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Editorial Commentary

Our goal at Cloudy Nights is to assist amateur astronomers in better understanding
the equipment that goes with the hobby. We strive to accomplish this goal in
three ways.

  • by providing a forum for reviews of telescopes and accessories

  • by providing a forum for commentary articles on the many facets of the
    hobby that touch equipment

  • by encouraging and sponsoring events and contests to get kids and beginners
    interested in the hobby

For most amateurs the decision of which telescope to purchase is a difficult
and expensive one. We wish to ease this decision by providing a forum for
reviews and commentary
articles. Each amateur is different and has different needs and requirements.
Part of the education process for an amateur is discovering what their needs

are. While one amateur finds that instrument A is perfect for their needs,
another amateur may not. Which fits your needs (and is therefor the "best")
is for you, the individual reader to decide.

Objectivity Vs Fair-handedness

Cloudy Nights takes the position that writing a truly objective review is impossible.
By the simple decision to measure one variable and ignore another, the review
has become subjective. Only through the laboratory testing of the same set
variables for every review on Cloudy Nights could we begin to approach an "objective"
review. However, even if this were feasible, I doubt most amateurs would find
it interesting.

What I propose is the concept of "fair-handedness" in evaluation.
Strive in an honest way to show both the good and bad points of a product and
resist the urge to over emphasize one or the other. If one product doesn't measure
up to the performance of another more expensive product, insure you mention
this so the product exists within an economic context. Strive for a balanced
review that meets the goal of helping your fellow amateurs.

A Few Words on the Star Test

Amateurs and professionals alike have debated the utility of the star test in
evaluating optics. Proponents of the star test feel it is an invaluable tool
that will illuminate any optical flaws a telescope may have. Skeptics of the
star test feel it is a specialized tool best used by qualified and experienced
people for the purpose of answering specific optical questions.

Cloudy Nights takes no stand on this issue. We politely request those authors
wishing to include star testing results in their article to ask themselves two

1. Do I truly understand the star test and feel confident in my results?

2. How are the results pertinent to the readers - in other words what question
are you answering by including your star test results?

Opinions Matter

The number one request Cloudy Nights receives from readers is for authors to
state their opinions in their articles. As you review a product or write a commentary
don't be afraid to state your thoughts. Tell folks what you think and how you
arrived at those thoughts. You experienced/used/are knowledgeable on the subject
of your article and your opinion matters to folks reading it. Do them a favor
- tell them what YOU think. Just insure you state it in a manner so it's clear
it's your opinion and not some sort of fact.


How to Submit a Review

We ask all submissions to agree to some simple guidelines:

  1. Tell us about your general geographic location, years experience, # of scopes
    owned and biases you may have.

  2. No editorial changes will be made to an author's contribution without their
    consent. We may at times ask authors to clarify a section but will not interfere
    with the actual content.

  3. Authors are asked to be fair-handed, a process that we understand can be
    painful for a proud owner. Please tell the readership both the good points
    and compromises that were made. Don't pull any punches; tell it like it is.

  4. Comparative reviews are especially welcome. Showing how one scope/accessory
    stacks up against another gives the content a sense of context.

  5. We request that no "pre-production" instruments or accessories be submitted
    for review.

Multiple Reviews

Cloudy Nights is particularly interested in posting multiple perspectives on
the same telescope or accessory. Each of us has our own biases and experiences,
which mold our opinions of different instruments. To be 100% objective is truly
impossible and perhaps is rather uninteresting to read. The key to deciding
which author is "right" is really a decision about which author shares
your unique philosophy of viewing and optics. In other word, which author do
you identify with the most, or keyed in on certain variables that you find important.
To this end we would like other owners of already reviewed scopes to step forward
and share their experiences with us.

Additionally, multiple reviews show trends or certain variables all the authors
mention or agreed upon. This lends validity to the variables in question and
ultimately helps the reader reach his/her own conclusion. Articles where the
authors diverge in their results should not be viewed with any additional skepticism
then any other article posted. Such articles merely reflect the honesty of the
authors (they stated what they saw, not what others expected) and should serve
as a reminder that all articles are inherently subjective. Here the readers
should key in on how the authors reached their separate conclusions and decide
which author's perspective they identify with most.

Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics