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Meet the Staff

Meet the people who bring you each issue of Astronomy magazine
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David J. Eicher

Editor

David Eicher is one of the most widely recognized astronomy enthusiasts in the world. He has been with Astronomy magazine for 36 years, beginning as an assistant editor and working through associate, senior, and managing positions. He has been the magazine’s chief editor since 2002.

Dave has spoken widely to amateur astronomy groups, logged many hundreds of hours at the eyepiece, and written 15 books on astronomy. Among them are Galaxies: Inside the Universe’s Star Cities (Penguin Random House); Mission Moon 3-D (with Brian May, London Stereoscopic Co. and MIT Press), and The New Cosmos: Answering Astronomy’s Big Questions (Cambridge University Press).

Dave has also written 9 books on American history, including The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War (Simon and Schuster), Dixie Betrayed: How the South Really Lost the Civil War (Little, Brown), and Civil War High Commands (with John H. Eicher, Stanford University Press).

He has spoken to many science and business groups around the world, including locations with his collaborator Brian May, and at Harvard University, the Starmus Festival, and the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

A native of Oxford, Ohio, Dave grew up around Miami University, where his father was a professor of organic chemistry. Rather than turning to chemistry, however, Dave was attracted to the stars as a 14-year-old when he spotted Saturn through a small telescope at a star party. Comet West really turned him on to observing, and Dave soon went far beyond to explore clusters, nebulae, and galaxies from his dark backyard — he soon was hooked on viewing deep-sky objects.

In 1977, Dave founded and began editing the magazine Deep Sky Monthly. Five years later, the publication moved with Dave to Milwaukee, turned quarterly, and was renamed Deep Sky, which was issued regularly until 1992. In addition to his book writing, Dave has written or edited hundreds of articles on all facets of astronomy, science and hobby. In 1990, the International Astronomical Union named a minor planet, 3617 Eicher, for Dave in recognition of his service to astronomy.

Dave was president of the Astronomy Foundation, the telescope industry and astronomy outreach group, from 2011–2017.

Dave has appeared on CNN, CNN Headline News, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, National Public Radio, and other media outlets to promote the science and hobby of astronomy. He has written planetarium shows for Adler Planetarium in Chicago and film scripts for NASA.

Dave is also enthusiastically interested in minerals and meteorites and has a collection of more than 1,500 specimens representing Earth and a smattering of asteroids in this branch of planetary science.

An accomplished rock and blues drummer, Dave enjoys jamming with his colleagues at Kalmbach Media, and the focus is on blues and blues-rock, centering on the styles of Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, the Allman Brothers, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and others. Dave is also a big fan of the Green Bay Packers, and during the football season, you will often find him in Lambeau Field.


He lives in Waukesha Township, Wisconsin, near Big Bend, with his wife, Lynda, a schoolteacher. His son Chris is a journalist and videographer.

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LuAnn Williams Belter

Art Director

A native of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, LuAnn's love for graphics began when her father would bring home large, colorful paper pads from the mill where he worked. Hours spent filling those pages ultimately inspired her to pursue a graphic design degree from Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee, in 1982.

LuAnn's professional career was launched at Raintree Publishers in Milwaukee, where she designed books and magazines. She also worked in a 14-year partnership at McDill Design in Milwaukee. Leaving to raise her family, she freelanced for 4 years and worked part-time for Kerlin Design. Since joining Kalmbach in 2003, LuAnn has worked on several different titles, including Art Jewelry, Trains, Classic Trains, and Birder's World.

LuAnn lives in a suburb of Milwaukee with her devoted husband Ed, their two wonderful children Tyler and Rachel, and energetic dogs Elvis and Eragon.

Elisa Neckar

Production Editor

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Alison Klesman

Associate Editor

Alison earned her bachelor’s degree in physics and master’s degree in earth, atmospheric, and planetary science from MIT. During this time, she completed several years of research in the field of planetary science, working on research topics that ranged from comets and asteroids to the atmosphere of Pluto. After earning her Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Florida for work surveying active galactic nuclei in massive galaxy clusters, Alison decided to pursue a career in professional writing as a web content writer for Student Experts, Inc. Many of her evenings were also spent as a star tour guide for visitors at Spencer’s Observatory, a small privately-owned observatory in Tucson, AZ.

When she’s not working, Alison is likely running, sewing, writing, or reading comic books. She also enjoys traveling, history, science fiction, and everything Disney. Alison currently lives near downtown Waukesha with her two cats, several sewing machines, and a very large number of books.

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Jake Parks

Associate Editor

Jake Parks’ fascination with astronomy began way back when he was seven years old. This is when his parents bought him his first astronomy book, I Wonder Why Stars Twinkle and Other Questions About Space. Since then, he has sought out every bit of astronomical news he can get his hands on.

Though Jake initially started his undergraduate career at Ohio State University majoring in architecture, within a year, he had switched his major to astronomy and physics with a minor in professional writing. After graduation, Jake lucked into a short-term position as a temporary lecturer in the Department of Physics at Ohio State before moving to Madison to work in the healthcare industry for a time.

But eventually, Jake’s passion for astronomy drew him back in, and he enrolled in a science journalism graduate program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After earning his master’s degree, Jake worked part-time in the Department of Astronomy at UW-Madison as a science writer.

In his free time, Jake can likely be found playing guitar, video games, or tag with his dog Maggie. Jake also considers himself addicted to good television.

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Caitlyn Buongiorno

Associate Editor

During her final year at the University of Illinois: Urbana-Champaign, Caitlyn wrote the first alumni newsletter for the Astronomy Department, sparking her interest in science journalism. After earning her bachelor’s degree in astronomy and creative writing, Caitlyn took on an internship with Fermi National Accelerator laboratory. Following the completion of her internship, Caitlyn continued to write for Fermilab and Symmetry — a joint publication from Fermilab and SLAC National Laboratory — as a freelancer and, shortly after, joined SLAC’s freelance team as well. While freelancing, Caitlyn also interned at the European Southern Observatory in Germany where she wrote primarily about new research done at ESO and a few pictures of the week for the Hubble Space Telescope.

In her spare time, Caitlyn has also volunteered for the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. There she taught guests, young and old, how to use a telescope to view the day and night sky. This, combined with working for ESO, sparked her interest in amateur astronomy.

Writing has always been part of her life and Caitlyn hopes to one day publish a young adult novel. When she’s not writing science articles or fantasy chapters, Caitlyn enjoys reading and playing video games.

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Mclean Bennett

Copy Editor

McLean Bennett began working in journalism as a freelance writer for his local newspaper in high school and has since reported for several daily newspapers across Wisconsin, including as part of the state’s USA Today Network. When he’s not copy editing at Astronomy (or its sister publication, Discover), he’s probably catching up on Seinfeld reruns, pretending to be a gourmet chef or practicing amateur nature photography.

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Hailey Rose McLaughlin

Editorial Assistant

Hailey Rose McLaughlin grew up in a small town in rural Wisconsin, but her imagination was always taking her to far-off places. She began jotting her stories down, fueling a love of writing that stuck with her. It was only natural that when she decided to go to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she would major in Creative Writing and Journalism. Her love of writing has now spanned across different genres including creative non-fiction, news, art and culture, music, and currently, astronomy.

When she’s not learning about the cosmos, she’s seeing her favorite bands in her favorite city, Milwaukee, snowboarding, traveling, or trying out a new recipe.

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Roen Kelly

Illustrator

Roen Kelly is responsible for many of the illustrations in Astronomy magazine. She is a staff illustrator at Kalmbach Publishing Co. Her illustrations are reproduced all over the world in magazines, books, museum displays, TV and video projects.

At the University of Toronto, Roen Kelly trained to become a scientific illustrator in a specialized program called Biomedical Communications. Prior to this she earned at BFA from University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee. After graduation she illustrated a comprehensive Kinesiology book with over four hundred illustrations. The book is a best selling medical textbook. Roen Kelly also worked at the Medical College of Wisconsin creating medical illustrations for cutting-edge research in molecular genetics and ophthalmology.

Currently she lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in a 1920s bungalow with her husband Jim Kelly.

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Richard Talcott

Contributor

Contributing Editor Richard Talcott brings to the magazine a lifelong interest in the science of astronomy as well as observing the night sky. He graduated from Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio, in 1976 with a degree in mathematics. After attending graduate school at the Ohio State University, Rich returned to Marietta in the early 1980s as a lecturer in the physics department. He joined the staff of Astronomy in early 1986 and hasn't looked back.

Rich has written more than 100 feature articles on both the science of astronomy and observing the night sky. He also edits the popular “Star Dome” and “Paths of the Planets” sections at the center of Astronomy and has created many of the magazine’s star charts. In addition, he produces Astronomy’s Deep Space Mysteries wall calendar.

Rich is author of Teach Yourself Visually Astronomy (Wiley Publishing, 2008), an introduction to observing the sky with naked eyes, binoculars, and small telescopes. He also authored, in collaboration with Joel Harris, Chasing the Shadow: An Observer's Guide to Eclipses (Kalmbach Publishing Co., 1994). The July 2010 solar eclipse was the ninth total solar eclipse he has seen.

Rich and his wife, Evelyn, live in Waukesha, Wisconsin, where he enjoys playing softball and cheering on his favorite baseball team, the New York Yankees.

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Michael E. Bakich

Contributor

Michael has been fascinated with the stars all his life. His astronomical journey began in third grade, after his parents bought him a set of constellation flash cards. From that day forward, Michael’s goal was to become an astronomer.

He realized that goal in 1975, when he graduated with a degree in astronomy from the Ohio State University. Rather than continuing on a research-oriented track, Michael attended Michigan State University, where he received a Master of Arts in planetarium education (one of only six such degrees ever awarded) in 1977.

Michael previously worked in seven planetaria and has served as a consultant in the planetarium field. He joined Astronomy in February 2003.

Michael has written three books for Cambridge University Press. His first was The Cambridge Guide to the Constellations. The planets were the focus of his second book, The Cambridge Planetary Handbook. Michael’s third book, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Amateur Astronomy, deals with all aspects of amateur astronomy.

Springer published Michael’s fourth book, 1,001 Celestial Wonders to See Before You Die (New York, 2010, ISBN 978–1–4419–1776–8). It’s part of the publisher’s “Patrick Moore’s Practical Astronomy” series. Michael’s fifth book, which he co-wrote with Astronomy Contributing Editor Mike Reynolds, crosses into the field of education. Exploring the Universe: A Laboratory Guide for Astronomy was published in 2015 by Morton Publishing.

Michael’s most recent book, published by Springer, deals with the great event in the United States on August 21, 2017. Your Guide to the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse deals with all aspects of solar eclipses in general and with the “Great American Eclipse” in particular.

Because of his popular appeal, engaging style, and vast astronomical knowledge, Michael is a much sought after “tour guide” to eclipses, sky events, and historical astronomy sites. Michael has conducted tours to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, to several space shuttle launches, and a cruise to see the 1986 appearance of Halley’s Comet in Tahiti. Michael also has led a group to South Africa to observe the 2004 transit of Venus, and has headed up total eclipse expeditions to Mexico, Peru, Tahiti, Europe, Russia, China, Easter Island, Australia, and elsewhere.

In his spare time, Michael enjoys woodworking, science-fiction movies, and book collecting. This last passion has led him to amass a more than 400 19th-century, first-edition astronomy books — one of the largest private collections anywhere.

Michael also enjoys observing celestial objects with a variety of telescopes. He has logged thousands of hours at the eyepiece. He lives in Tucson with his wife, Holley, who has earned degrees in fine arts and interior design.

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