Sixty Years and Counting
Participants on Sky Telescope's tour to Africa for the June 21st total solar eclipse witnessed an unusually lengthy and lustrous "diamond ring" as the last bead of sunlight slipped behind the Moon. How appropriate, as this year marks the diamond anniversary of Sky ...
Sixty Years and Counting
Participants on Sky Telescope's tour to Africa for the June 21st total solar eclipse witnessed an unusually lengthy and lustrous "diamond ring" as the last bead of sunlight slipped behind the Moon. How appropriate, as this year marks the diamond anniversary of Sky Telescope itself. Our first issue appeared 60 years ago this month.
On a cosmic time scale, 60 years isn't much. But on a human time scale, it's plenty. Several of us on the staff can't help but run the numbers in our heads this year. Stuart Goldman and I joined the magazine a week apart in late 1986, so we're celebrating our 15th anniversary as ST editors; we've been with the
magazine for a quarter of its history. And since I just turned 45, I've spent a third of my life here (the best third). But that's nothing: Roger Sinnott celebrates his 30th anniversary at ST before year's end; he's been with the magazine fully half its life — and more than half of his.
Many of you go way back with Sky Telescope too. When I meet amateur astronomers at star parties or other events, the first thing they usually tell me is how long they've been reading the magazine. Often it's longer than I've been working here, and surprisingly often it's longer than I've been alive.
Ten years ago we published a special 50th-anniversary issue. In it we noted that the magazine had grown from an average of 28 pages each month to 112. "Stay with us," we wrote, "for the pace is only accelerating, and the ride promises to get even wilder in the years ahead." We were right! After only one additional decade. Sky & Telescope averages 150-1- pages per issue. The pace of cosmic discovery isn't the only thing that's accelerating. Public interest in astronomy is on the increase, and the spectrum of telescopes and accessories available to amateurs is growing rapidly.
And then there's the universe itself: its very expansion is now believed to be accelerating. This is one of many significant discoveries made since our 50th anniversary. Substellar brown dwarfs and extrasolar planets are now real, as are giant comets (or are they small planets?) beyond Pluto. The solar-neutrino problem has been solved, the Hubble constant has been pinned down to within 10 percent, and gamma-ray bursts have been shown to originate from outside our galaxy. And on and on and on, to our continual astonishment and delight.
It's that astonishment and delight that keeps us all going — editors and readers alike. So, without further ado, let's raise the curtain on our seventh decade and see what the universe has in store for us.
' YEARS OF EXCELLENCE