Jack Horkheimer, the guy who worked for more than 30 years to acquaint people with the fine old tradition of naked-eye astronomy, died in Miami Friday. He was 72.
Jack Horkheimer, America's Star Gazer, at home in a television production studio - Photo by Bill Wisser, first published in Astronomy, January 2006
A short note appears in Sunday’s Miami Herald:
`Star Gazer’ host Jack Horkheimer dies
By ELINOR J. BRECHER, ebrecher@MiamiHerald.com
Jack Horkheimer, Public Television’s “Star Gazer,” died Friday afternoon of a respiratory ailment, according to a spokesman for the Miami Museum of Science and Space Transit Planetarium.
Born June 11, 1938, he was 72.
In an e-mail to staff, museum officials said they were “very saddened to have just learned that our resident Star Gazer, Jack Horkheimer, passed away today after being ill for quite some time.
“Jack was executive director of [the] Planetarium for over 35 years and was an internationally recognized pioneer in popularizing naked-eye astronomy. He was also a recognized media celebrity, often being the foremost commentator on all astronomy related happenings nationwide.
Horkheimer was best known as the creator, writer and host of public television’s “Star Gazer,” the 30-year weekly TV series on naked eye astronomy. Seen on PBS stations nationwide, “Star Gazer” reached millions of people, helping create a love of the stars for several generations of enthusiasts.”
Arrangements are pending.
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/08/20/1785361/star-gazer-host-jack-horkheimer.html#ixzz0xJv6dDOq
Many of my best opportunities to watch stars come when I’ve far away from optics to improve the sighting. Horkheimer’s practical advice on how to eyeball the sky delighted me from the start.
Horkheimer was a media guy, not an astronomer or scientist in any strict sense. He was a great popularizer of astronomy. Star Gazer may be the single most effective educational program on astronomy in history, by viewers and by total effect.
Checking his website, I note that he’s got, in the can and ready to broadcast, episodes of Star Gazer for weeks to come.
Here’s Star Gazer for the coming week:
- Note at the blog of Astronomy.com
- Sky and Telescope blog note on Horkheimer’s death
- “America’s Stargazer,” a very nice profile from Astronomy Magazine, January 2006
- On-top-of-nearly-everything Phil Plait got the word early, at Bad Astronomy — note the photo. Also look at the comments; Phil asked his readers to share their fond memories of learning astronomy, or whatever, from Jack. Great comments — especially from people who worked with him.
- From a photo caption at the Astronomy profile — such perfect pitch from Horkheimer, a perhaps unwitting poet:
- “I’ve got to make people laugh and smile.” Due to a congenital lung ailment called
bronchiectasis, Horkheimer has been close to death on several occasions. He’s already
erected a tombstone for himself next to his mother’s and father’s at a tiny cemetery in
Randolph, Wisconsin. True to Horkheimer’s irreverent sense of humor, the epitaph reads,
“‘Keep looking up’ was my life’s admonition. I can do little else in my present position.”