Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â I recently purchased the March 2008 issue of "Sky & Telescope: The Essential Magazine of Astronomy."Â Â As expected, this magazine is filled with advertisements for various telescopes and components.Â With my interest in photography, I found most of the ads very interesting and spent more time viewing and reading the ads than I would have previously thought.Â I do wonder if any of these telescope lenses fit on my camera.Â My oldest son has a student telescope that we cannot seem to get to work properly.Â After he viewed the advertisements in this magazine he has asked for a telescope "upgrade."
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â In the middle of the magazine are various pull-out March 2008 star charts.Â I will admit that my first experience with the star chart was a bit intimidating and took several minutes to decipher.Â Â However, I have successfully used this chart to locate Ursa Major, Polaris, and Cassiopeia.Â Once our Upstate, NY skies clear again, I am looking forward to using this cart to help locate the Winter Circle and the accompanying constellations and stars.Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â This magazine features several articles each month.Â The featured articles of March 2008 include: "Cosmic Superparticle Mystery: Solved?" "Origin of the Elements of Life" "Where Did You Come From?" "Gaia's Mission to the Milky Way" and "Polestars of the Future: A Journey in a Celestial Time Machine."Â The second and third featured articles both interested me in this issue and both were also featured on the Cover of the magazine.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Within this magazine there are many "departments" that would appear every month including a monthly information regarding the sky in general (moon phases, planets that may be visible, and a celestial almanac), The Northern Hemisphere's Sky chart, A Binocular Highlight (tips and what can be seen using binoculars), The Southern Hemisphere's Sky chart, Sun Moon and Planets (what can be seen and expected by the various planets and our sun this month), Exploring the Moon (this month's article highlights craters and lunar impacts), Celestial Calendar (the path of asteroid 7 Iris is highlighted this month), Deep-Sky Wonders (highlighting the stars of Gemini), S&T Test Report (various telescopes, lenses, and parts are evaluated with specifications given), Spectrum (a short note written by the Editor), Letters by readers, Skyscape (Images of the sky), News Notes (short blurbs about recent discoveries and notable news), Mission Update (concerning space telescopes and observations), 50 & 25 Years Ago (discoveries from the past), New Product Showcase (highlights new products, lenses and telescopes that have just been released for consumers), Rambling Through the Skies (an article giving the history and mythology of constellations), Star Trails (general articles about stars, our Sun, Moon and comets), Books & Beyond (recommendations for various astronomy and telescope books), Astronomy Online (reviews of various on-line reference and astronomy related websites), Telescope Workshop (building your own telescope), Hobby Q&A (questions and answers related to amateur astronomy), Gallery (reader's images showcased), and Focal Point (a short, humorous article that closes that magazine).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Because of my dual interest in the Internet and Photography the "Astronomy Online" department and article really caught my attention with this headline "For pennies per night, you can take photos using a mountaintop telescope."Â What is this all about?Â I needed to read this article to calm down my curious mind.Â Â On a mountain in the Canary Islands subscribers to http://www.slooh.com/ Â are allowed to not only access the view of the telescope, but are also able to drive the telescope themselves.Â Before purchasing a subscription, anyone can try it out for a week for free.Â This service is not cheap, as a year subscription with unlimited access will cost $100.Â For $20 a person can purchase limited access of 200 minutes.Â One added benefit is that you do not need to download software, but are able to use your browser for viewing.Â Two telescopes are available with one being driven by the Slooh editors.Â The other telescope can be reserved by subscribers in 5 minute intervals.Â Any image that you like can be captured and saved in JPEG format and then downloaded.Â If the weather and viewing is poor, subscribers and trial members are credited for "poor" conditions and terms are extended.Â In addition to the telescope portion, there is an entire community forum that an aspiring astronomer can participate in which include chat forums, radio personalities, discussion forums, sharing of pictures and blogs.Â In the works is also a Southern Hemisphere facility, located in Chile and a second telescope near Melbourne, Australia.Â This sounds like quite an exciting program and I plan to take advantage of the free trial week to check out the skies using the available professional grade telescopes.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Overall, I am highly impressed by the quality images and articles found in this magazine.Â There is such a range of information that any person looking at the night sky would be able to find an interesting article among this issue.Â The graphics and images that are included in this issue complement the articles and discussions that are presented.Â This is a highly informative magazine concerning technology and the night sky and I am already looking forward to the April 2008 issue next month.