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Periodical Profile:  Sky Gazing Magazines

The nights are getting a little longer now, but they are still warm enough to enjoy spending time outdoors for long periods.  What a perfect time to introduce kids to the joy of star gazing before school starts and bedtimes have to be enforced again.  We have two great magazines in our reading room for star gazers of all levels, from amateurs to professionals:  Astronomy and Sky & Telescope.  Both magazines have sky charts, well-written articles, space news reports, tips on observing the sky and fantastic photos.  The September issues are on the shelf now.

Astronomy “is one of the most popular astronomy publications among casual sky watchers.” A feature in the September issue is their second annual listing of Star Products.  “The 35 items in this year’s Star Products constitute the most innovative astronomy gadgets and gizmos on the market today,” writes contributing editor, Phil Harrington.  For stargazing news, September 25, 2011 is a special observing date:  “Uranus reaches opposition at 8pm EDT.  This marks the peak of the planet’s visibility in 2011.” And have you heard of the zodiacal light?  Dust particles still orbiting the sun, called meteoroids, reflect sunlight and create an ethereal glow.  Otherwise known as the zodiacal light, Astronomy reports that this spectacular show can be seen in the eastern sky for about two hours before dawn.  The best time to view is during the last week of September when the moon is not present and the sky is at its darkest.  The kids might have to miss the live show, but perhaps you can take pictures for them. 

In that case, check out Sky & Telescope.  One of its focuses is sky imaging, with a regular column offering tips on astrophotography equipment and techniques.  But primarily, Sky & Telescope is known for being a leader in “providing accurate and up to date information on astronomy and space science” since it began publication in 1941.  The September cover story is about NASA’s Juno Mission, which “will give scientists their first in-depth view of Jupiter’s deep interior.  … The $1.07 billion Juno orbiter will investigate the planet more thoroughly than any previous spacecraft,” the magazine reports.  Readers will find book reviews and an annual listing of organizations, institutions and businesses related to astronomy in addition to the expected articles, news, sky gazing tips and sky calendar.

Astronomy and Sky & Telescope are attractive, well written, engaging and informative magazines that novices and seasoned sky gazers can learn from and enjoy.  You can find them in the reading room filed alphabetically.  Past issues of magazines are behind/under the shelf and up to six at a time can be checked out. 

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