Some people hustle pool,
Some people hustle cars,
Then there's that man you've heard about,
The one who hustles stars...
Jack Horkheimer, Star Hustler!
--original show introduction
Astronomer Jack Foley Horkheimer's five-minute weekly shows on naked-eye astronomy are a fixture on American PBS stations, complete with Jack's familiar tan Members Only jacket and the theme music "Arabesque #1" by Claude Debussy performed by Isao Tomita. The shows are made available for free to TV stations, teachers, and anyone else who wants them from his web site, despite the work that goes into creating the special-effects-laden shows for WPBT2 in Miami, Florida.
Horkheimer is a self-taught astronomer; his degree is in drama. He started out as a volunteer when the the Miami Space Transit Planetarium opened in 1966, and worked his way up to becoming its executive director. The planetarium's success owes a lot to Horkheimer's outreach and showmanship. People outside the Miami area know of him because he has hosted the show originally titled "Star Hustler" (now "Star Gazer" because they wanted to avoid Internet searches leading to Hustler magazine and similar non-astronomy-related topics) since 1972. He's a founding member of the International Planetarium Society, founding co-editor of "The Planetarian" and past editor of "Southern Skies". He funds an award for young (under 19) astronomers who have given service to the Astronomical League. He even organized the first supersonic Halley's Comet chase aboard four Concorde airplanes. Basically, this man will do just about anything to advance and to popularize astronomy.
In January 2001, an asteroid was named after Horkheimer by the International Astronomical Union of Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has been the narrator for CNN's coverage of several eclipses, and makes appearances on talk shows fairly regularly. All this has probably made him one of the best-known living astronomers. Horkheimer won't publicize his age, but he's already written his own epitaph, based on the sign-off of his shows, "Keep looking up!"
Keep Looking Up!
Was my life's admonition;
I can do little else
In my present position.
Added 21 August 2010: Jack Horkheimer died on Friday, 20 August, 2010, at the age of 72, from respiratory problems. (He had bronchiectasis
, a degenerative lung
disease, his entire life; a 1982 Miami Herald
article said that he needed to sleep on an inclined bed, his feet lower than his head, so that the fluid in his lungs would "settle to the bottom" and not suffocate him.)
and years of watching the show after Doctor Who went off.