Bad Astronomy

Happy Anniversary, Universe Today!

This is what I get for reading my RSS feeds too late: today (as I still write this, barely) is Universe Today’s 10th anniversary!

Universe Today logo
Wow. It’s not an exaggeration at all to say I owe pretty much everything to Fraser Cain, who started UT. He called me out of the blue back in 2000, talking about ways to help each other. He started an advertising network before websites had ads, really, and while it didn’t last long there was a month or two there where the extra money really helped. Fraser convinced me to start a newsletter (also urged by Jeff Golick, the editor on my first book) and also talked me into eventually turning it into a blog. I still remember the conversation we had when he had to twist my arm into writing more than one blog post a day. Hard to believe, isn’t it?

Fraser and me in Canada, 2007
Fraser and I have one rule, and when he’s trying to talk me into something, he always says, “What’s the rule?”, and, wearily but resigned to the truth, I reply: “Fraser is always right.”

Because he is. He was always right there, just ahead of the curve of the web, always giving me advice, always wanting to help both of us. When we merged our bulletin boards into the Bad Astronomy/Universe Today forum, he was the driving force, and the one who did almost all the work (I’m fairly useless with such things and probably would have somehow set fire to the forum if allowed to run around unsupervised). He started the Carnival of Space, now nearing the 100th episode. He started the Astronomy Cast podcast, and asked me to partner with him. I was swamped with work, and regretfully turned him down. But hey, I told him, I know this awesome astronomer named Pamela Gay who is looking to do an astronomy podcast; you should talk to her.

I’m glad I got to repay at least some of Fraser’s monumental help to me with that.

Holy crap! I just remembered that it was at Dragon*Con in 2006 when Fraser and I met George Hrab together, too. Wow. That’s where I met Derek and Swoopy in real life for the first time, too. Fraser’s been around for a lot of world-changing web-based events for me.

One of the hardest decisions I have ever made in my life was to move to Discover Magazine, because it meant I couldn’t do a lot of the stuff Fraser and I had always done together.

And yet we are still doing things together. We’ve gone to professional astronomy meetings and live-blogged them (and shared more than one hotel room together, too). He’s visited me IRL, and me him. We don’t chat nearly as often as I’d like, but we’re still there for each other.

Fraser, for everything you’ve done for me, well, thanks. Universe Today is a monster success, one of if not the biggest and best astronomy news sites on the web. It’s popular because it deserves to be, well-designed because Fraser wouldn’t have it any other way, and still a great read because he’s involved.