Image Source: Robert Duyos / Sun-Sentinel.
Today, Jack Horkheimer would have turned 74. Happy Birthday to a dear and sadly departed man. From the mid-1970s to mid-2000s, he captured something of the best of that era, a hopeful, optimistic fascination with science, merged with the infinite possibilities of imagination (see, here, here, here and here). By contrast now, information is everywhere, but there is much less wonder.
Horkheimer at the Miami Planetarium in 1996. Image Source: Palm Beach Post.
Other astronomers may have sniffed, but Horkheimer brought naked eye astronomy, the most ancient of sciences and a pillar of human civilization, to thousands of homes in North America for decades. His show, Star Hustler, aired on PBS starting in 1976 and ran nationally from 1985; with the advent of the Internet and online searches, the show was renamed Star Gazer.
Image Source: She Walks Softly.
One of the highlights of Horkheimer's time as Director of the Miami Space Transit Planetarium and host of Star Hustler was his coverage of the arrival of Halley's Comet in 1986, when he chased the comet's reappearance across the globe aboard the Concorde jet, another icon from a lost time. The comet's 76-year-orbit reminds that the cosmos operates on a timeframe that makes up many blinks of a human lifespan. If I am fortunate enough to see the comet return deep in my old age in July 2061, I will remember Jack Horkheimer greeting the comet in February-March of 1986. Incidentally, that is one year after Sir Isaac Newton predicted the end of the world. So if I am still here, I will be all the more grateful.
Horkheimer's signature phrase, 'Keep Looking Up!' belied personal health problems including chronic pain, from which he suffered for most of his life. Messages to him are on Find a Grave, here. You can see my earlier post on Horkheimer here, with a couple of memorable videos, and the music used to introduce his show, Isao Tomita's electronic rendition of Debussy's Arabesque No. 1.