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Jack Horkheimer, 'The Star Hustler,' Dies At 72

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the keep-looking-up dept.

Space 84

krswan writes "I'll bet many readers had their interest in astronomy fanned by Jack Horkheimer through his long running 'Star Hustler' (later changed to 'Star Gazer') program on PBS. His joy and enthusiasm for basic naked-eye astronomy was contagious, and more than once got me in big trouble as a kid for sneaking outside when his show ended at 12:05am, trying to find whatever he was presenting that week. Horkheimer passed away on Friday. There's a nice story at Sky and Telescope, including the epitaph he already wrote for himself: 'Keep Looking Up was my life's admonition // I can do little else in my present position.'"

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84 comments

Goodbye Jack (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33327266)

This is very sad, since he seemed a really nice guy, who reminded me of my Latin teacher.

Stuff of stars (4, Insightful)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327274)

Cheesy effects, low production quality. Man, I really loved Star Hustler simply because it was so straightforward and he was so genuine. Thank you, Jack!

Re:Stuff of stars (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327302)

I used to catch his show all the time - PBS ran it right after Red Dwarf (and later, Chef) before they signed off for the night on Saturdays.

Re:Stuff of stars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33327342)

Same, he will be missed

Re:Stuff of stars (2, Informative)

pommiekiwifruit (570416) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327460)

It's a shame I can't remember seeing it in the UK - it looks like a good show. Short but informative.

Luckily "the sky at night" is still going strong with Sir Patrick Moore at 87 years old, and Carl Sagan used to be on TV also, but it would be nice to have had more astronomy.

Re:Stuff of stars (3, Interesting)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327560)

I used to catch his show all the time - PBS ran it right after Red Dwarf (and later, Chef) before they signed off for the night on Saturdays.

I think it was Dr. Who that had me first catching his show as the tail end of the Saturday broadcast. I've never really been that in to astronomy (not that I'm not in awe when I got a good look at the sky out at White Sands). However, The Star Hustler was infectious. I usually ended up watching his show and taking a look at the sky at his suggestions. A quirky show mixed with enthusiasm that invoked a sense of wonder that was surprisingly engaging; that was The Star Hustler.

Re:Stuff of stars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33330218)

It was inbetween Dr. Who and Blakes 7, atleast in the seattle area. A quirky little spot but intresting noneless.

Good bye Jack (2)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327278)

We will miss you.

Re:Good bye Jack (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327852)

And that epitaph is such a crackup. It is admirable to face death frankly, and even with humor.

Re:Good bye Jack (1)

skipdallas (1648049) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331486)

I enjoyed the show over the years, and I too thought the epitaph was over-the-top funny :-) ! Good Nite Jack!

Program names (3, Funny)

nacturation (646836) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327280)

I once had a program called "Penthouse Stars" but later had to change it to "Gazing at Stars from your top-floor apartment".

Re:Program names (1, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327450)

Bet you had some wonderful spreads. Plus, the forum would have been interesting: Dear Penthouse Stars Forum; Today I met a beautiful woman with 3.14 vaginas.

Re:Program names (3, Funny)

nacturation (646836) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327616)

Yeah, there was a sweet full-color poster of Cassiopeia, and there was a really hot shot of the Gemini twins... quite the thing to behold. We also catered to the women too: the stars below Orion's belt were quite popular.

Re:Program names (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33327942)

Star gazing is always so much better when you've got an interested lass to help you erect your telescope.

Re:Program names (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33329000)

We also catered to the women too: the stars below Orion's belt were quite popular.

I admit the dude's well-hung, but the glowing rash [google.com] is a turn-off.

Re:Program names (1)

TrekkieGod (627867) | more than 3 years ago | (#33335478)

Yeah, there was a sweet full-color poster of Cassiopeia, and there was a really hot shot of the Gemini twins... quite the thing to behold. We also catered to the women too: the stars below Orion's belt were quite popular.

I think you were also catering to women with the Gemini twins, Castor and Pollux [wikipedia.org] . :)

I've seen a lot of amazing things (4, Insightful)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327314)

I've seen a lot of amazing things in my life: the Grand Canyon, the Toledo Cathedral, fish swimming amongst coral reefs. Yet I still can't think of any quite as spectacular as the ones I've seen flat on my back and gazing out into space.

Re:I've seen a lot of amazing things (3, Insightful)

thms (1339227) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327466)

When I go outside, at any time of the night, I see very few stars. I remember seeing the Milky Way the first time and was quite awestruck, the name made perfect sense then.

Light pollution is turning us into the Krikkit!

Re:I've seen a lot of amazing things (1)

ooshna (1654125) | more than 3 years ago | (#33329180)

Same here if it wasn't for the big blackout of 2003 I never would believe the night sky could be so beautiful.

Re:I've seen a lot of amazing things (1)

unixguy43 (1644877) | more than 3 years ago | (#33329470)

I still lose my breath every time I look up and see the Milky Way. It's such a majestic sight, and seeing it never gets old.

Re:I've seen a lot of amazing things (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 3 years ago | (#33329966)

If you really want to see the stars get yourself to some place over 5,000 ft in elevation away from light pollution. It can be breathtaking!

Re:I've seen a lot of amazing things (1)

Kremmy (793693) | more than 3 years ago | (#33333522)

If you really want to see the stars get yourself to some place over 5,000 ft in elevation away from light pollution. It can be breathtaking!

And the higher you go, the more breathtaking it is!

Keep Looking Up (4, Informative)

hakey (1227664) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327334)

queue Première arabesque: I. Andantino con moto (Claude Debussy)

Re:Keep Looking Up (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33329292)

Consider it queued [youtube.com] .

Here's to you, Jack!

Re:Keep Looking Up (1)

Bemopolis (698691) | more than 3 years ago | (#33329726)

Don't forget to give Tomita his due, for the electro-whistling version thereof.

Re:Keep Looking Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33333836)

Don't forget to give Tomita his due, for the electro-whistling version thereof.

Now you've made me want to get a CD copy of Snowflakes Are Dancing. Man, it's been a LONG time since I heard Isao...

CAPTCHA: Journeys

Happy Journeys, Jack!

Damn. (3, Informative)

fyrewulff (702920) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327370)

Enjoyed watching him as a kid and into adulthood. He never talked down to the viewer and just had that genuine interest in astronomy that made you want to go out and look at the sky (as best you could inside heavy city light pollution)

That's too bad (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33327398)

He was one of the few doctors who put their money where their mouth is on the issue and practice of euthanasia -- even went to prison over it. America is a better place because of him. RIP, Jack, I hope your final days were as peaceful as those of your patients whom you helped ease into the great beyond.

Re:That's too bad (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327418)

Um, that was Jack Kevorkian, and he's still alive as far as I can tell.

Re:That's too bad (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33329078)

Yeah... That Jack is still alive.

The Jack we're talking about is the guy half resembling of Big Gay Al from South Park, who would be on PBS for 5 minutes sometime after Dr. Who or Red Dwarf (depending on which city you're in) and told you what planets or star alignments might be interesting to look for that night (weather and light pollution permitting.)

Poem for Jack... (5, Interesting)

poemtree (61258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327550)

...that I wrote in 1993, haven't felt this way since Sagan went...

FOR THE STAR HUSTLER, JACK HORKHEIMER

Incandescent night and still
amazing the number
of stars
you may see
in L.A., D.C., New York, N.Y.

Ocean City, Md., on the shore once
again the stars
few yet there
visible through the orange
haze of street light, parking lot.

Just twelve miles from here,
Assateaque, the whole
of the Milky Way
spilt into view—
crystalline, star–bloom.

Drive twelve miles more, find
the radio–array
at Wallops Island
sees stars—in remote
minor galaxies—already nova

in Roman times, a million light–
years won't show
for 998,000
more here, who then
will see a star explode?

Did Edison foresee the death
of night, forgotten stars?
Jack says
no one looks up anymore.
"Keep looking up. Keep looking up!"

Perhaps some day the power out
a whole grid gone down
a city will
reignite that ancient
pinhole nuclear fusion–light

so bright, so brilliant
that despite the ache
in our spines
we crane our necks
to look up, stare, configure.

Keep Horking Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33327552)

They should bury him with his eyes open then install two long telescopic tubes that stick out of the ground into his casket. That way he'll keep looking up forever.

Good man - poor epitaph (1)

jewishbaconzombies (1861376) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327632)

Appreciate all he did for Astronomy - but, and I'm serious here - I read that 3 times before I read "life" and not "wife". Awkward wording.

Re:Good man - poor epitaph (2, Funny)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327870)

Your right. If it read "wife" I'd have been a little confused as well. He always struck me as a bit of a flamer. Very nice- I loved his show, but he just seemed like he would have responded if some one yelled "Mary!" on the set.

I met Jack in 1987, he will be missed (5, Informative)

RedMage (136286) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327652)

Jack was a charismatic person with an infectious personality. He always was genuine, and had a passion for teaching astronomy. I was traveling and visiting various planetariums up and down the East Coast, with a final stop in Miami to visit the Space Transit. Jack made me feel very welcome and gave me a ton of his time explaining what made his planetarium special. Eventually I came to know that it wasn't the equipment (although that draws the public in initially), but the people that make these programs successful. Jack Horkheimer brought the wonder of the universe down to earth for many people, and I'm glad to have known him, even if only for a short while.

Thanks Jack (3, Informative)

beet31425 (1869680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327692)

Every time I hear Debussy's first arabesque, I will always think of the stars.

Re:Thanks Jack (2, Interesting)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328996)

Agreed! That music always makes me think of Horkheimer waddling out on the rings of Saturn. He will be missed. Toupee and all!

He made me want to look up. (2)

TheRedDuke (1734262) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327842)

Between Stargazer and Cosmos, he and Carl Sagan piqued my childhood interest in astronomy. As I miss Carl, I'll miss Jack too.

Thank you Mr. Horkheimer (2)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327940)

I remember seeing him on PBS when I was a child. He really made astronomy fun to think about. Because of him I got my first telescope! Between him and Carl Sagan, a lifelong interest in the universe was spawned.

A treat to an unknowing nerd. (3, Insightful)

Sean_Inconsequential (1883900) | more than 3 years ago | (#33327988)

I rather enjoyed his program as a child, however, for fear of repercussions, I wouldn't have let it be know. Despite the things i liked (astronomy, science, Star Trek; in retrospect it seems so obvious), and my knowledge that admitting i like them would have seen me labeled "uncool," I was quite unaware that I was a nerd. I learned from his show how to find several constellations, which i still find in a similar way. To this day I still look into the night sky and it still has a similar affect - a child-like wonder, awe. I often wonder what other people see in the night sky.

Re:A treat to an unknowing nerd. (0, Troll)

mmcxii (1707574) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328440)

Afraid to admit that you like science because of the chance you may be labeled uncool? Not to be a troll or anything but... how does it feel to live in fear?

Re:A treat to an unknowing nerd. (2, Interesting)

Sean_Inconsequential (1883900) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328848)

It was in second grade grade, it felt like being a kid, to be quite honest - you know, trying not to be bullied and such? I am quite a bit older than that now, however, and quite upfront about what I like. But thank you for your concern as to the nothing you know about me none the less. Enough now, back on topic...

Re:A treat to an unknowing nerd. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33332802)

I know enough to know that you betrayed yourself. If that isn't a problem for you I guess I probably know you much better than what you think.

Re:A treat to an unknowing nerd. (1)

Sean_Inconsequential (1883900) | more than 3 years ago | (#33333056)

I applaud your reading comprehension skills, good sir.

Re:A treat to an unknowing nerd. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33347386)

I read it correctly but you're still wrong. I'll let you continue to be wrong.

Late night memories of youth (1)

werdnam (1008591) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328188)

When I was young, I used to stay up just long enough to catch Jack Horkheimer's Star Hustler program on TV. That funny little whistly theme still brightens my day whenever I hear it. Thanks for all the fond memories, Jack.

Keep those telescopes trained on the stars.. (1)

phrackwulf (589741) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328196)

"A man that eloquent in death deserves to be revered." Now I'm off to Berlin. I'm going to personally shoot that paper hanging son of a bitch!

That show was vital for me in the pre-Internet era (4, Informative)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328458)

It was the only "real time" info I and many other American amateur astronomers had for events like the sudden appearance of bright comets.

Late night PBS (2)

Markvs (17298) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328680)

I used to watch him after Doctor Who on PBS in the 80's... it'd be the last thing on WEDW before they went off the air. Jack, you got me to walk out the back door and look up more than once and made living in the middle of the woods all that much more tolerable. Thanks for getting me interested in Astronomy, I already miss you.

Re:Late night PBS (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331242)

Same here, although I saw him before Dr. Who where I was, which was always nice to put me in the right mood for the Doctor... Sad.

Print page still has comments (2, Interesting)

Skapare (16644) | more than 3 years ago | (#33328866)

I wanted to print this out for internet-challenged members of my family. But their print-this page still includes the comments. At least in this case, so far, there weren't very many. But I suspect it will grow.

Can't they make a version of the print-this page that leaves out the comments and just sticks with the article. I don't like wasting precious ink.

Re:Print page still has comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33329410)

Why don't you just print the pages that contain the article? You DO know that you can choose what pages to print, right?

Re:Print page still has comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33329608)

Just save the page yourself, & cut out the excess comment containing html. Or use a custom css style sheet. Or copy and paste the important text. Or do a screen shot and photo shop away any unwanted content. Or do one of the five billion other things that will do what you want without wasting ink.

Re:Print page still has comments (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 3 years ago | (#33332216)

Firebug. Right-click the comments div, "Inspect element", and delete it.

He will be missed. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33329090)

He changed the perception of astronomy into something everyone could enjoy and do. As a planetarium director myself (just up the state from him) I owe my style of presentation to him. Funny, interesting, entertaining, and educational (at least I try to). Amazingly he was doing it in a 5 minute show. For you Jack, I will keep looking up.

Another great who made science accessible gone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33329340)

I was already interested in astronomy(1972, and Comet Kohoutek) by the time I first saw his show, but it was always a nice reminder of what was in the sky at the time. Sad to hear of his passing

Sad. (4, Interesting)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 3 years ago | (#33329366)

Back in the mid-80s our local PBS affiliate ran it before signing off during the weekends. It was one of the few things that made any childhood fear of the dark immediately dissipate. I'm not sure if it was because he was so enthusiastic or the sweet, gentle music or a presentation that was instantly accessible and all inclusive.

I can remember one night he was talking about Venus and that you could see it with a pair of binoculars and if you didn't have any, just use a pair of toilet paper tubes. I rushed to the bathroom, ripped two tubes out, dashed to the yard and *GASP* saw it! It was one of those moments that I'll never forget. Thanks Jack.

You will be missed, Jack (1)

unixguy43 (1644877) | more than 3 years ago | (#33329452)

Like many others that have commented, I remember seeing Star Hustler in the mid-80's as well, as a PBS weekend sign-off. Many a time my dad and I would go outside to check on Jack's observation for the week, and always had fun looking up at the sky. Even though the sign-off would be after midnight, we'd sometimes stare up at the sky pointing at things we could see for hours at a time.

Jack always kept astronomy accessible to everyone, and for that I thank you. You will be missed, Jack. I know I'll be one to keep looking up, and will make sure as many people as possible do the same.

R.I.P. Jack (2, Informative)

CptNerd (455084) | more than 3 years ago | (#33329476)

I watched his last episode of the show on Youtube [youtube.com] , it's about the Summer Triangle (Vega, Deneb and Altair) that is fairly high in the sky around Labor Day. He looked like he was having some breathing problems, but you could tell he had the same spirit and sheer joy in sharing his "discovery." If I can think of it, I'll try to remember the "Summer Triangle" as the "Horkheimer Triangle", to remember him, and to "remember to keep looking up."

Debussy's Premiere Arabesque... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33329596)

You can find the original synthesized version of Snowflakes Are Dancing by Isao Tomita here:

https://encrypted.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=snowflakes+are+dancing&btnG=Google+Search&aq=f&aqi=&oq=&gs_rfai=

Here's the Arabesque:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iXLMEi4Kp0&feature=related

From a land far, far away (1)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | more than 3 years ago | (#33329758)

As a non-US-er I had never heard of Jack Horkheimer. I just Youtubed a few episodes and I must say that his enthusiasm is/was truly infectious. I'd understand people feeling a sad kind of loss.

Just had a flashback (1)

whosit (176149) | more than 3 years ago | (#33329918)

to watch PBS waiting for reruns of Dark Shadows and watching this guy tell me where Mars or Jupiter would be.

See you next week.....

Very sad (1)

johngineer (1647577) | more than 3 years ago | (#33330180)

How very sad. I remember when they would air it between shows when I was a kid. As soon as I heard that Tomita music, I knew I only had 30 seconds or so to get my Dad to the TV so we could watch it and then go outside to "look up". I used to subscribe to the podcast, but when I lost my iPod I let it lax. I recently started watching them again and you could tell something was not right. He didn't seem well. In spite of obviously not feeling his best, he was still very upbeat and enthusiastic -- always part of his charm and appeal -- right to the end. I give him props for caring about his audience and their education for keeping on. I'll miss you, Jack. You made the night sky a friendly place.

72 is too young (1)

grolaw (670747) | more than 3 years ago | (#33330470)

Most of his subjects had much longer lifespans. Why couldn't astronomers have lifespans on parity with a few near-space objects ...

RIP, Jack.

Could vitamin D deficiency have killed him? (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331270)

Anyone who works indoors and late at night is at risk: http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/treatment.shtml [vitamindcouncil.org]

People with adequate vitamin D and good nutrition are much less likely to catch respiratory infections or to under or over respond to them.
http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/science/research/vitamin-d-and-influenza.shtml [vitamindcouncil.org]
http://www.alternativeratreatments.com/eat-to-live.html [alternativ...tments.com]

Anyway, I'm sorry to hear the news, because I so much enjoyed his shows.

From Albert Einstein on Science and Religion:
    http://www.sacred-texts.com/aor/einstein/einsci.htm [sacred-texts.com]
"For the scientific method can teach us nothing else beyond how facts are related to, and conditioned by, each other. The aspiration toward such objective knowledge belongs to the highest of which man is capabIe, and you will certainly not suspect me of wishing to belittle the achievements and the heroic efforts of man in this sphere. Yet it is equally clear that knowledge of what is does not open the door directly to what should be. One can have the clearest and most complete knowledge of what is, and yet not be able to deduct from that what should be the goal of our human aspirations. Objective knowledge provides us with powerful instruments for the achievements of certain ends, but the ultimate goal itself and the longing to reach it must come from another source. And it is hardly necessary to argue for the view that our existence and our activity acquire meaning only by the setting up of such a goal and of corresponding values. The knowledge of truth as such is wonderful, but it is so little capable of acting as a guide that it cannot prove even the justification and the value of the aspiration toward that very knowledge of truth. Here we face, therefore, the limits of the purely rational conception of our existence.
    But it must not be assumed that intelligent thinking can play no part in the formation of the goal and of ethical judgments. When someone realizes that for the achievement of an end certain means would be useful, the means itself becomes thereby an end. Intelligence makes clear to us the interrelation of means and ends. But mere thinking cannot give us a sense of the ultimate and fundamental ends. To make clear these fundamental ends and valuations, and to set them fast in the emotional life of the individual, seems to me precisely the most important function which religion has to perform in the social life of man. And if one asks whence derives the authority of such fundamental ends, since they cannot be stated and justified merely by reason, one can only answer: they exist in a healthy society as powerful traditions, which act upon the conduct and aspirations and judgments of the individuals; they are there, that is, as something living, without its being necessary to find justification for their existence. They come into being not through demonstration but through revelation, through the medium of powerful personalities. One must not attempt to justify them, but rather to sense their nature simply and clearly."

Jack Horkheimer, in his own unique and quirky way, was one of those "powerful personalities", one who helped showed me the beauty of the universe in a way that made sense intellectually as well as aesthetically and emotionally. I'll try to "Keep Looking Up", and I hope you are on to better things, Jack. :-)

He did a great disservice to amateur astronomy (-1, Flamebait)

Schrodycat (834963) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331466)

Well, it's the image of amateur astronomy that he did a disservice to. When I mention to friends or family that I'm into astronomy, it's unfortunate that they think of this guy in a polyester suit.

Arc to Arcturus (1)

ManFromNowhere (1806944) | more than 3 years ago | (#33332198)

Like many here I used to watch Jack every Friday night on the local PBS Sci-Fi Fridays. Every Friday night it was Jack, Red Dwarf, and Dr. Who. (plus occasionally something else like Blake's 7). Jack was like the cool uncle who could boil something down and make it easy to understand and yet still fun to enjoy. Whether it was how to spot the Leonid meteor showers or how to find a constellation by "Arcing to Arcturus" Jack was the man. Here's a toast to the Star Hustler, we would be lucky to have more people on this planet as genuine as him. Hopefully he is now touring the stars he loved to teach about in life. RIP Jack.

I remember... (1)

one cup of coffee (1623645) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337334)

I remember watching him as a kid with my Dad and younger brothers, and then going outside to look at the stars. Those are great memories. He definitely had an influence on my love for astronomy. Jack was a great man to be able to give the gift of curiosity, wonder, and enthusiasm to countless people. He is definitely missed. His legacy lives on.

RIP Jack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33345842)

Thanks for all the star gazing... and keep looking up!

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