I must say it was a pleasure to open the latest issue of Astronomy magazine to find the 2008 Telescope Buyer’s Guide, a 20-page pullout written by Tom Trusock. Tom is a tribal elder at CloudyNights.com, and, as far as anyone knows, a Founding Father. He is also a prolific reviewer, an excellent writer, and the pullout is a keeper – informative, well-written and it sports an excellent layout.
As long as we’re writing about the magazine, I must say I’m pleased with the editorial direction and publishing format of Astronomy in the past few months. I’ve been a subscriber for several years, but they’re on Vol. 35 issue 9, which means they must have been in business since 1972, give or take. As a lapsed amateur astronomer, the only magazine I had ever known about, before the 2003 Mars close approach, was the even more venerable Sky and Telescope.
Based on what I expected of an astronomy magazine in college (when S&T was the only game in town), the modern Astronomy had, to my mind, seemed to exhibit too many tendencies to the cheap, sensational and attention-getting. Will an asteroid smash Earth to smithereens? P.26. POW! KA-BOOM! SHAZZAM! In this Issue!
Few I talked to agreed with me, but that was the way I saw it. The covers looked trashy. The articles were excellent, and I felt that that marketing folks were dragging down the respectability of the content. I even complained on their web site.
Maybe they listened. Reassessing my posture today, I realized the September cover was toned down, almost … respectable! The layout has changed while I wasn’t noticing, too … the pages are attractively formatted, easy to read for these old eyes, and printed on high quality, low-glare ultra white paper. Everything is easy to find.
With favorite columnists like Bob Berman, the writing is hard to beat. Buzz Aldrin is even on the board of editorial advisors. I have always enjoyed each issue for the technical content. Thematically, Astronomy and S&T have raced to out-do each other on super-catastrophes, but I wanted to learn a LOT more about Type I and 2A supernovae anyway. I have bad-mouthed Astronomy for their old tawdry ways in the past, but I take it all back. No telling what happened in each of their 35 years, but they currently have their act together. They’ve come of age.
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