Some sad news in the astronomy world today….Known to millions across Canada and the US as PBS television’s Star Hustler, Jack Horkheimer has died at his Miami, Florida home Friday at the age of 72 after a lengthy illness. Always a flamboyant showman, Jack was a true inspiration for generations of backyard stargazers with his weekly late night 5 minute show about upcoming naked-eye astronomy highlights. Each and every one of his some 1,700 shows he would end with his signature sign-off, “Keep Looking Up!”
He was a one-of-a-kind, funny and passionate advocate of astronomy who just loved to spread the word about the hobby through his show and as director of the Miami planetarium.
I had the good fortune to interview him for the last time earlier this year for a story I was writing about observing our Moon and he was simply a joy to chat with. His deep love for the night sky and desire to communicate its many wonders was readily apparent to me and despite his respiratory illness he was battling, he never lost any of his eloquency and excitement for the universe.
Being an astronomy popularizer myself for nearly 20 years, I can say that Jack was a trailblazer and opened the cosmic door to the mass media and made astronomy cool to the public at large. I know he taught me a lot about public communication of science – how to convey astronomy jargon in simple and entertaining ways, and I think he set an example of how to be a passionate ambassador of the starry heavens. Thank you Jack!
You can see his final shows in the coming weeks on your local PBS station or online. The last episode with Jack will air the first week of September and talk about the Summer Triangle. Reading his online bio, Jack wrote a funny epitaph for himself which I think reflects well his quirky personality…“Keep Looking Up was my life’s admonition, I can do little else in my present position.”
Here is this week’s episode for your enjoyment…
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