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Meet the Staff

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

David J. Eicher

Editor

Dave Eicher is one of the most widely recognized astronomy enthusiasts in the world. He has been with Astronomy magazine for 32 years, beginning as an assistant editor and working through associate, senior, and managing positions. He has been the magazine's editor since 2002. Dave has spoken widely to amateur astronomy groups, logged many hundreds of hours at the eyepiece, and written eight books on astronomy. Among the most used by amateur astronomers are Comets: Visitors from Deep Space (Cambridge University Press), The Universe from Your Backyard (Cambridge University Press), Deep-Sky Observing with Small Telescopes (Enslow), and Stars and Galaxies (Kalmbach Books).

In 2014, Dave wrote and edited, along with Queen guitarist and astronomer Brian May and astronomer Garik Israelian, Starmus: 50 Years of Man in Space, the volume of talks and presentations from the 2011 Starmus Festival of astronomy, cosmology, space exploration, and music held in the Canary Islands. He is set to be a speaker at the second Starmus Festival in September 2014.

Dave is also currently busy producing a planetarium show and writing The New Cosmos: Answering Astronomy’s Big Questions, a large book project to be published by Cambridge University Press in 2015.

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 become president of the Astronomy Foundation, the telescope industry and astronomy outreach group, in 2011.

Dave has appeared on CNN, CNN Headline News, 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.

In his free time, Dave has studied Civil War history; he has written eight books on the subject, including The Longest Night (Simon & Schuster), Dixie Betrayed (Little Brown), The Civil War in Books (University of Illinois Press), and Civil War High Commands (written with his father, John, Stanford University Press).

Dave is also enthusiastically interested in minerals and meteorites and has a collection of more than 1,200 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 Publishing Co., 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, and son, Chris.

Kevin Keefe

Kevin P. Keefe

Publisher

Kevin was born in Chicago in 1951 and grew up in the small town of Niles, Michigan, in the southwest corner of the state. He studied journalism at Michigan State University and spent several years working for daily newspapers in Michigan before coming to the Milwaukee Sentinel, the city's former morning newspaper, in 1980. He was arts and entertainment editor at the Sentinel before his lifelong interest in railroads brought him to Kalmbach's Trains magazine in 1987. He was named editor of Trains in 1992 and served in that capacity until 2000, when he took on publisher duties at Kalmbach. He was named publisher of Astronomy in 2005.

Kevin and his wife, Alison, live in Milwaukee. Their son, Barry, is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and their daughter, Caitlin, attends the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.

LuAnn Williams Belter

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.

Karri Ferron

Karri Ferron

Production Editor

Karri Ferron joined the staff of Astronomy in June 2008 after graduating from the University of Missouri with a bachelor's degree in magazine journalism and a minor in business. She started as the magazine's copy editor and eventually became an assistant editor as she began writing and editing feature stories. Now, as the production editor, Karri ensures every magazine page meets production deadlines and adheres to proper grammar and style. She also edits columnists, writes news, and manages "Astro Confidential." In 2012, she took over management of Astronomy.com and its social media sites and oversaw the website redesign that debuted in September 2013. In November 2013, she led her first astronomy tour to see the northern lights from the cost of Norway, which she says has been one of the most exciting experiences of her life.

Although she spends most of her days at Astronomy editing text, Karri still reads a lot in her spare time and can easily get lost in a bookstore for hours. Beyond a good book or magazine, Karri and her husband, Mitchell, enjoy attending sporting events or watching them on TV. She's an avid fan of the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers, Wisconsin Badgers, and Mizzou Tigers, and she thinks the World Cup and Olympics should be international holidays. Karri also plays the piano and loves to spend time with her family at their lake house. She and Mitchell get to travel frequently thanks to family and friends who live all over the globe, and they hope to step foot on all seven continents one day.

Richard Talcott

Richard Talcott

Senior Editor

Senior 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 “Sky this Month” section at the center of Astronomy and creates most 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.

Michael Bakich

Michael E. Bakich

Senior Editor

Michael has been fascinated with the stars all his life. His astronomical journey began when he was 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.

Michael realized that goal in 1975, when he graduated with a bachelor’s 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 degree in planetarium education (one of only six such degrees ever awarded) in 1977.

During the past two decades, Michael has worked in seven planetaria and has served as a consultant in the planetarium field. He joined Astronomy as associate editor (and photo editor) in February 2003.

Prior to joining the staff of Astronomy, Michael’s days revolved around serving as a planetarium consultant, lecturing, and writing. Michael has written three books for Cambridge University Press. His first book 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 most recent 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.

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 many tours, including two to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico to study the astronomically related ruins of the Mayas, several to space shuttle launches, a cruise to see the 1986 appearance of Halley’s Comet in Tahiti, and total solar eclipse trips in the United States, the Baja Peninsula in Mexico, and Peru. Since joining the staff of Astronomy, Michael has led a group to South Africa to observe the 2004 transit of Venus, and has headed up total eclipse expeditions to Tahiti, Europe, Russia, China, and Easter Island.

In his spare time, Michael enjoys woodworking, science-fiction movies (with particular emphasis on giant monsters such as Godzilla), and book collecting. This last passion has led him on a lengthy search for 19th-century, first-edition astronomy books. Currently, Michael’s collection numbers more than 450 individual 19th-century first editions — 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. Michael lives in Milwaukee with his wife, Holley, who has earned degrees in fine arts and interior design.

Liz Kruesi

Liz Kruesi

Associate Editor

Liz grew up outside of Chicago. Because of the bright city lights, most of her experience observing the night sky occurred during trips to the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. Her interest in the night sky and Hubble Space Telescope images began at an early age.

Liz earned her bachelor's degree in physics and minored in English at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. While at Lawrence, Liz studied off-campus at Columbia University's Biosphere 2 center in Arizona, and completed two internships as a research assistant for the University of Chicago. She is also Lawrence's class of 2004 alumni secretary.

After Lawrence, she took graduate courses in astrophysics at Iowa State University in Ames. There, she met her husband, Jake, a medical physicist. When not talking about science, home life revolves around their adopted border collie mix, Kara. In her spare time, Liz also enjoys cooking and designing jewelry.

 

 

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Sarah Scoles

Associate Editor

Sarah Scoles became interested in astronomy at a young age, partly because she grew up 50 miles from Cape Canaveral, Florida, where sonic booms from space shuttle landings set off her home's security system.

After spending her childhood immersed in books both scientific and fictional, she attended Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, and majored in astrophysics. During the summers, she assisted with research at Arecibo Observatory, the Center for Astrophysics, and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, fully intending to go on to an astronomical graduate program. She took a creative-writing course during her junior year, however, and fell in love with both the artistic and problem-solving aspects of writing. She decided to pursue this new passion and attended Cornell University's MFA program in fiction writing.

Though she continues to write fiction, she is also interested in communicating science and making it accessible and interesting. With that in mind, after finishing her degree at Cornell, she became the public education specialist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, developing and implementing inquiry-based programs for students and teachers. There, she also co-founded the blog Smaller Questions, where she writes about astronomy research for a general audience.

It was in rural Green Bank that Sarah got a dog with too much energy and started trail running to ensure that they both got enough activity. Now, she and her dog live in the East Side of Milwaukee, where they are exploring new trails. In her other spare time, she enjoys reading and writing short stories, playing in the snow, and researching catastrophic weather phenomena.

Valerie Penton

Valerie Penton

Editorial Associate

Valerie joined Astronomy as editorial assistant in 2003. Her background is in office administration, and she brings many years of experience to her latest position.

She loves to travel, read a good mystery, flower garden and quilt. She and her cat Oliver visit a local nursing home on a regular basis to bring smiles to all. Because of her passion for animals, Valerie also volunteers at the Wisconsin Humane Society in Milwaukee.

She resides in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, with her husband, Dean, family dog, Sami, and several cats.

Chuck-Braasch_250

Chuck Braasch

Senior Graphic Designer

Chuck Braasch graduated with an associate's degree in commercial art from the Madison Area Technical College in 1997. After working professionally as a graphic designer in Madison, Wisconsin, for three years, he moved to Milwaukee, where he temped at various design firms in order to get a feel for what the city had to offer. This led Chuck to temping at Kalmbach Publishing Co. in the Ad Services Department, then officially joining the Art Department in January 2001. Over the next eight years and eight months, he worked on all of Kalmbach's publications (Astronomy taking up six of those years) short of the jewelry titles.

After that time, Chuck moved on to become Senior Graphic Designer for an equine magazine at a small publisher in Brookfield, Wisconsin, where he expanded my skill set and responsibilities. Three years and three months later, he returned to Kalmbach to strengthen his portfolio while applying his seasoned abilities to Astronomy and Garden Railways.

Since going to the theater with his parents to see the original run of The Empire Strikes Back when he was 4, Chuck has always been looking up to the stars and wondering about what's out there in galaxies far, far away. Since then, he has always been greatly interested in the search for life in the universe, whether it's through SETI's continual efforts, the Mars rover missions, or the pursuit of exoplanets in a habitable zone. String theory is also something that interests him, and Chuck finds it to be an entertaining challenge to wrap his mind around.

On a design related note, Chuck is amazed at how the quality and size of astronomical photography have improved throughout the years both on a grand scale like Hubble, but also on the amateur level. He says it's all making his job of creating beautiful and engaging layouts so much easier. It's also very inspiring and something he may pursue someday.

Other interests of Chuck include tinkering with the powerhouse PC he built, computer gaming, discovering new recipes to cook, and continuing the tradition of watching movies and reading books that inspire the imagination and fuel creativity. Realizing he should get out more, Chuck is also attempting to golf again after a 10 year hiatus.

Roen Kelly

Roen Kelly

Illustrator

Elisabeth (Roen) Kelly is responsible for many of the illustrations and diagrams in Astronomy magazine. She began work on the magazine in 1996.

She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Communications from the University of Toronto. The focus of the degree is medical/scientific illustration. She graduated with honors in 1993.

Elisabeth won the 2007 Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society Popular Writing Award along with Senior Editor Francis Reddy. The award was given for the illustrated spread "The Sun's biggest blasts," published in the December 2006 issue of Astronomy. She also received an honorable mention award from the Association of Medical Illustrators and was accepted into the 2007 Dr. Pascual International Medical Illustration show in Cáceres, Spain.

Jeff Felbab

Jeff Felbab

Advertising Sales Manager

Jeff's professional background includes more than 17 years in advertising and marketing in various media, including magazine, Internet, radio, and television with an emphasis on targeted niche publications and their websites.

As an advertising sales manager at Astronomy, his main focus is on the customer. Instead of just promoting advertising opportunities in the magazine and Astronomy.com, Jeff asks questions and obtains information on a business to determine what they would like to achieve with their advertising. With this information, he is able to tailor an advertising plan that helps the business appeal to the people they are looking to reach. Jeff finds it very satisfying to help businesses achieve the goals they have set for their company.

Jeff was introduced to astronomy about 25 years ago by his father. Jeff remembers when his dad pointed the telescope at Saturn and told him to take a look. Several years ago, Astronomy featured a few of his father's photos.

His other interests include enjoying the outdoors, boating, music and spending time with friends and family. When he have time, Jeff also likes reading books on philosophy, current events, and astronomy.

Ken Kozerski

Ken Kozerski

Advertising Sales Representative

Ken has sold print and online advertising for 25 years throughout the Midwest and for almost 10 years with Astronomy magazine and Astronomy.com. Astronomy is the world's best-selling astronomy magazine, and he's proud to be a part of it. He especially enjoys talking to interesting, creative, and inventive individuals and finding solutions that bring their products to market.

He graduated from the University of Wisconsin Green-Bay with a bachelor of science degree. He has a cat or two, flies kites when the wind is right, and likes to hike area trails.

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