Keep Looking Up

Star Gazer

Yesterday in Florida, Jack Horkheimer, the longtime host of “Star Gazer” on public television, died at the age of 72.

Horkheimer was the executive director of the Miami Space Transit Planetarium for three and a half decades.

He had no formal astronomy training, but with his trademark infectious enthusiasm, brought the wonders of the universe to millions of living rooms each week.

The show was cheesy and its graphics somewhat primitive, but in that predictable simplicity was the power to motivate people to get outside to see the stars.

Horkheimer had bronchiectasis, a respiratory ailment that had plagued him since childhood. He had a number of health conditions besides, and even in his preteen years, he contemplated suicide.

As a young man he went to Miami and began working as an unpaid volunteer at the planetarium. There he found his purpose.

In time he was able to beat his depression, and as his love of the heavens grew, he made astronomy accessible and understandable to the masses.

I don’t know what Jack believed about God after leaving his Catholic faith, but his show did a marvelous job of spotlighting the beauty of God’s creation.

At the end of every episode, after briefing us on what was going to happen in the night sky that week, Horkheimer would sign off with his catch phrase, “keep looking up.”

Not only was that phrase an encouragement to keep tabs on celestial events, but it reminded me of what Jesus said in Luke 21:25 and 28, “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars… when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Whether Jack Horkheimer meant to or not, his five minute segments on PBS always reminded me to keep my eyes on the sky in expectation of God’s deliverance.

As someone who slept outside a lot as a kid to watch the stars and gets giddy when the Perseids arrive every August, “Star Gazer” also reminded me that there are many others who share my love of astronomy.

Thank you, Jack, for choosing to overcome your many challenges to bring joy and wonder to so many others. We will, definitely, keep looking up.


Nothing truly stops you. Nothing truly holds you back. For your own will is always within your control. Sickness may challenge your body. But are you are not merely your legs. Your will is bigger than your legs. –Epictetus

©2010 H. Hiatt/ All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/

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