From the Editor

Have You Looked Up Lately?

By Wendy O. Dixon, Editor 

Why is Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” his most famous, well-loved and replicated painting? It certainly is my favorite. This brilliant piece of art, with the exploding, radiant stars swirling about in the night sky, captures the awe of the heavens, despite deep despair in most of the troubled artist’s life.

Van Gogh painted “The Starry Night” while in an asylum and probably had no windows from which to view the night sky. With his imagination, van Gogh looked up, and in the moments he was sweeping the canvas with his brush strokes, I can only imagine that he was reaching out to God.

Sometimes, when my two sons are rowdy, the dog is barking, the phone is ringing, and every TV in the house is blaring, I have to escape … to my backyard. There’s something relaxing about being outside on a clear night to gaze up at the stars and just … look. On nights like these, I mentally disconnect from my computer, cell phone and TV. Have you noticed that in order to get the best view of the stars, you have to block out all the other light around you? It’s like you’re getting rid of all the hindrances, physically and mentally, to get the full benefit of the sights to behold.

Did you see the total lunar eclipse back in February? On that cold, crisp night, my husband and I decided it was a worthy excuse to let the kids stay up late on a school night for this rare occurrence. We all gathered outside snuggled in one big blanket to see the moon dramatically change from white to orange, then deep red and finally back to its normal tinge again.

Lately, you’ve heard about all the recent discoveries in space. Astronomers found half of the universe’s missing mass, two new larger-than-Jupiter planets and billions of new galaxies. Photos from the Hubble Space Telescope reveal that the universe is so crowded, scientists estimate there are about one trillion stars for every person on little planet Earth! NASA’s Phoenix Lander successfully landed on Mars to uncover the mysteries of the red planet. And a group of  “backyard astronomers” is credited with finding a new planet that, at about 15,000 light years away, is one of the most distant planets ever discovered.

If you’re a stargazer, an amateur astronomer or you just want to see some fascinating planetary and deep space photos, check out our feature “Starry, Starry Nights.” The discoveries these backyard scientists have made, along with the spectacular photos, will inspire you to venture on to your own backyard tonight.

As your new editor, I’m thrilled that our magazine is a part of your Emerald Coast lifestyle. I would also like to introduce you to our new associate editor, Ashley Kahn. Our mission is to scout the road ahead of you to highlight the wonderful opportunities in this great part of America. There’s much to love, and we’re sure you’ll find some out-of-this-world ideas to make your Emerald Coast life even brighter. If you know something we don’t, write to me at I want to hear about your great ideas for the magazine.