Sunday, August 22, 2010

RIP Star Hustler Jack Horkheimer!

I remember the first time I saw him on TV and the first thought I had.

"You're kidding me! Right!?"

But, like all characters, Jack Horkheimer, the 'Star Hustler' seen weekly on Public Broadcasting from the states kind of grew on me and I found myself tuning in as often as possible in the hopes of catching one of his shows. They were fun, they were campy and it was wonderfully informative about all things 'backyard astronomy!'

In case you weren't aware, Horkheimer, the executive director of the Miami Space Transit Planetarium and renowned astronomy "popularizer" passed away in his home in Florida on Aug. 21 from respiratory illness.

He started the show back in the 1970s and what made the show endearing was the absolute enthusiasm Horkheimer brought to his presentation. The show would start with its signature theme Arabesque #1 by Claude Debussy. Horkheimer would appear, sitting on "Saturn's ring" to relay the latest goings-on that were visible to the naked eye in the sky. He then would close out the show with the reminder to "keep looking up!"

Horkheimer started the show with the title "Star Hustler." However, in the age of the Internet and search engines, he had to change the title of his show because, if you typed in "star hustler" in the search field, chances were good you were going to find a site that had little or nothing to do with astronomy of any kind!

He would also challenge many misconceptions about astronomy including a few "doomsday" predictions, and this video where he once again tackles that annoying Mars Hoax that just...won't...die!

Amateur astronomy has certainly lost one of its best ambassadors. He offered the hobby to a wide range of people in a wonderfully light and uncomplicated manner, reminding everyone that, if you have a pair of eyes, you too are an astronomer. And that is perhaps the most important legacy he could leave.

So clear skies...and remember to keep looking up!

1 comment:

  1. I will miss him. I always enjoyed his lighthearted, fun filled approach to displaying the sky to T.V viewers. He was really skilled in reaching the everyday folks and I always enjoyed his 80's members jacket!

    I wish he never retired it!