Emission nebula van den Bergh 142 // photo by Tony Hallas
Here’s to a happy new year to each and every amateur astronomer in the world! 2013 has been a great year, but the following year seems to be shaping up to be even more exciting.
In early March, Ann Druyan, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and their Cosmos
production team will be presenting the second version of Cosmos
, Carl Sagan’s famous television program, on the Fox broadcast network, beginning on Sunday, March 9. That should draw an enormous audience worldwide and will, we hope, inject our hobby of astronomy with lots of new blood, something Comet ISON (C/2012 S1) failed to do when it broke apart near perihelion. (But thanks to everyone who bought my Cambridge book, COMETS!
, which was a general overview about the science, history, and lore of comets, and not about ISON specifically.)
The year will be exciting for many other reasons as well. Astronomy
magazine continues to lead the world with our brand of material for astronomy enthusiasts, with our print circulation holding steady — something of a good trick in this day of Gens X and Y staring at nothing but their iPhones. That has not been the case with our nearest competitor, such that we are now 57 percent larger in circulation — a whopping number. And the Astronomy brand continues to grow substantially on the Web and with social media, with 400,000 monthly unique visitors to our website and more than 410,000 Facebook followers. It is a huge new community of digital science enthusiasts out there, and we will be bringing you some fun surprises in the coming weeks.
Our first all-digital product, Cosmic Origins
, will consist of four parts that will be available on the Apple Newsstand in mid-February. This amazing package of interactive stories, illustrations, photos, and graphics, the brainchild of Associate Editor Liz Kruesi, will be like nothing you’ve seen before. And more digital-only products will be on the way.
We also will be working on a variety of special projects with several of our advertisers, with some explosive and fun things coming, chiefly in partnership with Celestron and Meade. Watch for some news flashes over the coming weeks!
The magazine will also be busy promoting our hobby at some amazing events here and there. On February 8, we’ll host a public star party at Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona, in conjunction with the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association, Pima Community College, and other groups. I’ll be speaking about comets there, and Michael Bakich, Mike Reynolds, Geoff Notkin, and other friends of the magazine will on hand as well.
April will see the magazine cosponsoring the Northeast Astronomy Forum in Suffern, New York, where I will be among the speakers and where I’ll announce the winners of our Comet ISON Photo Contest
, held in conjunction with the National Science Foundation and Discover
magazine. I’ll also be delighted to be sharing some space with Celestron at the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C., late that month.
We’re also doing some other activities with our sister publication, Discover
. Next week, January 8, we’ll jointly host a Google Hangout on exoplanets
, discussing the state of research and also following some breaking news on the subject rom the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington, D.C. Look for more of these hangouts in the future.
In May, I’ll be privileged to accompany readers of the magazine, along with MWT Associates, on a trip to the Atacama Desert in Chile
to see the greatest observatories of the Southern Hemisphere. That will be an amazing journey.
I’m also writing two books I hope you will enjoy. The first is 50 Years of Man in Space: The Starmus Lectures
, which I’m writing with Brian May and Garik Israelian and which contains amazing talks from astronauts, astronomers, planetary scientists, and biologists that constitutes the material from the 2011 Starmus Festival held in the Canary Islands. This incredible volume will be dedicated to Yuri Gagarin and Neil Armstrong and contains recollections of historic journeys by the likes of Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Alexei Leonov, Jim Lovell, Bill Anders, and others — as well as amazing scientific talks by a who’s who, including Richard Dawkins, Garik Israelian, Brian May, Joe Silk, George Smoot, Jack Szostak, Jill Tarter, and Kip Thorne.
It‘s really quite a project, and we hope to have it published and available at the 2014 Starmus Festival, to be held September 22–28, in the Canary Islands, where I will be participating along with Brian and Garik.
The second book, The New Cosmos
, is a volume I’m writing for Cambridge University Press and which will be submitted late this year and published in 2015. It is a huge project, and I’ll have more details to share about it over the coming months.
For a long, long time, I’ve been working on a Queen planetarium show, a concept that will tie together astronomical education with some blistering music from Brian, Freddie, Roger, and John, and I hope to have a big announcement about this very soon. Everyone is on board, and we’re simply waiting for the folks to work out the contracts. That will be a big event in the planetarium world. Stay tuned!
And this is but a taste — there are more surprises to come in 2014 as well.
I hope the coming year is everything you want it to be and that you enjoy the great wonders of the universe every chance you get!