January 12, 2004
The marketplace of astronomy information is about to be transformed by the debut of a magazine unlike any now available. Night Sky, which mails to charter subscribers on March 26th and hits newsstands nationwide on April 13th, is designed especially for entry-level stargazers — those who possess very little astronomy knowledge but still want to enjoy and explore the heavens. Whether it's guidance for naked-eye star-hopping or advice on how to put new telescopes to good use, Night Sky aims to be the perfect resource for novice "backyard astronomers."
Each colorful issue of the new bimonthly will provide readers with uncluttered, easy-to-use star charts and illustrations; a calendar of celestial events visible even from light-polluted cities; a how-to section for telescope owners; jargon-free science and hobby information; overviews of telescopes, accessories, books, software, and other astronomy products; and a gallery of stunning astrophotos taken by stargazers around the world.
"We've lined up some noteworthy contributors," says Kelly Beatty, editor of Night Sky and himself an expert with 30 years' experience writing about astronomy. David Levy, known worldwide for his comet-hunting achievements, is writing a preview of two naked-eye comets, NEAT and LINEAR, which should be widely visible in May 2004. And Phil Plait — astronomer, teacher, lecturer, all-around science junkie, and webmaster of the popular Bad Astronomy Web site — has been tapped to pen a regular column called Straight Talk, a mix of debunking misconceptions and explaining astronomical phenomena.
Night Sky hails from Sky Publishing, whose award-winning monthly, Sky & Telescope, has been serving amateur astronomers since 1941. According to the company's president and publisher, Susan Lit, "Night Sky magazine reaches out to a different audience than Sky & Telescope — it will have broader appeal by virtue of the fact that its content will be accessible to anyone just getting started in the hobby."
"Clearly, there is an interest out there for this kind of approach," observes Marcy Dill, Sky Publishing's vice president of marketing and business development. "Millions of telescopes are sold every year, and last August untold thousands of people waited in long lines at observatories for a close-up glimpse of Mars. But if you're new to astronomy," she adds, "the magazines currently on the market can make the hobby seem daunting. We are confident that Night Sky's fun and approachable style will give everyone a chance to actively participate in this awe-inspiring hobby."
Night Sky will provide the information beginners need to make smart purchasing decisions, and many advertisers are eager to come aboard, including all the major telescope manufacturers. "Our market research demonstrates that entry-level practitioners have the interest, time, and money to invest in the hobby," notes Ms. Lit, "and these consumers often spend thousands of dollars on their first telescope, which is great for manufacturers and dealers."
Night Sky will be sold on newsstands for $3.99 per copy and by subscription for $17.99 for one year (six issues). Curtis Circulation Co. of New Milford, NJ, will handle newsstand distribution. For more information, see the magazine's Web site at NightSkyMag.com.
Sky Publishing Corp. was founded in 1941 by Charles A. Federer Jr. and Helen Spence Federer, the original editors of Sky & Telescope magazine. The company’s headquarters are in Cambridge, Massachusetts, near the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. In addition to Sky & Telescope and SkyandTelescope.com, the company publishes two annual magazines, Beautiful Universe and SkyWatch, and an annual wall calendar called Celestial Wonders, as well as books, star atlases, posters, prints, globes, and other fine astronomy products.