- Astronomy Now
"Astronomy Now" is a monthly British
magazineon astronomyand is the UK's best selling astronomy magazine, featuring a mix of articles ranging from how to observe the night sky to the latest discoveries in the Solar System and in deep space. The magazine celebrated its twentieth anniversary in 2007, and the first issue of "Astronomy Now" was published back in April 1987 by Intra Press, initially as a quarterly publication, but its instant success led very quickly to it becoming a monthly publication. Today it is published by Pole Star Publications Ltd, who have been the publishers for over a decade. It can be found in all good newsagents, priced £3.25, or bought on subscription.
The first editor of "Astronomy Now" was Patrick Moore, who co-founded the magazine with original publisher Angelo Zgorelec, along with Dr John Mason, Dr Peter Cattermole, Dr Ron Maddison, Iain Nicolson and Art Editor Paul Doherty (the story goes that the magazine was conceived over dinner at an Indian restaurant in London). Subsequent editors have included Timothy Lyster, Fiona Gammie, Steven Young, Pam Spence, Paul Parsons and Stuart Clark. The current editor is Keith Cooper and the assistant editor is Kulvinder Singh Chadha.
Each issue contains a host of regular sections that form the backbone of the magazine. These include:
* "News Update", reviewing the important news stories over the last month.
* "The Night Sky" – at thirteen pages this is the biggest monthly observing guide of any UK astronomy magazine, with details of how to find the planets, deep sky challenges, double star of the month, "Moonwatch" by lunar expert Peter Grego, a section for Southern Hemisphere observers, a 'sky tour' and excellent star charts and graphics from Technical Illustrator Greg Smye–Rumsby. "The Night Sky" section was revamped in January 2006 and since then has gone from strength to strength as the best guide for observers, with other regular contributors including Martin Mobberley, Neil Bone (the magazine's Contributing Consultant), Owen Brazell, Tony Markham and the magazine's Night Sky Consultant, supernova-discoverer Mark Armstrong. In 2007 a 'Light Pollution Corner' was added, detailing advances in the battle against light pollution, written by Bob Mizon of the Campaign for Dark Skies.
* "Absolute Beginners" – Carole Stott's excellent two-page guide for newcomers to astronomy.
* "In the Shops", the magazine's reviews section where telescopes, binoculars, mounts, eyepieces and all other kinds of astro-paraphernalia are put through their paces by regular reviewers including Steve Ringwood and Ade Ashford. There is also a two-page book reviews section, including a regular interview with a book author.
* "Picture Gallery" – the impressive astrophotos submitted by the magazine's readers, with commentary on the 'picture of the month' by ace-astrophotographer
Nik Szymanek. There is also a regular section showcasing the work of the Faulkes Telescopes led by [http://www.dduggan.com Daniel Duggan] .
* "Society News" – The magazine has recently stepped up its commitment to providing news and information for astronomical societies in the UK. The section is compiled by Contributing Consultant Neil Bone, who has been with the magazine since the very first issue.
* "Tech talk" – Martin Mobberley's guide to overcoming technical problems for the hands-on observer.
* "Ask Alan" is the part of the magazine where readers get their astronomy questions answered by Dr Alan Longstaff, (a freelance tutor at the
Royal Observatory, Greenwich).
The articles in the magazine are aimed at both amateur and armchair astronomers, as well as being of general interest to professional astronomers. Examples of articles published in the magazine during 2007 include in-depth articles about water on Mars, choosing your second telescope, colour in astronomical images, the
Antikythera Mechanism, cosmic rays, observing asterisms and the results of the fly-by of Jupiter by the New Horizons spacecraft, amongst many other topics. In the August 2007 issue, the magazine featured articles celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of NASA's Voyager probes, with an exclusive interview with the Project Scientist on the mission, Dr Ed Stone. And, in another exclusive interview, the February 2007 issue included an exclusive interview with the NASA Chief Administrator, Michael Griffin.
Another notable set of articles can be found in the June and July 2007 issues, under the umbrella heading 'The Great Cosmology Debate', which presented a debate between four leading cosmologists about the state of cosmology itself, and where future research will take us.
As well as the five or six feature articles in each issue to go alongside the regular sections, the highlight of each issue is its 'Focus' section. Each issue the spotlight of the 'Focus' falls on a different area of astronomy and provides an in-depth look at that particular area, usually reaching between 11 and 13 pages in length. 'Focus' topics for 2007 have included Saturn's largest moon Titan, the Local Group of galaxies, alien volcanoes, exoplanets, climate change, asteroids, planetary nebulae, amateur astro-imaging, and relativity.
In addition to the twelve monthly issues of "Astronomy Now" per year, there are also occasional special issues produced by the publishers. To complement the monthly magazine, a Yearbook is also produced and released each October/November. Many of the special editions are produced on high quality paper, with perfect binding.
* "The Grand Tour of the Universe"Written by Keith Cooper, this is a 100-page journey from our planet Earth, past the other planets of the Solar System and out into deep space, to the farthest depths of the Universe. Lavishly illustrated with full-colour images from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, the Mars rovers, Cassini, the Voyager spcacraft and many other space missions, this is an easy, fascinating and visually stunning introduction to our Universe, with detailed information on each planet, moon, star, nebulae and galaxy presented within. "The Grand Tour" was released in autumn 2006.
* "Infinity Rising"This is author and astrophotographer
Nik Szymanek's stunning collection of pictures of the night sky. Half photography book, half guide to the art of astrophotography, there is something here for everyone, from those who want to follow in Nik's footsteps as an astrophotgrapher, to those that simply want to admire Nik's graceful images of galaxies, nebulae, the Moon and the various exotic locations and mountain-top observatories to which he travels to perform his art. "Infinity Rising" was released in summer 2005.
* "Exploring Mars"Written to coincide with the successful landing on the red planet by the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity in 2004, and including their first pictures, this pictoral history of man's robotic exploration of Mars still manages to catch the reader's interest even today. Deftly written by Neil English, "Exploring Mars" portrays Mars in all its dusty red glory.
* "The 3-D Universe"Scheduled for release in early 2008, "The 3-D Universe" is "Astronomy Now's" latest special edition and possibly their most ambitious. Featuring 116 pages of remarkable 3-D images of the Universe, many created from scratch by Technical Illustrator Greg Smye–Rumsby, and with commentary from Kulvinder Singh Chadha, each copy of the magazine will come with a free pair of 3-D glasses.
* YearbooksEdited by the editor of "Astronomy Now", and written by many of the magazine's regular contributors, the 132-page Yearbooks are released on an annual basis. They include a full observing guide for the full year ahead, plus a mix of interviews and articles on various aspects of astronomy, and are perfect for both beginners and the more experienced astronomer.
AstroFest is an annual exhibition and conference celebrating astronomy and space exploration, held by "Astronomy Now" magazine at Kensington Conference and Events Centre in west London. It is a two-day event, taking place over a Friday and a Saturday usually during the first half of February. A trade show consisting of dozens of exhibitors and telescope dealers covers three floors of the town hall. Visitors can meet the "Astronomy Now" editors and contributors and discuss the magazine with them.
The accompanying conference programme, co-chaired by
Ian Ridpathand Iain Nicolson, is held in the town hall's large lecture theatre and presents top speakers from the UK and overseas. Past speakers have included Ted Bowell, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, David A. Hardy, David Hughes, Rob Kennicutt, Jim Al-Khalili, Keith Mason, Fulvio Melia, Stephen O’Meara, Seth Shostak, David Southwood, and John Zarnecki. Allan Chapman is a regular speaker. The 2007 AstroFest saw the return of Sir Patrick Moore, along with Chris Lintott and Queen guitarist and astronomer Brian May to celebrate fifty years of Sir Patrick's TV programme, "The Sky at Night".
Speakers for AstroFest 2008 included comet discoverer
David Levy, special effects wizard Mat Irvine, Alberto Contiand Carol Christianof the Space Telescope Science Institute who helped create "GoogleSky", Eva Grebel of the University of Heidelberg, Tim Naylor of the University of Exeter, and David Rothery of the Open University.
* [http://www.astronomynow.com/ Astronomy Now Website]
* [http://www.astronomynow.com/astrofest/ AstroFest website]
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