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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 8:19 pm 
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Location: Manchester
Dear al(L)
Some years back I often bought a few astro mags on a monthly basis. Some important gen was of course repeated much the same in all the different mags. Now my only practical astronomising is related to the Sun, which the mags rarely seem to say much about. So for some time now I've been ringing the changes buying different but fewer mags. This month I opted to get Sky@Night which I hadn't bought for several months. Shock -Horror, S@N was over £5 !!!
But I kept my cool moved to a different mag shelf and perused the mags about my other interests in life, and so instead of S@N I bought TGO -"The Great Outdoors" mag (mountains, walking, camping & adventure). Although I'm a bit passed doing that really now (?).
Whatever, these days some amateur astronomers seem keen to observe the night sky from dark sites and some of the best places in the UK are in hilly or even mountainous locations. The March TGO has a few articles that might interest some such amateur astronomers eg "A night on Glyder Fach" & "Magnetic Anomalies" magnetic interference where compasses give inaccurate readings - NO it is not about compasses stored in Cliff's pocket (that's my trousers).
Best wishes from Cliff


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 10:08 pm 
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Location: New Farnley, Leeds lat 53.8N long 1.6W
Glad you said that about magazines Cliff, I am the same. I rarely buy 'em these days and when I do I'm disappointed at the price, the low quality of the content and the lack of what I might call human interest. I bought one of the UK astronomy mags to read on a long flight last year and frankly it was boring, even though it was edited by a "name" in amateur circles. I find more interesting astronomy related articles in travel mags where people have a story to tell. One guy travelled into the Ozzy outback and took a stunning image of the southern dark sky. Later he motorcycled to Alaska to catch the aurora and got some great shots. Best wishes Bob


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:53 am 
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Location: Portslade, Sussex Lat 50deg 51min Long 0deg 13mins West
I presume that you have seen and answered the survey on the SPA site here concerning "jazzing-up" the Popular Astronomy mag etc. regards maf


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2017 12:29 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 10:48 am
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Location: Derby
I have mentioned previously how Sky and Telescope is a shadow of it's former self. Back in the seventies (when I were a lad) trying to find a magazine to fan the flame of the amateur astronomer in me,S&T appeared in places like W.H.Smith. While today's mags. have much better production values I find only about half the 80 to 100 plus pages of interest. The information devoted to the monthly night sky can be found in many other places in the internet age and becomes repetitive after a year or so. Pages devoted to multi-thousand pound equipment pushing is overdone in these straightened times and I feel the blanket coverage of imaging is also. Images produced by amateur astronomers can be stunning and worth appreciating for what they show and fully deserve to be in astronomy mags. but their production is more to do with computer processing and photographic techniques than astronomy - perhaps worthy of their own magazines.I prefer astro. mags. to tell me what's happening in the sky not my laptop screen. Popular Astronomy is of course the exception, being readable front to back.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2017 1:58 pm 
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Location: New Farnley, Leeds lat 53.8N long 1.6W
I agree with absolutely everything you say Parkins. And, Popular Astronomy is the only Astro magazine I am satisfied with. Yes Mike, I've completed the survey! On a different issue, one out of London meet per year would be nice. Bob


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2017 2:15 pm 
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Location: Lancashire
As regards "Sky & Telescope", in the old days the magazine had a lot to offer for DIY buffs. I recall one article showing how to make our own binoviewer, using first-surface mirrors, at a time when manufactured prismatic viewers were too expensive for many skywatchers.
I made my own mirror-type binoviewer along S&T lines ( with some improvements ) and I still use it today. It gives good views of the Moon, but it isn't as bright as the WILLIAM OPTICS prismatic binoviewer. The homemade binoviewer was fun to make on the kitchen table. :D

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2017 2:29 pm 
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Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2004 8:18 pm
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Location: Manchester
Dear Bob, Mike and Steve AND Brian,
Bob, I was interested in your comments. If the modern monthlies were a more reasonable price I might buy more of them, especially if they had a bit more about the Sun - even though they inevitably all repeat some information.
Mike - must admit I haven't given the SPA Popular Astronomy mag survey any attention - not because I don't like the SPA mag, but because I don't like "surveys" in general -one of my many personal quirks. By the way excuse me being pedantic, but I nearly mentioned Popular Astronomy in my original post but then realised it's a bi-monthly so was excluded from my ranting specifically related to monthlies. Plus PA is significantly cheaper than S@N.
Steve, I think we are on a similar thought wavelength. And I also have mixed feelings about some pictures displayed in monthly mags.
Brian (your post apparently was made just as I was ending making mine !)
Arguably those were the days, I doubt it is really worth making home-made tackle nowadays (?)
Best wishes from Cliff


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2017 8:09 pm 
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Location: Manchester
Dear Mike
I HAVE A BONE TO PICK WITH YOU.
A comment you made above (just previously) "have you completed the SPA survey?" although I think not specifically pointed at me personally - struck one of my nerves. So I decided to actually have a go at the survey myself. As I expected I did not like some of the survey questions, but after thinking more, I eventually completed all the questions (or nearly all - on realising that if I missed answering any questions I couldn't proceed further.
My slow inputting (because I did put some serious thinking into my survey answers) took at least 15 minutes not 5!). However, right at the very end the final requirement "Registration" is something that goes against my grain. I thought about the matter (another 5 minutes wasted), then dropped out of survey.
Best wishes from Cliff
PS if Popular Astronomy continues in most ways that I think it has since I joined the SPA I think it will be OK with me. But I DO NOT LIKE SURVEYS.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:00 pm 
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Dear Cliff,
Neither do I.

Regards,
David


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 9:06 am 
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Hi Cliff,

The "Create Your Own Survey" page is not part of the SPA survey. Its part of the software that was used to run the SPA survey - prompts to create your own survey are a common part of software products that run on-line surveys.

By the time that you've reached this page, you have already completed the the SPA survey.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 11:05 am 
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Location: Portslade, Sussex Lat 50deg 51min Long 0deg 13mins West
Sorry to annoy you Cliff. I would like to add that this was issued by
" Professor Tim O’Brien (President) On behalf of the SPA Counci " and attached to SPA Newsletter 51. regards maf


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 11:42 am 
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I do not object to surveys if specifically aimed at improving a particular "service" or "produce" that I already use and buy, and it is a sensible course of action for any society, rather than let the "user" simply get even more a more fed up and finally giving up and go elsewhere. regards maf


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 9:00 pm 
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Location: Wellingborough
Dear Cliff,
you are right, it's not just astro magazines that can provide useful info for astronomers. I remember following instructions in a 1973 "Scientific American" to build a variable-frequency 12-volt input, 250volt "square-wave" ac output oscillator to drive synchronous clock motors for telescope drives. I used this with a clock motor and a home-made RA drive based on a ex-WD gunsight mechanism to mount an 8-inch SCT made by Peter Drew. This setup served me well for about 13 years. I often wondered if I'd get a shock from the 250-volt output but never did, in spite of some nights in the early 80's when the frost was so thick that my eyelashes froze to the eyepiece :shock:

Edit: sorry should have said "Scientific American". Text now corrected :oops:

Regards,

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2017 10:57 am 
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Some would disagree with Cliff in saying that astronomical DIY might not be worthwhile these days. There's a creative satisfaction in making our own kit that doesn't come with off-the-shelf stuff.
Some ATMers ( Amateur Telescope Makers ) with well-equipped workshops are producing instruments that are optically superior and more aesthetically pleasing than mass produced stuff.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2017 8:39 pm 
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Cliff, Brian & others:

The £5 price-tag is about average for news-stand hobby magazines more generally these days - say 50p or so either side of that overall. The cheaper options generally tend to have more advertising, but this has been the case for many decades now. Prices will almost certainly be rising again this year due to increased costs following Sterling's slide since last June, of course. You can sometimes find better deals if you take out a subscription, particularly an electronic-only version, but I know that latter doesn't suit everyone.

As for content, it's certainly true that the amount of DIY content has generally fallen over the decades since the 1970s particularly, and again this is a point visible in places beyond astronomy. Partly, it's because there's far more available to buy off-the-shelf now than was ever the case in the past, partly because the keen enthusiasts who advocated DIY activities have moved online to blogs and websites, etc., where printed page counts don't apply, nor image quality (or editorial interference with "prized" text, though this is not always so beneficial!), and where, should you choose, you can even post videos. Harder to locate too than a column in a printed magazine, but that's "progress" for you...

Have to say that I never found S&T all that appealing back in the early 1970s (when they too were advertising wonderful telescopes - mostly Maksutovs back then - for hundreds to over a thousand dollars a time), as even then, it didn't always have much about what was going on in the sky. Mind you, back then in NE England north of the Tyne, the only W H Smith's was a tiny shop in the Central Station in Newcastle that didn't carry such delights, so it was only on my first visit to Jodrell Bank in about 1973 I actually saw S&T for the first time. It wasn't the cheapest magazine in those days either, I might add!


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