FAU and South Florida PBS Partner for New Season of ‘Star Gazers’

Ata Sarajedini, Ph.D.

Ata Sarajedini, Ph.D.

By joshua glanzer | 11/19/2019

Ata Sarajedini, Ph.D., dean of the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science at Florida Atlantic University and scientific editor for the Journals of the American Astronomical Society, will serve as series consultant for “Star Gazers,” the world’s only weekly television series on naked eye astronomy since 1976, as the nationally carried public television show launches a new season with a new host on Sunday, Dec. 1. 

“‘Star Gazers’ is a unique opportunity for FAU to share our strengths as a research university in a way that benefits the community at large and opens up astronomy to everyone,” said Sarajedini. “We are grateful for this partnership with South Florida PBS and hope to expand upon it with future projects.”  

Each weekly episode of the signature South Florida PBS (WPBT and WXEL) series educates viewers about astronomical events for the upcoming week that can be seen without the aid of a telescope, including key constellations, stars and planets, lunar eclipses and conjunctions, along with historical and scientific information about these events. The popular astronomy series has continued in distribution from South Florida PBS (originally as WPBT) since the beloved original award-winning series hosted by the late Miami Space Transit Planetarium executive director Jack Horkheimer. Since Horkheimer’s passing in 2010, “Star Gazers”   has retained the spirit of accessible astronomy Horkheimer established, with the current hosts encouraging viewers to “Keep looking up!” at the close of each program.

“From the beginning, WPBT has brought ‘Star Gazers’ to public television in partnership with Miami’s top astronomers, and South Florida PBS (WPBT and WXEL) is proud to continue that legacy nearly 50 years on,” said Dolores Sukhdeo, South Florida PBS’s president and CEO. “We couldn’t ask for better support in this endeavor than Dr. Ata Sarajedini and the team at Florida Atlantic University, or for a more enthusiastic guide for our viewers than Trace Dominguez.”  

Sarajedini is a leading astronomer and researcher who took the helm of FAU’s College of Science in 2016 after serving as the associate dean for research in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a professor in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Florida. His research is focused on resolved stellar populations in local group galaxies, which include field stars, open and globular clusters in the Milky Way, the Andromeda galaxy, the Triangulum spiral galaxy, the Magellanic Clouds as well as numerous nearby dwarf galaxies. Sarajedini has served as a member of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope Time Allocation Committee and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope Users Committee. He has more than 180 journal publications to his credit and has received extensive research funding from NASA and the National Science Foundation.

New series host Trace Dominguez is widely praised as an award-winning and inspiring science communicator, content creator and curiosity explorer. His decade of work as a science educator includes the launch of one of YouTube’s first daily science shows among his dozens of popular online channels dedicated to discovery; the Webby-winning launch of a 360-degree camera on a weather balloon to the stratosphere; and co-hosted segments with former U.S. President Barack Obama during the White House’s Science Week. 

“If it's out there, I'm looking for a better way to understand it - and I’m very excited to join my new friends in public television for this adventure,” said Dominguez. 

The show guides viewers to search the skies based on visibility in the eastern United States, but viewers across the country in different time zones can still benefit from the short episodes that public television stations air either between regularly scheduled programming or online. In addition to the weekly briefs on current events in the night sky, the series includes evergreen segments about astronomical phenomena like black holes. The episodes may also be used as part of classroom teaching plans.

Major funding for “Star Gazers” is provided by The Batchelor Foundation; The William J. and Tina Rosenberg Foundation; and Trish and Dan Bell.