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Sky & Telescope, June 2019, Pages 22 & 23

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#1 SomebodyElseEntirely

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Posted 15 May 2019 - 11:24 PM

It's no fun being negative about things. So, on this matter, I have valiantly resisted making comment. But, in the end, I simply can't help myself.

 

These days, the magazine has half the page count it had when I first started buying it in the 1970s. But it gets worse. Look at what passes for content these days. We have here, on pages 22 and 23, a double page spread of utterly useless “art.”

It is said that a picture tells a thousand words. Not in this case. The “art” conveys absolutely zero information. And it's not even pretty. What's the point of it, other than to take up space? Nothing to read, nothing to enjoy, just two pages that deserve little more than a picosecond or two of one's time. They want us to pay for this?

 

And look at what follows. Content replete with text boxes in garish colours! Exactly the sort of thing that disgusts me in modern textbooks. So showy, so little substance. Dumbed down.

 

Yeah, ok, I know, S&T has been doing this for years now. This example was, for me, simply the straw that broke the camel's back, at least in terms of posting a comment.

 

If you think I'm passionate about all this, you're right. I grew up with S&T. When, as a teenager, I bought my first ever issue, I could barely understand a thing. Right ascension? What, in Heaven's name, is that? And this Hertzsprung–Russell diagram, what does it mean? Reading S&T was a bit of a struggle for me, but only at first, and it was fun, and I was learning, and I had huge respect for the folks who put that magazine together. And it was great to see the magazine actually getting even better over a number of years. Those days a gone. They still do some things well, but there is so little of that now. Alas.


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#2 Neptune

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Posted 15 May 2019 - 11:35 PM

I used to feel the same way. I think that instead of dubbed down, maybe we wised up as time went on and the things that made us go hmmm now only make us go ho-hum.

David



#3 ngc7319_20

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 12:14 AM

Reminded me of this other thread...

 

https://www.cloudyni...-11-bankruptcy/



#4 SomebodyElseEntirely

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 12:17 AM

I used to feel the same way. I think that instead of dubbed down, maybe we wised up as time went on and the things that made us go hmmm now only make us go ho-hum.

David

Yeah... I did consider that way of looking at things. Perhaps I'm being unfair? But, no, one can look back though issues of S&T and see that they've become much more like Astronomy magazine, which I never liked.

 

Besides, I'm not sure that I'm actually wising up. smile.gif

 

(Seriously, if I look back through the stuff I was doing at university, my brain is nowhere near that level now.)


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#5 SomebodyElseEntirely

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 12:19 AM

Reminded me of this other thread...

 

https://www.cloudyni...-11-bankruptcy/

True. Beating a dead horse. Please forgive me.



#6 otocycle

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 01:12 AM

Well, to be fair to Astronomy Magazine, it was launched in the early 1970's to be "the most beautiful astronomy magazine" and purposely devoid of the much richer technical content and scholarship of S&T.

 

Back in 1971, my junior high school librarian was going to dispose of 10 years worth of unbounded S&T "periodicals" when she remembered that I was one of the few students that ever read them.   She offered them to me instead of throwing them away, and I still have them. 


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#7 SomebodyElseEntirely

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 02:50 AM

Well, to be fair to Astronomy Magazine, it was launched in the early 1970's to be "the most beautiful astronomy magazine" and purposely devoid of the much richer technical content and scholarship of S&T.

 

Back in 1971, my junior high school librarian was going to dispose of 10 years worth of unbounded S&T "periodicals" when she remembered that I was one of the few students that ever read them.   She offered them to me instead of throwing them away, and I still have them. 

I agree that we should be fair to Astronomy magazine. There is nothing wrong with its approach. It's just not appealing to me.

 

Regarding your high school story: Looks like there are clear advantages to occupying a niche. smile.gif

 

Now that I think about it, I cannot think of another single student at school who shared my interest in astronomy. Photography, yes. A whole lot of other stuff, sure. But not astronomy. What can ya say?



#8 otocycle

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 03:38 AM

I don't know why a junior high school library would have a subscription to S&T in the 60's or 70's, but I do remember the librarian staff being quite proud of the available reference materials for all students, including bound encyclopedia(s), newsprint microfiche archives, and "periodicals", which included titles like S&T, Scientific American, National Geographic, and many others.

 

If one was savvy enough to understand the continuing page numbers and S&T topic index, it was possible to get access to older issues/content tucked away in magazine holders.

 

My favorite section each month was Gleanings For ATM's....to this day I do not understand why "ATM's" used the possessive form.


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#9 opticsguy

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 08:40 AM

The world changes and we can be either positive or negative about life around us.  

 

I still subscribe and enjoy both magazines, yes less content, but times are changing. The world is changing and very very rapidly,  The world is changing more rapidly now than anytime in history and the rate of change is on the increase.  Thus our favorite magazines are changing, must change just to stay involved in our world and the astronomical world.  

 

I will challenge anyone to stop complaining and work to contribute towards a better world and better magazines.  Have "you" (anyone here) ever contributed to either magazine in terms of writing a news story or an interesting article, or some special and memorable observation, or your stories about seeking out and observing some very interesting and challenging object in the nights sky?  What is your story and can you share with others?  

 

Thank you to Sky and Telescope for 52 years of great reading and exploration and also to Astronomy since it's beginning. You have provided me with a lifetime of exploration and thought and more.  

 

Thank you.


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#10 Alex_V

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 08:58 AM

What is on those pages?

I don't have subscription.



#11 SomebodyElseEntirely

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 09:26 AM

I don't know why a junior high school library would have a subscription to S&T in the 60's or 70's, but I do remember the librarian staff being quite proud of the available reference materials for all students, including bound encyclopedia(s), newsprint microfiche archives, and "periodicals", which included titles like S&T, Scientific American, National Geographic, and many others.

 

If one was savvy enough to understand the continuing page numbers and S&T topic index, it was possible to get access to older issues/content tucked away in magazine holders.

 

My favorite section each month was Gleanings For ATM's....to this day I do not understand why "ATM's" used the possessive form.

My school library was also impressive. I particularly liked Scientific American (an excellent magazine in those days). But, as opticguy said above, times change. A decade after I left, if you had walked into the library, you would have found the shelves stocked, instead, with Cosmopolitan, Cleo, Vogue, etc. Publications of inestimable educational value. Apparently.

 

I, too, loved Gleanings for ATM's. I have never built a scope. And I almost certainly never will. But I loved it anyway.

With regard to that title: It appears that it has become common usage to include an apostrophe when forming the plural of an acronym. I don't like it one little bit. I usually avoid it by simply avoiding acronyms. When I was in school, all of my teachers (and I do mean all of them) railed against acronyms, and we simply were not allowed to use them. I see merit in that.

Anyway... with regard to that column, what I found unforgivable was not just the fact that it became progressively much shorter and devoid of detail (alas, no more optical prescriptions, for example) but seeing it conclude with the statement, "For more information, please visit [some website]." Really? You give us mere crumbs, and then refer us to a website that may not even exit in a week or a month. I'm paying a subscription for this?

 

Sorry. I must stop.



#12 SomebodyElseEntirely

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 09:30 AM

What is on those pages?

I don't have subscription.

It's a double page "painting." I'm out of my depth when it comes to describing art. Perhaps someone else could help out in that regard. The point is that it serves no purpose — it simply takes up two pages. 



#13 George N

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 11:47 AM

It's a double page "painting." I'm out of my depth when it comes to describing art. Perhaps someone else could help out in that regard. The point is that it serves no purpose — it simply takes up two pages. 

I disagree. The pages in question provide an artistic interpretation of the article to follow -- it is the title page to the issue's main 'scientific' article (or one of them).

 

The article covers one of the enduring issues in Cosmology and Astronomy -- the disagreements over the value of the Hubble Constant -- and the apparent poor chance for any solutions soon.

 

It shows - top half - a very artistic interpretation of the expanding universe -- and bottom half -- again a very 'artistic' view of professionals in deep thought at a major conference.

 

The article Title and subtitle info - is placed between the two halves - on one page.

 

The whole thing is meant to convey an 'emotional lead' into the article - which, while interesting, did of necessity get a little dry at times.



#14 George N

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 12:12 PM

BTW..... I was quite pleased with the June S&T.... one of their better recent efforts.

 

Two 'science' articles - Hubble Constant and Type Ia supernova 'standard candle' issues

Article on the 'Dawes Limit' aimed at developing your own value - it even references Sidgwick's 'Amateur Astronomer's Handbook'.

Visual observing article on pushing the envelope on seeing detail in face-on spiral galaxies (one of my fav targets - as a big Dob owner, dark sky observer, and imager)

One more great Sue French article

Tom Dobbins article on observing Jupiter

New 'Dark Sky Park' article

Great imaging article about guiding (written by a friend) - I've been doing CCD since 1993 - and I learned something from this article

ATM article about building a bino-newt using 3-D printing tech - while ATM'ing is not the hot topic it was, it is nice to see people pushing into new ways of doing things.

Dennis di Cicco review of Meade's Deep Sky Imager IV camera

Last page -- finding something in plain sight -- a bright-ish Mira variable embedded in the Dumbbell (new to me) - just waiting for folks to notice - blink all those old images - compare your old drawings!

More.....

 

What more could you want for a monthly 'general' astronomy magazine?

 

It is no longer 1970 -- the worlds of both amateur and professional astronomy have moved on. Just go to a major star party - WSP, TSP - regional star parties like Black Forest -- How many folks there would be interested in an ATM article on grinding mirrors? Half the people are imaging with SCTs or APOs - and many of the rest have 8 to 12 inch commercial Dobs - with DSCs or GoTo. They want to know how to use Sky Safari or similar to control their scope - not see a list of targets.

 

You can't expect the mag's to still look like they did in 1970.


Edited by George N, 16 May 2019 - 12:18 PM.

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#15 SomebodyElseEntirely

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Posted 17 May 2019 - 12:41 AM

BTW..... I was quite pleased with the June S&T.... one of their better recent efforts.

 

Two 'science' articles - Hubble Constant and Type Ia supernova 'standard candle' issues

Article on the 'Dawes Limit' aimed at developing your own value - it even references Sidgwick's 'Amateur Astronomer's Handbook'.

Visual observing article on pushing the envelope on seeing detail in face-on spiral galaxies (one of my fav targets - as a big Dob owner, dark sky observer, and imager)

One more great Sue French article

Tom Dobbins article on observing Jupiter

New 'Dark Sky Park' article

Great imaging article about guiding (written by a friend) - I've been doing CCD since 1993 - and I learned something from this article

ATM article about building a bino-newt using 3-D printing tech - while ATM'ing is not the hot topic it was, it is nice to see people pushing into new ways of doing things.

Dennis di Cicco review of Meade's Deep Sky Imager IV camera

Last page -- finding something in plain sight -- a bright-ish Mira variable embedded in the Dumbbell (new to me) - just waiting for folks to notice - blink all those old images - compare your old drawings!

More.....

 

What more could you want for a monthly 'general' astronomy magazine?

 

It is no longer 1970 -- the worlds of both amateur and professional astronomy have moved on. Just go to a major star party - WSP, TSP - regional star parties like Black Forest -- How many folks there would be interested in an ATM article on grinding mirrors? Half the people are imaging with SCTs or APOs - and many of the rest have 8 to 12 inch commercial Dobs - with DSCs or GoTo. They want to know how to use Sky Safari or similar to control their scope - not see a list of targets.

 

You can't expect the mag's to still look like they did in 1970.

Yes, I agree that it would be unreasonable to expect the magazine to continue to look like it did in the 70s.

 

I did, in fact, say that Sky & Telescope actually became even better over a period of many years. Yes, change is good, as long as it's change for the better.

 

Why are so many of us are passionate about this Sky & Telescope matter? I think it's because we are instinctively drawn to excellence, whether it be in art, literature, music, architecture, industrial design... And we are saddened when we see things descend from truly excellent and admirable and noble to merely pleasing (as you describe the June issue).

 

I hope I'm not coming across as rude — please understand that I don't see my views as the only valid views. I do think it's wonderful that you and many others enjoy the magazine. At the end of the day, you've got things better than me, because you are in a happier frame of mind. smile.gif

 

Truth be told, it does little good for old folks like me to be complaining — it won't change a thing. But at least it lets us get some stuff off our chests, and it lets some other old folks know that they are not alone in how they feel about things.


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#16 Pat Rochford

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Posted 17 May 2019 - 03:14 PM

These days, the magazine has half the page count it had when I first started buying it in the 1970s. 

I'm holding the January 1970 issue in my hand right now … the last numbered page is 70.

 

The last numbered page of the January 2019 issue is 84.


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#17 SomebodyElseEntirely

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Posted 17 May 2019 - 05:18 PM

I'm holding the January 1970 issue in my hand right now … the last numbered page is 70.

 

The last numbered page of the January 2019 issue is 84.

I'll take your word for it and consider myself corrected. Just goes to show you should never trust an old person (well, at least not this one). smile.gif

 

A somewhat lame attempt to salvage my reputation:

 

I did say that the magazine continued to improve for many years. The page count did rise substantially. I pulled out one issue at random and found 142 pages. I think I remember reading in another thread that the page count had peaked at 160 or some such number. Perhaps that's what I had in mind when I posted comments about the page count in the "good ol' days." smile.gif



#18 Crusty99

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Posted 18 May 2019 - 04:35 PM

Lot of discussion over the two pages. I like the two pages.


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#19 mich_al

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Posted 20 May 2019 - 08:55 PM

FWIW I have 2 'old' issues of S&T near, July 1999 & July 2003 157 & 151 last pages numbered.



#20 spereira

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Posted 21 May 2019 - 07:50 AM

FWIW I have 2 'old' issues of S&T near, July 1999 & July 2003 157 & 151 last pages numbered.

BeatingADeadHorse.gif

 

smp


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#21 Tony Flanders

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Posted 21 May 2019 - 05:20 PM

We have here, on pages 22 and 23, a double page spread of utterly useless “art.” ...
And look at what follows. Content replete with text boxes in garish colours! Exactly the sort of thing that disgusts me in modern textbooks. So showy, so little substance. Dumbed down.


Intriguing! For what it's worth, I found this one of the most interesting and well-written articles that I've read for several months.

The substance of the article is that different ways of measuring the Hubble constant (expansion rate of the universe) yield very different results. Methods based on cosmological considerations, such as the structure of the Cosmic Microwave Background, yield low expansion rates, and methods based on actual distance measurements yield higher rates. Within each clump of measurement methods, the results are quite consistent, but the two clumps have non-overlapping error bars. Obviously, there's some hidden assumption that's incorrect.

It's almost impossible to explain all these measurement methods in detail to a layman -- even a well-educated layman like me. That's particularly true for the CMB-based methods, which can't be understood without some really fancy math. I think the author (Govert Schilling) does an exceptionally good job of explaining them by analogy in relatively non-technical terms.

 

The subject lends itself to text-box presentation, where the main article presents the big picture and the text boxes focus in on the details of the different measurement methods. Trying to linearize the text would not be a favor to anyone.

 

It seems to me that the OP's criticism is not in fact about the text at all, but rather about the illustrations and layout. To be honest, I'm not crazy about the shade of red chosen for the text boxes either; I would have chosen a less deeply saturated color. But then, I'm an editor, not a layout artist.

 

As for the lead illo, I have mixed feelings. I'm not sure it's 100% successful, but I do kind of like it. And I'm darned if I could suggest anything better for an article with such an abstract subject. It's easy to illustrate articles about (say) galaxy structure. But how do you draw a picture of an expanding universe?

 

As for the existence of a large lead illustration for feature articles, that's a choice that Sky & Telescope made many decades ago. It's true that in the really old days -- in the 50s and early 60s -- there would have been either no lead illustration at all, or the lead illo would have been very small. The page count in those days was significantly smaller than it is today, and the magazine was printed in black and white. But that's a whole different world, for better or worse. I don't see any way to go back to it.


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#22 turtle86

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Posted 21 May 2019 - 06:05 PM

I really enjoyed this past issue.  As a Dob owner, I found the article about observing face-on galaxies to be very informative. I also thought Govert Schilling’s article was exceptionally well-written and informative.  Maybe a one-page lead illustration would’ve sufficed (though the illustration otherwise cleverly captured the idea of a symposium on the subject) and maybe a less garish color could’ve been used for the text boxes, but I think those are pretty small nits to pick.  Rejecting S&T altogether for stuff like that is really throwing the baby out with the bath water in my book, when it seems clear enough that S&T delivers on the content. 


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#23 ianatcn

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Posted Yesterday, 09:43 AM

I have now read the June issue from cover to cover ... And it isn't even June yet! Waiting for my next fix.

 

I thought that the issue was up there with the best from recent years and an excellent mix of practical and theoretical topics covered.  Keep up the good work S&T!


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#24 George N

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Posted Today, 09:05 PM

I have now read the June issue from cover to cover ... And it isn't even June yet! Waiting for my next fix.

....

I'm at least going to print out the table of face-on spiral galaxies and chase them down at Cherry Springs Star Party next week.



#25 Toups

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Posted Today, 09:25 PM

....

 

My favorite section each month was Gleanings For ATM's....to this day I do not understand why "ATM's" used the possessive form.

Actually this was not a possessive form. This is a very interesting case of dueling style guides!  At one point the apostrophe, at least in some style guides, was a preferred method of forming a plural from an acronym.  See for example, https://brians.wsu.e...nd-apostrophes/ but this usage has fallen from favor.   See https://blog.apastyl...postrophes.html for a style guide that considers the apostrophe wrong for forming plurals.  There are other style guides that are more ambivalent on this usage.

 

Yes the "Gleanings for ATM's" was a great section.


Edited by Toups, Today, 09:25 PM.



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