Society for Popular Astronomy

Astronomical monthly magazines
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Author:  Cliff [ Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Astronomical monthly magazines

Dear Brian (Lancs)
We all have our own opinions on these matters based on our own experiences.
I would not entirely be surprised to hear that some Amateur Telescope Makers make superior equipment to the mass produced stuff now available. But I suspect many of these relative few ATMs have excellent workshop facilities.
However, the average amateur astronomer probably has little chance of attaining such levels of making gear. I also happen to be acquainted with an excellent telescope maker (though not a rich man!). If I remember correctly he actually made 50 telescope mirrors up to 24inch diameter. From what I gather going back 10 to 15years or so when there were some really rather poor telescope makers which had been the case for quite a long time although a few were good.
I gather a real improvement happened with the introduction of interferometers, which I think are quite expensive and not many ordinary amateurs are likely to buy such devices. I gather one chap bought a 16inch mirror £3,000 !
which he wasn't happy with. My acquaintance checked it out and confirmed it was rubbish.
The mirror manufacturer said the purchaser & and tester didn't know what they were talking about. The mirror was then interferometer tested & found to be POOR. The mirror manufacturer initially didn't accept that finding. The tester then came up with another bright idea which scared the the rubbish manufacturer and eventually after many months hassle gave the purchaser his £3000 back.
Sorry I've been a bit long winded but I'm trying to make the point that up till that time the rubbish telescope maker and others like him were getting away with murder,
That's probably why there were many ATMs making more decent stuff.
My acquaintance gave me several instances but did not want detailed information to be told about.
Best wishes from Cliff (PS I got ripped off the odd time myself)

Author:  Cliff [ Tue Feb 14, 2017 8:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Astronomical monthly magazines

Dear Brian (Lancs)
I was really rather tired when I wrote my garbled reply to you last night - I hope you can make some sense out of it (and this one?). However, I have to say I have some respect for ATMs. There was a time when I would have liked to have made my own telescope & especially an 8 inch mirror. The acquaintance I mentioned was actually one of the type of ATMs you referred to.
As to how many ATMs there are in the UK, I hesitate to say. As far as I know relatively few members of most astronomical societies do much observing - so I assume the number of ATMs is even fewer. More than a decade ago, I was told that although a UK astro magazine
claimed to have 20,000 readers - the number was actually more like 10,000. Several times I've tried to assess how many active amateur astonomers and actual keen observers there might be in the UK. I vaguely recall my guestimates were well below 10,000 amateur astronomers and below 1,000 keen observers. I was recently told by a long standing member of of one quite big society he could only think of less than ten members who really do much observing. As far as I know that society as no ATMers in its membership.
Best wishes from Cliff

Author:  Cliff [ Tue Feb 14, 2017 8:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Astronomical monthly magazines

Dear Alastair
I agree that there are probably many different magazines (TOO many) hovering around the £5 mark. If the S&N price had been £4:99 I "might" have bought it. I accept that by annually subscribing to mags I might get better value - but I do like perusing mags in newsagents. If I annually subscribed to various mags I occasionally buy it might cost me a lot of money !
Ironically just before Christmas I was thinking there are (were) perhaps too many mags on sale in my local WHSmiths. Blow me down soon after Xmas I was surprised to see Smith's seemed to have cut down the size of their magazine shelves.
I can say that in the last year or so I have become less nonchalant buying magazines which seem to be getting a bit expensive.
Best wishes from Cliff
PS - Thinking back a bit - I think I can say, in my hill going days I was reasonably well aware of a fair bit of the gen on OS maps and even sometimes adjusted compass bearings (though rarely to really great accuracy). Over the years I think I assisted in half a dozen mountain rescues, four were at night.

Author:  Cliff [ Tue Feb 14, 2017 10:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Astronomical monthly magazines

Dear Mike
If you personally like "surveys" I have no objection to you getting involved in them. However, one reason I do not like surveys, is they almost always contain questions I don't like, or do not want to answer. I don't care who invented the SPA survey. My immediate thought was not to bother with it. Then having red your initial comment I decided to do the "decent" thing. When I got more deeply involved in doing it it seemed if I didn't answer every question my answer to the survey wasn't accepted. To be honest now I do not know for sure if my response was accepted which I really hope it wasn't or was accepted.
Another thing about surveys, is there seem to be quite a few surveys or whatever, being pushed at us if shopping in a town centre. I'm afraid I don't like being "attacked" in shopping centres by anyone even arguably the most worthwhile charities. Who can be trusted these days -who knows what a survey may eventually be used for - I suspect some surveys get misused - even if the SPA survey might\is NOT.
Best wishes from Cliff

Author:  Cliff [ Tue Feb 14, 2017 10:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Astronomical monthly magazines

Dear Tracie
Many thanks for your comments.
It makes me feel happier with my initial concerns about surveys - and particularly those on the internet. I now really wish I had not reconsidered my initial decision not to participate.
In many respects I'm scared of the internet and beginning to think more and more it will seriously damage society (like mobile phones - fortunately I can't use one). I'm inclined to go a bit extremely further - the internet may well be a factor in the speeding up the supposed SIXTH extinction which probably started a few years ago.
But in the meantime the BEST of LUCK to you and a few more people, from Cliff

Author:  Cliff [ Tue Feb 14, 2017 10:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Astronomical monthly magazines

Dear Brian (W) David (F)
Thanks !!!!
Best wishes from Cliff

Author:  mike a feist [ Tue Feb 14, 2017 10:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Astronomical monthly magazines

As a general rule Cliff I always refuse to answer any survey presented on the telephone ("sorry I am a bit deaf!- true) or on the street. Or any political survey, although I did vote on the Referendum.
I do buy (not but subscription) many of the Astro-mags, depending what I see in WHS but probably read about 50% of each and look through the rest. regards maf

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