“For I dipped into the Future,
far as human eye could see;
saw the vision of the world,
and all the wonder that would be.” –Alfred, Lord Tennyson

This weekend, the Sun is shining here in Portland, as we’ve gotten our first annual spell of warm, sunny days recently. It’s got me thinking of the approaching summer, and one of my favorite music festivals that’s coming up. One of the great groups I’m looking forward to is Keller and the Keels, who have an unparalleled penchant for amazing bluegrass mashups, such as their rendition of two very different songs by Beck/The Grateful Dead artistically sewn together, producing this six-minute masterpiece,


But it’s neither music nor sunshine that I’m most excited about today; it’s that I’ve got a new chance to share the wonders of the Universe with you!

Image credit: Brad Goldpaint of http://goldpaintphotography.com/.

Image credit: Brad Goldpaint of http://goldpaintphotography.com/.

All over the world, astronomy and the wonders of the night sky delight each and every one of us who dares look, and here on this blog, I’m always excited to share the little bit that I know and discover with you. But there are hundreds (if not thousands) of astronomy clubs across six continents and in all 50 U.S. States, and I’m about to get the opportunity to have a new, positive impact on each and every one of them!

Image credit: Rose City Astronomers.

Image credit: Rose City Astronomers.

Because nearly all of them — like my local Rose City Astronomers — put out a weekly newsletter. And for every astronomy club that wants it, whether they’re US-based or not, they can receive a column from NASA, once-a-month, written by a professional astrophysicist that’s of broad interest to a general audience. These columns are about anything ranging from heliophysics,

Image credit: the Hinode mission, JAXA / NASA / Lockheed Martin.

Image credit: the Hinode mission, JAXA / NASA / Lockheed Martin.

to astronomical events, happenings and missions in the Solar System, both here on Earth and well beyond,

Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Space Science Institute, via the Cassini Mission.

Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Space Science Institute, via the Cassini Mission.

to the biggest questions about galaxies, clusters, and even the entire observable Universe!

Image credit: NASA; ESA; G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch, University of California, Santa Cruz; R. Bouwens, Leiden University; and the HUDF09 Team.

Image credit: NASA; ESA; G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch, University of California, Santa Cruz; R. Bouwens, Leiden University; and the HUDF09 Team.

Well, if you’re not part of an astronomy club (or your club doesn’t publish NASA’s column for some reason), you’re going to want to make this a part of your life from now on.

Why’s that?

Because, from now on, I’m the professional astrophysicist writing these columns for NASA!

Image credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Image credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

I’ve just finished writing my first column, and it’s going to go out to more than 250 astronomy clubs! It’s got some great details about a remarkable, current event happening towards the end of next month: a rare, triple conjunction of three naked-eye planets in our night sky: Mercury, Venus and Jupiter!

Image credit: me, using Stellarium. Wait until you see the one I made for NASA!

Image credit: me, using Stellarium. Wait until you see the one I made for NASA!

Here’s a brief excerpt of what you’re missing out on (although, of course, I can’t show you the full content just yet!):

The Solar System is a busy place, with five wandering planets visible to the naked eye alone. When any two pass close by each other from our point-of-view, we see an astronomical conjunction, but on very rare occasions, three planets will find themselves grouped together: a triple conjunction. Towards the end of May, Mercury, Venus and Jupiter will treat us to the best triple conjunction in years.

Thanks to a growing partnership between NASA’s The Space Place and Astronomy Clubs worldwide — and thanks to NASA reaching out to me for a little boost for their education and public outreach — we’re working to get even more people excited about the wonders of the Universe! If you want this column (and any-and-all future NASA columns) in your Astro Club’s newsletter, send an email here, and don’t hesitate to tell them that I sent you!

Image credit: NASA's Space Place, via http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/.

Image credit: NASA’s Space Place, via http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/.

So yes, now I also write professionally for NASA, and get the opportunity to contribute a little more to education and public outreach worldwide! And if you’ve got a burning question, suggestion, or topic you need to see answered for the entire astronomy community, why not ask, right here, right now? After all, how often do you get the chance to reach an entire world-wide community?!

So, what are you waiting for? The Universe is a big, wondrous place, but it doesn’t wait for us to discover it; that’s up to you. Take advantage of and enjoy each day, and I’ll keep doing my best to share the wonders of the Universe with you in as many ways as I can handle!


  1. #1 BenHead
    New York
    April 28, 2013

    That is completely awesome news for you AND for all the astronomy clubs who receive this newsletter! Congratulations!!

  2. #2 Christopher
    April 28, 2013

    I am way happy that things are going so well for you.

  3. #3 Michael Fisher
    April 28, 2013

    Well deserved Ethan

    Onward & Upward sir!

  4. #4 eric stout
    Trenton NJ
    April 28, 2013

    Awesome. Well deserved. You bring it to the level of us on the not so scientific side. Having a beer in your honor!!

  5. #5 William Hendrixson
    April 28, 2013

    You were a small influence to my returning to finish my chemistry degree (by virtue of this blog having re-awakened my love of science in general). I hope you reach many more people with this new opportunity. Congratulations.

  6. #6 chuckinmontreal
    April 28, 2013

    Cool! And I mean CMB cool.

  7. #7 crd2
    April 28, 2013

    Today NASA, tomorrow the world!

  8. #8 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    April 28, 2013


  9. #9 Sinisa Lazarek
    April 29, 2013

    That’s great!

    But weren’t you writing some weeks ago that NASA is shutting down it’s public outreach programs?

  10. #10 N.
    April 29, 2013

    I’m glad NASA is becoming a serious agency!

  11. #11 InvaderXan
    April 29, 2013

    Oh fantastic. Congratulations! 🙂

  12. #12 Jim Rothwell
    Lancaster, Pennsylvania
    April 29, 2013

    Will you be able to post your NASA Outreach articles on your blog too? I don’t run an astronomy club, per se, but I do run a STEM club and include links to many of your blog posts through that for those with an interest in astronomy and cosmology.

  13. #13 Filip Radulovic
    April 29, 2013

    That’s great, congratulations!

    Will you also publish the same writings on this blog? And can we subscribe to the column as individuals by sending an email?

    P.S. The “send an email here” link at the end of the post is broken. Just letting you know.

  14. #14 Alice
    April 29, 2013

    Ethan, congratulations. Since I am neither an astronomer, nor a physicist, all I can think about as you describe the upcoming event is “the Dark Crystal” I don’t know much about the sky, or the universe, other than the fact that I enjoy looking up, and marvel when I see something I can actually identify. Thanks for doing what you do. Public education on these topics is so very important.

  15. #15 Phil Davis
    Ocala, FL
    April 29, 2013

    I enjoy your blog and would like to subscribe to your NASA columns, but am not in an astronomy club. As a retired NASA physicist I like to keep up with the latest happenings. Any chance of getting an individual link?

    FYI +1 for broken email link.

  16. #16 Bad Wolf
    April 29, 2013

    The Universe is a big place – perhaps the biggest. -Unknown (spotted on a bumper sticker in Northern California.

  17. #17 cope
    April 30, 2013

    Bad Wolf, that great quote (one I have used as a signature line) is from Kilgore Trout.

  18. #18 busymind
    April 30, 2013

    Congratulations Dr.Ethan.

  19. #19 Aroough
    April 30, 2013

    Nice honor. As I have said before, I really enjoy reading your “stuff” and find you an excellent teacher.

  20. #20 OKThen
    April 30, 2013

    Kuddo’s. Well deserved.

  21. #21 cay
    May 2, 2013

    Well done, Ethan! Kudos! 😉 I have been following you for years and telling my Astro kids to follow your blog. I hope one day we will meet.

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