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David J. Eicher
David J. Eicher is Editor-in-Chief of Astronomy magazine and author of the forthcoming Cambridge University Press book Comets: Visitors From Deep Space (fall 2013).

Entries by David J. Eicher

Beyond a Comet, Pluto Looms

(5) Comments | Posted November 18, 2014 | 6:43 PM

Last week we all marveled at the historic first landing on the surface of a comet as Philae, dispatched from the Rosetta spacecraft, began science operations on a slowly warming comet (before going into indefinite hibernation for lack of sunlight).

Now further excitement awaits for Solar System research: The New...

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The Ten Commandments of Science

(19) Comments | Posted September 5, 2014 | 12:24 AM

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...

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14 Things You Didn't Know About How the Sun Will Die

(12) Comments | Posted August 21, 2014 | 11:57 PM

At some 4.6 billion years old, the Sun is about halfway through its life. In another 5 billion years it will be a normal "adult" star no more. Here's the skinny on the upcoming demise of the star that you owe everything to: light, warmth, energy, and life.


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Beam a Message to Mars!

(0) Comments | Posted August 19, 2014 | 4:46 PM

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 shout out" that will beam messages to Mars on November 28, and the project is called "Beam Me to Mars."

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Do You See the Universe Clearly?

(1) Comments | Posted July 28, 2014 | 9:53 PM

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.

Credit: Tony Hallas

Here are the ways...

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Calling for a Debate Over Pluto's Nature

(31) Comments | Posted July 23, 2014 | 2:18 AM

As the editor of Astronomy magazine, I am calling for an open and public debate over the planetary status of Pluto, which was notoriously changed in 2006 by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Editors of the magazine are volunteering to host such a public debate, and to involve readers of...

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Memories of Carl Sagan and Cosmos

(15) Comments | Posted March 31, 2014 | 8:57 PM

I've watched the new incarnation of Cosmos with a sharp eye, for several reasons. When I was young, I was one of those who knew Carl Sagan, and I was materially influenced in my career path by him. I am the editor-in-chief of Astronomy magazine. I'm involved in a weekly...

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The Creation Debate and the Meaning of Science

(3) Comments | Posted February 5, 2014 | 12:23 PM

As I write this, the world has just experienced a much-ballyhooed "great debate" at the Creation Museum in Kentucky between self-proclaimed expert Bill Nye the Science Guy and creationist Ken Ham, the museum's founder. In the end, nothing much came of it. Ham stood his ground, claiming that biblical stories...

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An Incredible Look at a Star Cluster

(1) Comments | Posted January 15, 2014 | 5:28 PM

You can see it with the naked eye on any winter's night. Floating high up in the sky, in the constellation Taurus, is a little dipper-shaped grouping of stars called the Pleiades or Seven Sisters, the 45th entry in Charles Messier's famous catalog of nebulous objects in the sky. Viewing...

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Now Is the Time to See Jupiter!

(1) Comments | Posted January 3, 2014 | 12:46 PM

The King of Planets starts off the New Year with a bang. Jupiter is at its best for the year during the first few days of January, shining brilliantly at a point in the sky astronomers call opposition -- opposite the Sun. This means it's at maximum brilliancy, reflecting the greatest...

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Catch a Great Meteor Shower This Weekend!

(2) Comments | Posted January 2, 2014 | 6:40 PM

The beginning of a new year brings a celestial spectacle this weekend that skywatchers should not miss. Over the next few days Earth will be passing through a stream of cosmic debris left in the wake of a near-Earth asteroid, 2003 EH1. Intersecting this trail of rocky particles means that...

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How to See Comet ISON This Week -- Nov. 25-Dec. 1, 2013

(9) Comments | Posted November 25, 2013 | 4:18 PM

The big week is finally here! Not necessarily the best week to view the comet -- that may be coming next week. But this is the week astronomers have been talking about for months as it is on Thursday that Comet ISON (C/2012 S1) will pass closest to the Sun,...

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How to See Comet ISON This Week -- Nov. 18-24

(13) Comments | Posted November 20, 2013 | 11:39 AM

By mid-November, the much-anticipated Comet ISON (C/2012 S1) really began to put on a show. Lagging slightly behind the predicted magnitudes, it experienced an outburst and brightened by a factor of 10 in one day. The comet is now a naked-eye object, visible in twilight in the early morning sky,...

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How to See Comet ISON This Week -- Nov. 11-17

(25) Comments | Posted November 11, 2013 | 12:22 PM

Comet ISON (C/2012 S1), the much-anticipated visitor from the distant depths of the solar system, continues to brighten and this week should reach naked-eye visibility as seen from a dark sky, away from city lights. The comet was discovered more than a year ago and has sparked big interest from...

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How to See Comet ISON This Week -- Nov. 4-10

(23) Comments | Posted November 4, 2013 | 2:57 PM

The time has come to step out under the stars and see the latest comet the outer solar system has thrown at us. Comet ISON (C/2012 S1), discovered more than a year ago, has engendered huge interest from those who think it may be terrifically bright and also from some...

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How to See Comet ISON This Week!

(4) Comments | Posted November 1, 2013 | 10:22 AM

The time has finally come to step out under the stars and see the latest comet the outer solar system has thrown at us. Comet ISON (C/2012 S1), discovered more than a year ago, has engendered huge interest from those who think it may be terrifically bright and also from...

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Comet ISON and the Meaning of Life

(10) Comments | Posted October 15, 2013 | 3:04 PM

The science world is turning its attention to the skies as a comet closes in that may be dramatically bright beginning next month. Comet ISON (C/2012 S1), discovered a year ago, will graze past the Sun at a distance of just 1.8 million kilometers on November 28 and already has...

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Comet ISON: The Real Story

(8) Comments | Posted August 29, 2013 | 4:31 PM

Ever since astronomers discovered Comet ISON a year ago, bloggers, science writers, and soothsayers have jumped on the bandwagon, proclaiming the comet will be "as bright as the Full Moon" or, more recently, a "complete and utter dud." Now, comets don't brighten significantly until they are relatively close to the Sun, and...

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Why UFOs Have Never Visited Earth -- and Probably Never Will

(1217) Comments | Posted August 6, 2013 | 6:15 PM

In this day and age we are awash in a sea of information overload -- much of it good and much more of it utter nonsense. It pervades TV, social media, and cellphones. Much of it panders to people's faint wishes rather than sticking to the facts, and nowhere is...

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Did Comets Deliver Earth's Oceans?

(12) Comments | Posted July 31, 2013 | 6:53 PM

As Comet ISON (C/2012 S1) slowly approaches, promising to give us a spectacular show this fall, it's tempting to think about the role comets may have played in our very existence.

For some years beginning in the 1990s it became trendy for scientists and lay people to jump on...

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