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Astrophoto Insight & Astronomy Technology Today

Some of you may have seen articles and reviews I have done in Astrophoto Insight, Astronomy Technology Today, and Cloudy Nights (you can find these on the Articless and Reviews section of my personal page). I consider these three of my favorite astro-resources. Toss in the various Yahoo Groups and you’re set as far as I’m concerned. While the Yahoo groups and Cloudy Nights are free websites, Astrophoto Insight and Astronomy Technology Today both involve subscriptions for full access. Now, these aren’t break-the-bank kinds of prices. Astrophoto Insight will let you download the current issue for free and wants $24.95 for a “Platinum” level membership that will give you full access. Astronomy Technology Today wants $18 (for US print + online or for International online access). My advice - subscribe to both.

I subscribe to both and I do so not just because I’ve published in them or met the guys who run them. Sure, Al from Astrophoto Insight and Stuart and Gary from Astronomy Technology Today are all stand-up guys. These things and $1.69 get you a cup of coffee, not a wallet opening for a subscription, though. I subscribe because they publish solid articles on things I want to read about. From real tips and techniques to solid reviews, both do a bang-up job. And please, I’m not talking about my reviews and articles in here. I certainly skip those and can read them for free. When the latest issue of either comes out, I devour it. I devour it in the way I used to devour S&T years ago.

“Oh, but magazines are driven by ads” one might say. Sure, that’s a part of it. I’ve got a very long history with magazines and reviews as I grew up in the business (my father was a magazine editor). Ads give the magazines a lot of the money they need to do what they do but this can present a conflict of interest. So far, I’ve not detected biases in the reviews that would suggest the reviews are being slanted based on ad money. As someone who’s written for both, I can also state that I’ve been able to freely talk about the downsides of gear in my reviews. To me, that’s huge. Any product will have its good sides and bad. Some have more good and some more bad. To trust a source, you’ve got to know that when there are bad sides, they’ll be covered and not swept under the rug. Seeing both from the inside has made me feel I can certainly trust both. (FWIW, the more common thing to have happen is that when a product is really bad, it just won’t get reviewed. No, I’ve not hit that yet with either, but I did see it a bit growing up.)

Ads also do things for readers (apart from helping the magazine exist). They let us see neat new toys and find out new things going on in our hobby. Just a few days ago after seeing an ad in one of them I said, “Hey, that’s a cool new gizmo!” and contacted the company for more info. Depsite spending a lot of time with this hobby (far too much my wife would say), I’d missed this new gizmo (just so you don’t think I’m making this up, it was the Moonlight Telescope’s SCT focuser that lets you screw the focal reducer into the drawtube.)

There’s another thing that these two magazines do for readers when it comes to ads. They show ads for products that can’t make it into the bigger magazines. I certainly know this from first-hand experience. Our hobby has big companies and small companies and the small ones have certainly done a lot for our hobby too. Small ones often can’t afford to advertise in bigger magazines but can potentially afford to advertise in API and ATT. Or, even if they could, the ad wouldn’t have as much info in it as it’d be crammed into a small space.

If you’re not a subscriber / haven’t checked them out, do so. Heck, if somehow you’re reading this and don’t know about Cloudy Nights, stop reading this and get over there now. We’ve got some fantastic sources of information and communities available to us. Use them. Support them.

Craig