Who says you can’t go old-school when it comes to keeping up-to-date with the latest in the field of astronomy? Apps are of course a powerful tool in the never-ending quest for news of objects and events beyond our atmosphere, but very few apps allow their users to keep their finger on the pulse of astronomy quite like a monthly magazine can. There is an impressive selection of astronomy magazines in the UK, but this article is focused on reviewing the best the astronomy-magazine world has to offer: Astronomy.com’s Magazine is much-anticipated by many each month, while Sky at Night and Astronomy Now’s pages are also under review here, as is the constantly-updated online content each of these three magazines has to offer.
It would be difficult for anyone to argue against both the quality and quantity of astronomy information, news, and further content in the magazine pages of Astronomy.com’s monthly edition. Though most will recognise Astronomy.com from the pages of its website alone, its monthly magazine is the best-selling astronomy magazine in the world, and for very good reason: it’s arguably the most comprehensively-written and wonderfully presented astronomy magazine in existence.
Not only does the magazine provide its reader with a substantial quantity of photographs covering all manner of astronomical phenomena, it’s also rich in up-to-date information regarding events in the night sky, the latest in science reporting, and perhaps even more usefully for amateur astronomers, frequent tips on night-sky observation theory/techniques as well as reviews of useful hardware such as telescopes and also the latest astronomy apps.
The talented team of editing staff at Astronomy.com work with passion every month in order to provide a magazine with both quantity and quality of information, with a special emphasis on presenting the magazine in an easy-to-read format. One could choose Astronomy Magazine simply for its stunning photography, as its pages are packed with stunning scenes of both the night sky as observed from earth, as well as some of the latest and most beautiful images taken from hardware stationed in the earth’s upper atmosphere. It’s not all about looks however: the magazine contains the latest articles reporting on matters of astronomy and the related sciences, as well as documenting and commentary on every major night-sky event each month.
The Astronomy magazine’s online presence is also impressive, with past and present issues available online for subscribing members to browse through. The all-access subscription, which includes both digital and physical copies, is $54.95 for a single year, or $150.95 for a 3-year subscription.
Sky & Telescope
Sky & Telescope’s magazine draws a variety of content together into perfectly-dovetailed package with physical and online counterparts. The magazine itself is focused on providing an astronomy-centric experience for those of all levels of experience.
It’s best to think of Sky& Telescope magazine as being a physical extension of its highly informative website, with the physical magazine providing monthly astronomy news, detailed information about imminent celestial events, tips regarding observation of the night sky, and also guides and pointers for people looking to improve not only their astrophotography skills, but also their competence with equipment such as specialist lenses, cameras, and of course telescopes.
One of the stand-out features of Sky & Telescope magazine are its “beyond the printed page” extensions found in many articles. Any article with this designation dovetails wonderfully with corresponding online content, which includes but is not limited to images, videos, data sets, and simulations. To see just how comprehensive the online and physical content can be, simply take a peek at the Sky & Telescope Magazine webpage. A year’s subscription costs only $37.95, and includes a free trial issue.
BBC Sky at Night
BBC’s Sky at Night magazine is perhaps best known by association with the late Sir Patrick Moore, but there’s no questioning the longevity and worth of its astronomy content. The magazine covers all matters astronomical, reporting on breakthrough discoveries in the field of astronomy, right the way through to providing beginner’s guides on everything from the operation and proper use of sky-watching devices such as binoculars, telescopes, and the appropriate photographic equipment.
The July 2016 issue of the magazine, for example, covers a wide range of topics, from NASA’s Juno mission to a piece on the Chilean LSST telescope, as well a guide to building a bird-table mount for your equipment. Practising astronomers will benefit from the magazine’s ample focus on the latest astronomy gear and accessories, while the beginner can benefit from the many star-gazing tutorials on offer as well as the magazine’s reviewing of the latest astronomy books and updates on the latest research and developments in the astronomy world.
Worth subscribing to for its stunning pictures of nebulae alone, you can subscribe to the 5 issues for £5 deal, or choose a yearly subscription for £47.90. You also get access to bonus content and all the information on the Sky at Night website, too.
Having been in circulation since 1987, Astronomy Now is a big deal in the UK. It’s a magazine packed with content – the website boasts a hefty 132 pages every month – designed to appeal to amateurs and professionals alike. You’re unlikely to find anything in the world of astronomy that this magazine doesn’t cover, since each issue contains astronomy news, event information, research coverage, product reviews, and a multitude of practical guides to help those of all abilities and experience levels discover more about the night sky.
One of the most useful aspects of the magazine is the ability to view each issue in full on your phone or tablet device – Astronomy Now was in fact the first magazine to offer this kind of functionality – though its online resources available at https://astronomynow.com are also vast. Individual issues cost £4.50, but you can save £19 by entering into the annual subscription at the cost of around £42.