Universe Today Turns 10

Article written: 23 Mar , 2009
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
by

Hey everyone, I just wanted to inform you of a little anniversary. I started up Universe Today exactly 10 years ago today, on March 23rd, 1999. Since very few of you know the actual story of Universe Today, I thought I’d regale you with it on this 10-year anniversary.

I was living in Vancouver at the time, working as a project manager in an Internet company. We were helping clients develop websites, but I felt that I didn’t have enough personal experience developing and maintaining a website to really give good advice. I was thinking I should run a website on the side about a topic I was passionate about… but what subject?

On one business trip I stopped at a Barnes and Nobles, browsed through the books section and picked up The Case for Mars by Bob Zubrin, and Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan – I gobbled them up, front to back in a single sitting. I had always been interested in space and astronomy, and was out every clear night as a teenager with my 4″ telescope. I realized that this was the topic that I was most interested in, and I was excited enough about the subject matter that I could keep the website going with my busy job and total lack of spare time.

oldestlogoI started brainstorming domain names; unfortunately space.com was taken. I started mashing together spacey names with other words, and then checked to see what was available. In the end, Universe + Today was open, so I went with that. I hacked together a site with my terrible HTML skills and even worse graphic abilities, but I knew that the purpose of the site would be the articles updated on a daily basis.

Here’s a link to the Wayback Machine to show you what the site used to look like. And here’s a link to the first article, reposted in WordPress.

My goal for Universe Today was to teach myself about space and astronomy… by teaching others. Each day I went though all of the breaking news, wrote a quick summary, and then linked out to the originating sources. And this was how things went for years and years. Over time, I learned more and more about space and astronomy, and was able to put this knowledge back into the website. I covered lunar eclipses live, interviewed astronomers and astronauts, and eventually learned how to write longer and better articles.

The website’s traffic and number of subscribers continued to grow. About 3 years ago, the advertising revenue from Google and other advertisers was enough that I could work on Universe Today full time – thanks to a hardworking wife who understands that we need to do what we love to be truly happy (she works in a toy store). Over the last few years, I brought on a team of writers to help get the news out faster and better than what I was doing alone. I’m indebted to Nancy, Ian, Nick, Tammy, Mark, and our newest team member, Anne.

10 years from when I started Universe Today, we’ve now got almost 45,000 RSS subscribers, and receive close to 2 million page views a month. I’m able to pick the brains of an astrophysicist twice a week with our Astronomy Cast podcast. I’ve met professional astronomers, astronauts, and Nobel laureates. I’m a member of a wonderful community of space bloggers, and call many of them my best friends.

It’s funny how a hobby can turn into so much more.

Who knows where we’ll all be in 10 more years? I know what I’ll be doing, though – working on Universe Today; covering the New Horizons close encounter with Pluto, the launch and first images from the James Webb Space Telescope, and reporting on astronauts returning to the Moon.

I can’t wait to tell you all about it.


106 Responses

  1. George Brickner says

    Congrats!

    Funny thing, in the TV series Babylon 5, the newspaper was called “Universe Today” as a spoof of “USA Today.”

  2. Member

    Oh wow! This is amazing! So happy to be on board this great space adventure with you Fraser ๐Ÿ™‚

    To the next decade!

    (Is it too early to *volunteer* to cover New Horizon’s fist images of Pluto’s surface? ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

    Cheers! Ian

  3. Luis Saldarriaga says

    Happy birthday Universe Today. Be sure yours is the first web page I consult every day.
    My best wishes.
    Luis_S

  4. Davin says

    Congratulations on the great journey Fraser and happy anniversary!

  5. watchful stone guardian says

    I’ve been a fan since a buddy of mine pointed me in your direction about three years ago. Now I read the site every lunch hour.

    Keep up the good work!

    wsg

  6. Todd Coolen says

    Well done. Congratrulations…. and thank you,

    Todd

  7. Thanks for sharing the story, Fraser, and happy anniversary! I’m sure glad you had this great idea!

  8. BrianV says

    What a great story!

    I wish you well for the next 10 years of Universe Today. It’s a great resource for those of us interested in astronomy and space.

    -Brian

  9. Sofista says

    10 years up and running it’s a lot of time… and work.

    Congrats!

  10. Maugrim says

    Thank you for bringing us this awesome site – here’s to another 10 years!

  11. DrFlimmer says

    Happy Birthday from a new reader ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Sci-Fi Si says

    Congratulations Fraiser! You dersrve success, thank you for this site apart from google this is the website I visit most often ๐Ÿ™‚

    It’s good to hear you’re well again and I’m looking forward to the next 10 years of Universe Today too.

    Happy Birthday Universe Today! Yay!

  13. Fst says

    Congrats for 10 years of great work !!!

  14. For legal purposes, I want to make it clear that I’ve never heard of this “Babylon 5” show you’re talking about. I’m sure if I did watch it, I would consider it one of the best science fiction television shows ever made; assuming I’d ever heard of it or watched it. Which I haven’t.

  15. This is great, Fraser! Thanks for sharing this with us, and happy birthday to UT!

  16. Jon Hanford says

    Congrats, Fraiser and may UT live long & prosper. Your site was one of the first I regularly frequented for accurate astronomical info. Keep up the good work and kudos to all the contributors to this column!

  17. Tom says

    Congratulations!
    Even better that you can make this your “real” job. I wish I could do something like this. I guess I’ve kind of started by being a JPL Solar System Ambassador, president of the local Astronomy club, have a backyard observatory with 12″ Meade out there, Collection of a bunch of autographed books, models flown artifacts…and I recently started a blog page (click my name). Total space geek, but my job is secured by Microsoft and their problems. CTL-ALT-DEL, reboot and tell me if it does it again. (But I go home to Ubuntu, since I know better!).

    Tom

  18. Helio George says

    Congrats Fraser! I greatly enjoy the combination of this site (for the latest news) and forum (to learn more about related things). Just SUPER!!

    BUT, I want more….
    It’s been 10 years. How ’bout some highlights from a fellow amateur?

    What is your…
    top things learned
    biggest surprises
    most comical
    most concerning
    favorite event
    etc.

  19. Wolter says

    Congratulations and keep up the good work.

  20. Adrianus V says

    Fraser, happy birthday! I love to read your news about astronomy and spaceflight.

  21. Salacious B. Crumb says

    Well done! Still great articles and up to date information.
    A valuable resource.
    (Wonder how “you know who” will bring the EU- Electric Universe / Plasma (whatever) into it?)

  22. Joe says

    Congratulations and happy anniversary UT.

    I love the stories and especially the comments keeps me going throughout the day. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Joe.TO.

  23. Wylie says

    I found UT 3 years ago and love it. Thanks for your passion. HAPPY BIRTHDAY UT!

  24. Geoff Gould says

    Thanks so much for the brilliant daily images, stories, and ability to be often first with breaking scientific news – always an eagerly awaited part of my day….

  25. Jesper says

    Congratulations to everyone involved in making Universe Today, and thank you for all the interesting articles!!

  26. Max says

    Happy anniversary, and heres to many happy returns!
    *Cheers*

  27. Paul Jackson says

    Congrats from a new reader. I just found this site last week after I found the Astronomy Cast podcast.

    Keep up the great work ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. Andy F, UK says

    Congratulations on the big one zero. Universe Today is a great site, I visit at least a couple of times/week. It’s all you need really. Astronomy Cast is excellent podcast – one of my three weekly astro staples. Well done, thanks, keep up the good work Fraser.

  29. Member
    Nicholos Wethington says

    I can’t believe Universe Today is 10! Congratulations, Fraser, on creating such a wonderful site. And many thanks for allowing me to be an admittedly small part of it. As Ian said, to the next decade!

    ~Nick

  30. Kevin F. says

    Ten years!

    Congrats!

  31. Layman says

    This is a great site- I have only been following it for a month and I can truthfully say that I have learned something new everyday. Good Job Sir!

  32. Rob says

    Congratulations, Fraser. Your work here and on astronomycast is much appreciated.

  33. IVAN3MAN says

    For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.– Carl Sagan

    Ditto!

  34. Congratulations and happy anniversary UT.

    I love the stories and especially the comments keeps me going throughout the day
    Here in Kutch (India) when we did not get information easily UT played great role kipping us up dated

  35. RCSI says

    Happy Birthday UT!
    Looking forward to the next 10 years of news coverage from this wonderful site.

  36. Jarod says

    Happy Birthday Universe Today! Thank you for all the great times that ive had on this site and also all thegreat information ive recieved from you. Looking forward to many more years!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  37. pantzov says

    this has been my homepage for probably about 7 years.

    happy 10th b-day kid ๐Ÿ™‚

  38. Congrats Fraser! And thanks for providing 10 years of coverage for us space geeks! Heres to hoping that you will be around for another 10 years (hopefully by then you’ll have your own news channel ๐Ÿ™‚ )

  39. Dominion says

    Happy Anniversary! Such a great site. Thank you.

  40. Bret says

    Thank you!!!

    ~]3

  41. Polz says

    Thanks for the effort… Its appreciated

  42. Anna Mae says

    Thank you! Your site and your podcast have greatly enriched my days.

  43. Fraser says

    Congratulations, Fraser … maybe in the next ten years the Americans will start pronouncing our names properly ๐Ÿ™‚

  44. Sancho says

    Happy Anniversary! Long may UT continue.

    Yours is one of the first sites I recommend when making suggestions to what people can see on the web. Brings home how many big discoveries are still happening when people think the days of exploration are long over.

  45. Ken says

    Thanks to the great articles here, and the podcast, I rekindled my childhood interest in astronomy.

    So I bought myself my first telescope … a 10″ LXD75 Schmidt Newtonian.

    Meade should give you kickbacks!

    Now if only you could make my neighbours close their curtains and turn off their outdoor lights!

  46. Sofia says

    Happy Anniversary ๐Ÿ™‚

  47. Malfunky says

    In my eyes, you’re doing a public service with this site. Congratulations, and here’s to tens of more years.

  48. Victor says

    Thank you so much!!!!

  49. Martin Mooney says

    I am 76 and I know where I hope to be in 10 years, reading U T
    Thanks ever so much

  50. Didi says

    Thanks Zubrin, Sagan…. AND Fraser!
    Keep on!
    Great stuff!
    Clear skies and open minds.

  51. Abhivansh says

    Congratulations and Happy Anniversary!!!

    And thanks to ur team and specially ur wife who understood u well enough to let u continue with UT, in turn helping me keep one of my childhood passions alive.

    It was really good to know how it all started.

    PS : Newspapers in India use ur articles word to word as news so ur reaching a lot more ppl than 2 mill. ( in delhi alone ) ๐Ÿ™‚

    And also thanku for my GMail account ๐Ÿ˜‰

  52. Adarzh says

    I’m glad that i finally found a cool place like this. Even though I was fascinated by skies and stars, i was wandering here and there to find a space, so that i can learn about them. I truly believe that search is over.

    I wish you a Happy Anniversary to Universe Today

  53. Luke Garratt says

    Congratulations on 10 years of excellence. Check the site every day, and appreciate the coverage you and your writers provide and the insightful (and sometimes not so insightful!) comments by my fellow readers.

    Who knows, maybe in 10 years time you might have had your own trip to space to report on!

  54. Clament says

    Gong Xi Gong Xi (Congratulation) to UT, to load up your page has become one of my daily life in addition to email and other stuff like friendster/ facebook. Although currently not afford to own a telescope, space books together with your webpage, has turned out to be my invisible telescope to view the galaxy world outside there.

    In additional to Abhivansh from India, news paper from Malaysia, too, occasionally pick up your news for public view, and recently issue is the “Earth Hours'” on the coming Saturday!

    p.s: remember to turn off your lights ^_^

  55. Keith says

    Brilliant site! It’s the first port of call when I log on. Here’s to the next 50+ years.

  56. Jan Mulder;Netherlands says

    Congratulations; keep going! Universe today is the first one I am looking at when starting up mu pc.

  57. Benudhar says

    Happy Anniversary “UNIVERSE TODAY”.

  58. Phil-B says

    One day too late but…

    Frazer, congratulations, happy anniversary and… thanks!

  59. Helen Martin says

    I must have found your site near the very beginning of it and have enjoyed it ever since! I did not know the date when the site started, however, I do recall that I was reading it in the spring of 1999!

    Thank you for your countless hours of hard work and for helping me to stay informed about my interest!

  60. Vino says

    Hi! i think you left one more thing we will be doing 10 yrs from now….probably have a base in another planet….and we will be right along with you reading your wonderful posts and banging our heads to find the answer to where in the universe…
    Congrats to you and your team!!
    Happy Anniversary to Universe Today!!

  61. Rafael says

    Hey Fraser, keep it going. ๐Ÿ™‚ Feliz aniversario.

  62. Sriram says

    Congratulations, and thanks a lot man… Great Site ๐Ÿ™‚

  63. Happy anniversary, Fraser, and greetings from the far american south.

    ยกSigue adelante! … and I’ll keep on with my translations ๐Ÿ˜‰

  64. SoulJay says

    Grats from Portugal!

  65. Sergio says

    Congratulations, and many thanks for your passion.

  66. Sheila Capistran says

    And thank you for doing so, Mr. Cain. We have so enjoyed it.
    From Ada, Minnesota

  67. Dave says

    Hey, Fraser.

    What you’ve built in the last 10 years is simply amazing. I fire up my email first thing every morning, and without exception, the first thing that I read is my copy of Universe Today. I also love the podcasts with Pamela. (I burn them onto CD and listen to them during my commute to work.)

    In 10 years…? I”m guessing you’ll be doing live coverage, like Nasa TV, of launches, press conferences, interviews with leaders of space agencies worldwide.

    Keep your dream alive, Fraser!

  68. 3rd Rock says

    I can’t believe UT is 10 years old! I started visiting the site after a friend showed it to me at the beginning of the year 2000. I did not realize I’ve been reading and learning from UT since nearly the beginning! Great work, I love this website for all the information that it has taught me!

  69. Feenixx says

    Happy Birthday, and thanks for this most delightful site, from a relatively new regular reader.
    ๐Ÿ™‚

  70. Julia says

    Congratulations Fraser! Keep it going. We love it!

  71. Bob Clarke says

    Reality is the universe! Congratulations Fraser for this major contribution. You enlighten all of us. Please know we appreciate it and very best for the next ten.

  72. Frances says

    Hi Fraser

    It’s only about two years since I caught up with you, but I’m so glad I did. What you’re doing is fantastic. You really communicate the excitement of astronomy – here’s to the next 10 years.

  73. Simon Douglass says

    Gday Fraser

    Thankyou very much for your hard work over the past 10 years. I think I’ve read at least 50% of your articles in that time! Keep up the fantastic work mate!

  74. Greg says

    Well done, Frasier. Keep up the good work.

  75. RickE says

    It’s true what they say . . .

    The astronomy business is “looking up.”

    Congratulations.

  76. shlog says

    Hi Fraser-

    MAZELTOV! You are a Star! Why aren’t you on TV yet?
    Keep up the good work!

    Shlog ๐Ÿ™‚

  77. Marius Munteanu says

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, “dear” Universe Today !…
    You are the BEST astronomical ezine on the Net !!!
    LA MULTI ANI !…. [ … from ROMANIA !…. ]
    ๐Ÿ˜€

  78. Krusty Da Clown says

    What can I say, my startup page in firefox!
    Keep up the good work!
    Greetings from Stockholm
    Krusty

  79. alphonso says

    Happy Birthday, Geezer!!

    Keep up the good work!!

  80. Member

    Hi Fraser,
    You have shown that the Universe is really “a happening place” daily. Congratulations on a decade of service. Keep it going!

  81. Sultan says

    Congrats from Guyana. Keep up the good work!

  82. Dankwa says

    Thanks so much for sharing your story, Fraser. Ever since I found UT somewhere last year, it became part of websites I visit daily. Oh, and AstronomyCast is also fantastic. I have listened to almost every episode.

    Here’s to another 100 yrs of Universe Today.

  83. JasonD says

    Congratulations on the first decade of Universe Today!
    Hopefully many more will follow!
    Found you by chance at beginning of this year and what a fantastic site you have created! Keep up the great work!

  84. Emma says

    all i can say is if it were not for ur site i would never have been as interested as i am now, nor did an astronomy course in university ……….You will never know how much you have changed peoples lives for the better, just from a website. Keep up the good work

  85. Lisa K says

    Congratulations, Fraser!

    And thanks for a โ€œlinkโ€ to my Dad! Years ago I forwarded him an installment I thought heโ€™d enjoy. He asked me to send more. I said, โ€œDad, you can subscribe yourself.โ€ He replied that I should just send them on when Iโ€™m done reading them. Ah, my quirky Dad, I thought!

    Much later it occurred to me that this is Dadโ€™s way of staying in touch, on a daily basis, with his little girl (little, as in 50 something โ€“ LOL!)! Dad quickly became one of your biggest fans, btw!

    Thanks again! And here’s to another 10 years of UT!

  86. Jess says

    Happy tenth birthday, Universe Today! Congradulations, Mr. Cain.
    ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  87. stuwat says

    I’ve been an armchair astronomer since I was a kid and it is thanks to Universe Today and Astronomy Cast that I’m still up to date with all the latest space and astronomy news. I first subscribed to the newsletter – and later the RSS feed – back in 2002, and my enthusiasm for the subject continues to grow with every news article and podcast you post. Thank you Fraser and thanks to all of the Universe Today contributors.

  88. mike says

    GREAT SITE! I read every one of your abbreviated stories and quite a few of the expanded stories and blog comments. Best wishes for the next 10 years. MOK

  89. Emil Orlic says

    Happy B Day! Did you know that a show Babylon 5 had a news paper called Universe Today. I thought that you got the name from that show. All the best, I love the site and Astronomy Cast

  90. Ryan says

    Congrats! I think I found your site way back then on Yahoo!’s “Pick of the Day” news letter they used to put out. Even got my gmail account from you. Also remember the time you accidentally emailed out your whole subscriber list (whoops!) and ensuing apology. Anyway, still enjoy the newsletter and see it popping up as links to articles on more and more sites.

  91. Cate Coyne says

    Have ten years passed already? Congratulations, Fraser on Universe Today’s 10th Anniversary. It’s been fantastic and I look forward to receiving it every day. I like the personal touch every so often, too, like “meeting” your wife and learning of the birth of your two children. (Unless you added one recently!) Your move was interesting, too. So, keep it up. May the future hold only wonderful things for Universe Today, you, and your family.

    Cate

  92. elfofgod says

    Thanks, Fraser, for forming this wonderful way to learn and keep up on astronomical news! Many, many THX!

    May God save and bless you.

  93. paul w. green says

    Great job Fraser!
    Good to know that you and Michael F. and Stuart all did well.
    Paul

  94. Eduardo says

    Thanks!!!
    Thanks!!!
    Thanks!!!
    Thanks!!!
    Thanks!!!

  95. smajli says

    Congrats. Great job. For me one of the best space sites. Simple and what you need to know. To the years to come!

  96. Pat Donnelly says

    Well done!
    Here’s to another decade and another and another!

  97. CodyG says

    Great work! Thanks for the last 10 years. I wouldn’t miss UT for a day.

  98. Eivind says

    Great site! Thank you very much, also for Astronomycast.

    Greetings from Norway.

  99. Lionel Ward says

    Congratutions Fraser!

    I love your site, I’ve been reading it for at least 3 or 4 years now on a regular basis so am obviously a fan of your writing style

    Keep it up – it’s inspiring to see people put in sustained effort over such a long period – excellent!

  100. Barrie Blough says

    Congrats and Happy Anniversary Frazer!

    Thanks to Nancy Atkinson for tuning us into this website and space in general.. Love it!

  101. Bravehart says

    You deserve a lot more than kudo’s
    A job well done, let hope you will continue
    for 10x more! My thank’s must extent to Mrs. Cain for sharing Fraser with us! That are a lot of hours and your family deserves our thanks
    to! Thanks to all of your writers who give me
    pleasure every day with UNIVERSE TODAY!

  102. Jose says

    Congratulations! I’ve been a member for a long time as well, I’d say at least 9 years since I remember signing up back when I held my first ‘real’ job, from 1996 to 2001. May the next 10 years bring fascinating and exciting discoveries and I too look forward to seeing the James Webb Telescap image incredible new scenes as well as America going back to the moon!

  103. Jose says

    *Meant ‘telescope’ in the previous message, it appears I cannot edit the message.

  104. Member
    DFord says

    This is by far my favorite space site. The little time I have to spend on the web combined with my sparactic ADD lets me get caught up on all the latest space news. Good Job and good luck-Wait, Who are you again?

  105. B. Burton says

    You have done a fantastic job the past 10 years especially considering it started with you learning how to create web sites. Your understanding of astronomy and space technology written in language even a “dummy” like understands is a real talent

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