Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jack Horkheimer: Star Hustler - RIP

On Friday 20 August 2010 Jack Horkheimer passed away from a resperatory ailment. He will be forever remembered for his fun & educational 5 minute Star Hustler on PBS. He was the Executive Director of the Miami Space Transit Planetarium at the Miami Science Museum at the time the show began running in 1976. WPBT2 from Miami produced them. (You can see the 1st script from 4 Nov 1976 here. Not the difference from that to what was to follow.) Each show started out with the following:

"Some people hustle pool,
Some people hustle cars,
But have you ever heard about
The man who hustles stars?"

Next the announcer would give the title of the show which gave some hints about the theme. Jack Horkheimer then would appear.

Horkheimer then said "Greetings, greetings, (sometimes a 3rd greetings was added)" & launched into the show. At the end of each show he would say "Keep looking up." Here is a show from the mid 80s:

I remember dicovering the show shortly after it went national in the 80s. He had a way of making astronomy fun for those who didn't know anything about astronomy without making them feel stupid. At the same time he made sure it wasn't boring for those of us who knew something about astronomy.

The show also helped to make of Claude Debussy's Arabesque No. 1 familiar to a whole generation who only knew Clair de Lune.

Unfortunately, with the rise of the internet, he was forced to change the name of his show. Too many searches for Star Hustler led people to Hustler magazine instead of his website. So he changed the name to Star Gazer.

The show is still running. Over the years his entrance changed & the graphics improved. But his enthusiasm never waned. The website has the scripts & feed dates for shows until the end of September. I am not sure how far into the future he was able to film before his death. But there will be a few more weeks of shows for sure. I am sure that WPBT will be facing a daunting task in deciding if they get a replacement for him or discontinuing the show. A decision I don't envy them 1 bit as there are people who will not accept anyone else in his place.*

WPBT made the shows (both the 5 minute & 1 minute versions) available on the website & last year they added a YouTube channel. Here is the most recent show available that will air next week:

He was also honored by having an asteroid named after him. 11409 Horkheimer (1999 FD9) is a main-belt asteroid discovered March 19, 1999 by the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search at the Anderson Mesa Station.

I can honestly say that he will be sorely missed. Fortunately his legacy will go on. I have no doubts there are a huge number of people in the next generation of astronomers who will say they got interested thanks to Jack Horkheimer.

Finally, here is another of the older shows from the 80s.

* IMHO If they can find someone who can do a good job, create a new version of the show with a different name than Star Gazer.


  • At 24/8/10 11:37 PM , Blogger TH2 said...

    "Greetings, greetings...". I have fond memories of seeing Mr. Horkheimer's astronomical segments.

    Rest in peace, sir, and may God keep you.


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