Tammy Plotner Has Passed Away

I just got the word that one of our writers, Tammy Plotner, just passed away after a long struggle with MS.

Here’s a message from Mike Romine, from the Richland Astronomical Society:

Hi, I’m Mike Romine, the current president of the Richland Astronomical Society, at Warren Rupp Observatory, in Mansfield, Ohio.
This email is to inform you, and I hope you’ll pass it along to your readers, that Tammy Plotner passed away Feb. 11, 2015. Her longtime battle with MS finally took it’s toll.



Tammy was the first regular contributor to Universe Today. She started with me in 2004, reporting on what amateur astronomers might see in the night sky using an archaic WebTV to write and send in her stories. When she started, Tammy was… rough. She was enthusiastic, but very wordsy and needed a tremendous amount of editing. But her enthusiasm for the night sky was infectious, and over time, her writing tightened up; wordiness became poetry that described the night sky in amazing detail and made you drag your scope out into the darkness for just a peek.

In 2006, Tammy took things to the next level for us and wrote an actual book. We called it What’s Up 2006: 365 Days of Skywatching. We offered it as a free PDF book, and it was downloaded hundreds of thousands of times, and purchased in print form. We did another edition in 2007, and then Springer continued the franchise with Tammy directly.

Tammy continued to write for me off and on until just a few months ago. She would disappear for a few months at a time, and I eventually discovered that was because she was suffering from MS. It was making it more and more difficult to get on with the basics of life, let alone set aside the time to write about astronomy.

Our senior editor Nancy Atkinson said she learned a lot from Tammy: “I was honored to work with Tammy and her articles were a joy to read. She had a unique but professional perspective on the latest astronomy news and she relished the chance to share new findings with her readers. We will miss her expertise and her endless enthusiasm, and she will be greatly missed in the astronomy community.”

I never met Tammy, that’s the curse of living our lives online. We build relationships with people through email messages and chat, but we can go a decade working side by side and never meet in person. That makes me sad. I should have made the effort to hang out with her.

Farewell Tammy, thanks for everything. I’m sorry for your struggle, but I’m grateful for how much you taught me about the sky, and I’ll keep on sharing it with anyone who’ll listen – just like you did.

New Book: Night Sky Companion 2012

For those of us interested in the night sky, what could be better than having an astronomer for a friend? Well, how about if that astronomer friend has written a book detailing everything you can see in the night sky for every night of the year?

Universe Today’s very own Tammy Plotner has written that book, and it’s called “Night Sky Companion 2012.” Inside, you’ll find information on meteor showers, planetary alignments, lunar features, deep sky objects, eclipses, transits and more. Tammy has written the book in her unique conversational tone (well known to UT readers!) and provides all the information you’ll need – for those just looking up with their own eyes to those using binoculars or even larger telescopes.

Tammy’s book is available on Amazon in both print ($19.99 USD) and Kindle ($4.99) formats.

“Night Sky Companion 2012” has nightly information for both northern and southern hemispheres, and the book provides coordinates, basic star charts and realistic illustrations to help you find what you want to see, every night of the year.

Tammy is no stranger to writing books, as she has written several night sky guides over the years (see the complete list here). And of course, she is an award-winning astronomer, too!

“The ‘Night Sky Companion 2012’ is not just about finding objects in the night sky,” says Tammy, “ it teaches you both the science and history of what you’re looking at. How far away is that star? How deep is that crater on the Moon? What comet caused this meteor shower? It’s like having an astronomer as your best friend… One that’s with you every night!”

For a preview of the book, use the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon.com.

Join us in congratulating Tammy on her new book!