contributor to Astronomy for decades. Don regularly images several planets, with Mars being one of his favorites. His images of the Red Planet from January 12 are simply amazing; check out the composite and the three ind...
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John Sanford, 1939–2011

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
We at Astronomy magazine just learned about the death of a wonderful man and important astronomy enthusiast who helped change amateur astronomy for the better, especially in the 1970s and ’80s. John Sanford died December 11, 2011, after a long illness in his beloved Southern California, at the age of 72. Longtime Astronomy readers may know that John contributed a column on photography in astronomy starting with his story “Optics for Astrophotography” in the very first iss...
2

Fly me to the Moon!

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
Talented astrophotographer John Chumack has done it again by capturing two aircraft crossing in front of the waxing gibbous Moon, as shot on January 6, 2012, at 5:47 p.m. EST from his backyard in Dayton, Ohio. John used a Canon Rebel Xsi DSLR, a 300mm lens at f/8, and exposed at ISO 400.A great shot, John!...
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Guest Blog: Dean Regas on The New Star Gazers

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
Dean Regas, a longtime friend and contributor to Astronomy, is now one of the hosts of the new Star Gazers, the PBS show that brings you great sky observing info and is the successor to Jack Horkheimer’s Star Gazer. Here is a great story Regas forwarded about the new show! The new Star Gazers: A new twist on an old favorite show “Hey there Star Gazers!” This is the phrase James Albury and I use when we welcome you to the new Star Gazers astronomy program. Available on most PB...
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Guest Blog: Becky’s Bucket List

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
Becky Ramotowski is an enthusiastic amateur astronomer who lives in New Mexico, is the author of Secrets of Stargazing, and writes a stargazing blog at astrobeck.com. Check it out! She recently sent me a piece that summarizes some really interesting things coming up this year for amateur astronomers, and I’m delighted to share it with you here. Thanks, Becky! Becky’s Astronomy Bucket List for 2012At the beginning of each year, I make an astronomical “bucket list” of thing...
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Patsy Tombaugh dies at age 99

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
A wonderful woman who was a treasure to the astronomy community died on Thursday — Patricia Tombaugh, wife of Clyde Tombaugh, Pluto’s discoverer. Many who knew her in the astronomy world were hoping she would live to see the New Horizons spacecraft reach Pluto in 2015, but that would just not be the case. Patsy had a great sense of humor and was known for her energy and enthusiasm in talking about astronomy and Pluto and in supporting her husband’s career for many years. Clyde ...
0

Brian May Queen “One Vision” Contest winners announced

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
Congratulations to Marvin Long of Austin, Texas, and Philip Knight of Wolverhampton, England, for winning the “One Vision” Contest! Marvin and Philip each will receive a set of Brian May’s London Stereoscopic Company’s astronomical stereo cards along with an OWL viewer, signed by Brian! The magazine received an enormous response from the article I wrote in the January issue, “Brian May’s world of stereo astro pictures,” and the accompanying co...
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Beautiful waxing crescent Moon closes out year

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
Ohio astroimager John Chumack captured a delicate waxing crescent Moon from his observatory in Dayton, Ohio, on Thursday, December 29, 2011. He used a 10-inch Meade SCT, an f/6.3 focal reducer, a Canon Rebel Xsi camera set at ISO 400, and a 1/60-second exposure. What a pretty way to ring in the new year and remember the last days of the old year! Happy New Year!...
0

Stunning image of the Orion Nebula’s core

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
Ohio astroimager John Chumack has done it again — he leaves us with a New Year’s image of the Orion Nebula (M42) that has been carefully processed to show amazing detail in the core. John shot this through his 10-inch scope in Dayton, Ohio, and combined this data with imagery from his 16-inch scope in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The images were combined and layered in Photoshop. The camera used was a modified Canon Rebel Xsi (Baader filter) at ISO 400, with dark frames subtracted. The tot...
1

Killer Sun image shows prominences, filaments, sunspots!

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
As a reader of this blog, you’ve seen many cool images shot by astroimager John Chumack. Here is yet another — a fabulous Sun image John captured December 11, 2011, showing a full range of solar activity, prominences, filaments, plage, and sunspots all in one picture! John used a Lunt Solar LS60 scope with an LS50 Hydrogen-alpha filter, a DMK 31AF04 Firewire CCD camera, an exposure of 1/483-second for surface details, 1/30-second exposures for prominences, and stacked 4,616 frames fo...
0

Brandon Doyle sketches starburst galaxy M82

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
Sixteen-year-old Brandon Doyle of Albion, New York, loves sketching deep-sky objects at the telescope. Brandon’s latest drawing, made with his 10-inch Dobsonian at 200x, shows the famous galaxy M82 in Ursa Major. M82, sometimes called the Cigar Galaxy, is a starburst galaxy with a central black hole and oodles of star formation occurring along the galaxy’s hub, which is oriented edge-on to our line of sight. Enjoy!...
0

Spectacular International Space Station view of Comet Lovejoy

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
As many of you know, Comet 2011/W3 (Lovejoy), a sungrazer that miraculously survived its encounter with the Sun’s corona December 15, is putting on a nice show in the Southern Hemisphere. The comet is showing a long tail that stretches 10° and glows at magnitude 4, having peaked as it rose above the horizon in the south at magnitude –1. Southern Hemisphere observers have had some brief, incredible views of the comet, and International Space Station Commander Dan Burbank phot...
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Final warning on Brian May’s Queen “One Vision” Contest!

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
The contest we have been running along with the story on Brian May’s astronomical stereo photos in the January 2012 issue is almost over! Read the story and check out the Queen song “39” by Brian in order to enter our contest, which ends December 31! You may win a set of stereo astro cards and a stereo viewer autographed by Brian!Be sure to check out Brian’s London Stereoscopic Company website (www.londonstereo.com) for info on how to order these cards and for information...
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Cool shot of Orion by Sheldon Reynolds

Posted 6 years ago by David Eicher
Lots of Astronomy readers know about one of our great friends and contributors, Sheldon Reynolds, who is a legendary guitarist and former member of Earth, Wind, & Fire and The Commodores. Sheldon loves astronomy — he recently sponsored a contest in which he gave away several signed copies of his very cool CD, Feel Good, and he wrote an accompanying essay on the Moon, “The wonder of our nearest neighbor.” For more on the contest, see www.Astronomy.com/FeelGood. Sh...

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