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Fraser
2006-Jan-05, 05:54 PM
SUMMARY: I'm sure some of you noticed we missed this week's What's Up, and I apologize, my whole family was a little sick this week, so I wasn't able to put much work into the website. However, I have a big surprise for all of you. Tammy has been hard at work for the last 4 months writing a book... for you.

What's Up 2006 - 365 Days of Skywatching

This is a FREE 407-page downloadable book containing What's Up material for every day in 2006. You can download the book to your local computer, go to the day you like and print off the page to take outside with you nicely formatted. It's also got tons of other material including general skywatching advice, equipment selection, and hundreds of beautiful photographs. We've been working pretty hard on this. :-)

Click here to download the entire book.
http://www.universetoday.com/365days.pdf

It's an Adobe Acrobat PDF file, so you'll need to download the Adobe Acrobat reader if you don't have it already.

And yes, this book is absolutely free. Download it, send it to your friends, print it off. Oh, and if you could tell everyone you know, we'd really appreciate it. :-) We'll still be having the same old web content as well, and some additional material to support the book. I'm still getting that all together, but I didn't want to delay the release any longer.

Also, this is an experiment, so give me any feedback you have, suggestions for improvements, etc.

Fraser Cain
Publisher
Universe Today


What do you think about this story? post your comments below.

AstroStart.nl
2006-Jan-05, 06:16 PM
I promoted it on AstroStart (most actual astronomical news website in Holland).

http://www.astrostart.nl/index.php?subaction=showfull&id=1136484732&archive=&start_from=&ucat=119&

pumpkinpie
2006-Jan-05, 06:32 PM
Wow, that's a very impressive publication. I look forward to spending some time looking through it during the year! I'll post how I make use of it.

Swift
2006-Jan-05, 07:03 PM
Wow Fraser, that's great! :clap: Thanks a bunch. That will be really useful when I help with night hikes and am looking for some stuff to talk about.

ToSeek
2006-Jan-05, 07:43 PM
The RSS feed for this item currently gives the URL

http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/article_3104.html

Which doesn't work.

TheAstronomer
2006-Jan-05, 10:22 PM
I'll be looking forward to hearing what all of you have to say!

~Tammy

ToSeek
2006-Jan-05, 11:10 PM
The RSS feed for this item currently gives the URL

http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/article_3104.html

Which doesn't work.

Okay, it's fixed now.

ChesmontAstro
2006-Jan-06, 03:22 AM
I've just glanced over it, and it looks impressive. I've already reformatted it for my Sony PSP so I can read it in the field! :lol:

I've also posted a link to it at http://www.chesmontastro.org.

Fraser
2006-Jan-06, 03:37 AM
Wow, that's cool. :-)

ChesmontAstro
2006-Jan-06, 03:25 PM
Fraser, (and Tammy, if she reads this),

You might be interested in a no-cost-to-you method of publishing this book in hardcopy form.

http://www.cafepress.com is a company that allows anybody to design and re-sell custom goods; I use it for club t-shirts and such. Recently, I worked up an "observer's notebook" (http://www.cafepress.com/chesmontastro.34493299) and ordered a sample copy, which came out really nicely.

From the look of it - the base cost would be $7 per book + $0.03 per page, so you could let people order hard copies for $20 per copy, with no inventory or overhead cost.

Fraser
2006-Jan-06, 03:57 PM
Yeah, there's another service called Lulu.com as well. We're going to take a look and see if it makes sense in the next few days.

charmquark
2006-Jan-06, 04:26 PM
Great Work! :dance: I want copies for the car, the camping gear, the house, and the emergency kit.


For my websites... I'll post the link to the pdf.
Suggestion:
.pdf is nice, but what about interactive web content? Any chance all this data is available in a .sql file with a directory of scripts/images? Therefore, some people could to port to various CMS (Content Management System)? A user could search/customize data way easy. If it isn't available in CMS format, I could see what I could do about making it so. :think:

ChesmontAstro
2006-Jan-06, 04:27 PM
and for my use, it looks like it's a lot cheaper than cafepress. I'll have to look into it!

charmquark
2006-Jan-06, 04:30 PM
One thought about Cafepress ... Bad Astronomy and Universe Today on t-shirts, coffee mugs, mousepads, ect !! :)

charmquark
2006-Jan-06, 04:30 PM
One thought about Cafepress ... Bad Astronomy and Universe Today on t-shirts, coffee mugs, mousepads, etc !! :)

Fraser
2006-Jan-06, 07:01 PM
I'd like some kind of time machine to find the time to do all this stuff. :-) But seriously, if anyone wants to put this into a database, we can give you the source documents. I'll still be publishing them on the website once a week as well. But some kind of index/search would be very cool.

astronomy2004
2006-Jan-07, 03:07 PM
Fraser this has also been slashdot'ed. :P

http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/01/07/1417210&from=rss

Fraser
2006-Jan-07, 03:55 PM
That's cool. Watch my server overheat.

temarc
2006-Jan-07, 04:33 PM
OK, I've been checking out the "What's Up 2006 - 365 Days of Skywatching.pdf". Great info, I'll be learning more than I thought I could about astronomy issues. Where did I place my car keys?
Make sure you reproofread before printing, though. There's an entry for 'Sunday, January 7th', as well as 'Sunday, January 8th'.
I knew about the leapsecond this year, but I missed out on the leapSunday.
LOL!
Again, I believe this be an invaluable tool, to help teach the next generation. Great work.
Too bad that no one else would undergo a project like this, and expect to become a millionaire, over'night'.

zandperl
2006-Jan-07, 05:18 PM
This looks like a very interesting book for experienced amateur astronomers. I'll be sure to pass it on to my friends.

My main criticism is that the introduction makes it out to be a book for beginners, but there are many simple observing skills neglected in the introduction (such as adverted vision, and just how to keep warm for a whole night of observing) that make the book more appropriate for intermediate observers. Additionally, the intro refers to sky charts which are not actually present in the book. ("Thanks to the good folks at Sky and Telescope magazine, we’ve provided you with some “sky view” charts to help guide the way," pg I.)

I've written a more extensive review (http://modern-science.blogspot.com/2006/01/free-virtual-astronomy-observing-book.html) if anyone wishes to take the time.

Ken Vogt
2006-Jan-07, 10:19 PM
Make sure you reproofread before printing, though. There's an entry for 'Sunday, January 7th', as well as 'Sunday, January 8th'.
Hi temarc,

As Fraser said the book is an experiment, and errors pointed out here and elsewhere can hopefully be incorporated in revisions of this year's text before anything is sent to a print service.

Having two consecutive Sundays was an "experiment" for those of us who can't face Mondays -- oops! Seriously, I apologize for this and any other such gaffes: entirely My Bad.

I would be very grateful to hear of other editing errors, either here or by email or PM.


This looks like a very interesting book for experienced amateur astronomers. I'll be sure to pass it on to my friends.

My main criticism is that the introduction makes it out to be a book for beginners, but there are many simple observing skills neglected in the introduction (such as adverted vision, and just how to keep warm for a whole night of observing) that make the book more appropriate for intermediate observers. Additionally, the intro refers to sky charts which are not actually present in the book. ("Thanks to the good folks at Sky and Telescope magazine, we’ve provided you with some “sky view” charts to help guide the way," pg I.)

I've written a more extensive review (http://modern-science.blogspot.com/2006/01/free-virtual-astronomy-observing-book.html) if anyone wishes to take the time.
Thanks very much for the comprehensive review, zandperl; I take many of your points.

The sky charts obviously were intended for inclusion, I'm not sure if it will be possible for this year's version, but for sure in future. If not, hopefully we can correct the text to provide a proper link.

I agree with you about the omission of averted vision and cold weather observing, but on the whole I thought the Foreword was an excellent beginner's introduction. (But I am prejudiced, very. :) )

I do take issue with the characterization of these two points as "there are many simple observing skills neglected in the introduction" and, from your review:


However to the more experienced observer it is clear that there are large gaps and assumptions that the author made about her audience. (emphasis mine.)

I sincerely hope you will point out other gaps, either here or to Fraser, Tammy or myself by email or PM. We do want to make this year's book better if we still can and learn for next year. When revisions are incorporated, I'll be sure to post a comment on your site.

Finally as you say, the heart of the book is the daily observing program, and being the poorest of observers myself, I will let other readers of Tammy's weekly columns over the years say whether or not her directions are appropriate for beginners.

Fraser
2006-Jan-07, 10:38 PM
The book is still a living document. We've already fixed the errors people have pointed out so far, and will have the charts, etc in the next revision. Keep the bug reports coming.

ChesmontAstro
2006-Jan-08, 02:58 AM
One thought about Cafepress ... Bad Astronomy and Universe Today on t-shirts, coffee mugs, mousepads, etc !! :)

Not to mention thongs.

No body seems to want to buy Chesmont Astronomical Society lingerie. I can't understand it.

Carnifex
2006-Jan-08, 05:17 PM
I am not sure that I have the most recent version of What's Up 2006, however, I've already noticed some formatting issues in the PDF. To be more exact, in pages 57, 90 and 91 the text is out of bounds and is clipped in the middle of the sentence. I believe shortening the text or changing font or simply letting it go to another page would suffice to correct that.

ioresult
2006-Jan-08, 06:02 PM
I just downloaded the ebook on bit torrent and the version I have shows a galaxy instead of mars for january 13th.

Carnifex
2006-Jan-08, 08:45 PM
May 22

...for the must [much?] easier...

...from magnitude 4.4 to 11.0 magnitude is [in?] less than a year.

Ken Vogt
2006-Jan-08, 09:38 PM
I am not sure that I have the most recent version of What's Up 2006, however, I've already noticed some formatting issues in the PDF. To be more exact, in pages 57, 90 and 91 the text is out of bounds and is clipped in the middle of the sentence. I believe shortening the text or changing font or simply letting it go to another page would suffice to correct that.
I don't believe the changes have been incorporated into the distribution file yet. I believe the idea is to present a batch of corrections to the designers for better version control. I'm sure Fraser will let us know when a revised version is up.

We are aware of the page overruns you spoke of. <mega-oops> Unfortunately, we learned of the format restriction very late in the process. Tammy worked furiously for a day to make these pages (and several others) fit the space available. Unfortunately these 3 pages were still too long, and our 2nd revisions just did not make it in in time for the release.

Also, thanks must for pointing out the May 22 errors, I much have spell-checked it, but is obviously wasn't enough... :(:)


I just downloaded the ebook on bit torrent and the version I have shows a galaxy instead of mars for january 13th.
Tammy just noticed this one as well; and we'll be sure it is fixed.

We are all trying to make it the best book possible, and while I'm very sorry for these errors, I'm also grateful to you for helping us out with getting them sorted.

Carnifex
2006-Jan-08, 10:49 PM
And one more thing I've noticed when reading the guide more thoroughly:

March 21:
The photo apparently shows M48, however it is titled "J.W.Draper's Moon Image"

March 23:
Vice versa, it is a moon picture, but it is named "M48"

I'm just happy to help. This PDF is one of the greatest things for an amateur astronomist to have, and these mistakes don't diminish its value... But it can't be too perfect, right? ;)

Ken Vogt
2006-Jan-09, 03:07 AM
We'll just caption it "Carnifex's Discovery of Craters on M48." :)

Seriously, thanks much for your help with these! As Fraser said, we are all very grateful to you and all who have or will spot errors, and I'm particularly thankful for your understanding:

I'm just happy to help. This PDF is one of the greatest things for an amateur astronomist to have, and these mistakes don't diminish its value... But it can't be too perfect, right?
Agree completely: keep 'em coming.

___

Especially because of the star charts, any of you who were planning to print a copy for yourself might want to wait for a revised PDF to be posted.

If anyone has already printed, PM me and I'll send you a list of changed page numbers between the two versions.

Fraser
2006-Jan-09, 03:56 AM
I'm going to make the star charts available as a separate download so people don't have to download the whole thing again, just to get some minor fixes.

Matthew
2006-Jan-09, 05:51 AM
Though will you create an updated version with the starcharts for those who have not yet downloaded it?

Ken Vogt
2006-Jan-09, 02:42 PM
Though will you create an updated version with the starcharts for those who have not yet downloaded it?
It's Fraser's call of course, but I surely do assume so Mathew. It was always the intention to include the charts, and I think the way is now clear for that to happen.

I would expect that the server demand would be less for a new full version as well.

So the full updated version should have the charts, all known bugfixes, and no doubt, a few more bugs discovered just after it is announced. :) But we sure hope to have got the worst ones...

Edit: OTOH, come to think of it, there may be copyright or other reasons for keeping the two separate...so I better let Fraser give the definitive answer.

Pleiades
2006-Jan-09, 06:15 PM
Thank you Universe today, what a lovely gift. I'm quite the novice and must say I have learned much already.

Again thanks so much.

The Near-Sighted Astronomer
2006-Jan-10, 01:25 AM
Hi All,

As Tammy has indicated, the response of UT readers to the book "365 Days" has been personally very gratifying. Helping Tammy turn her dream of "What's Up" into a book has been a monumental effort for all concerned. It has also required a great deal of give and take in terms of length and complexity. In writing the deep-sky portion of the book my own concept was to be as detailed as possible - providing a wealth of description and theory to go along with detailed guidance on how to find the over three hundred deepsky studies included. Tammy soon tempered my enthusiasm and "reigned me in." It was also important to strike a balance between the book and her weekly column. I am grateful to Tammy for sharing her experience in writing and helping me to achieve a balance in terms of depth and presentation style.

One issue left unaddressed as of yet are the star charts. In fact I spent almost as much time developing the charts as writing on deepsky topics. Although the charts themselves could be computer generated all deepsky entries had to be hand-entered due to problems with the way the software program overlayed labels...

Since i had to hand-enter each of almost 600 deepsky studies, i wanted the charts to be extra-special and unique. Drawing from my own website <http://astro.geekjoy.com/calcs/DSO_List.html> i encoded all entries based on "Optimal Aperture" - a concept best explained by reading the preface to the charts. Simply said though, each chart entry includes a reference to the smallest aperture scope that will give a solid view of the study under decent - not perfect - dark sky conditions (stars to magnitude 5.5 visible unaided).

Since i was not contracted to develop these charts by Fraser, they hold my personal copyright - something that may complicate Fraser's right to publish them. But let me speak freely here, Fraser is free to include the charts with the e-book "365 days" as long as they are used specifically in association with it. What this means practically has yet to be worked out - since i personally prefer that the charts be part of the original and integrated book version - although we can discuss a separate download as an alternatve to the fact they are not yet available in that format.

In reading snatches of 365 Days, it is clear to me that the community behind it - publisher, editor, contributing astrophotographers etc. - has had to work very hard to turn this thing around so quickly. Tammy and I started writing in late August and new materials - such as the foreward - were being written even into 2006. What an amazing turn-around! But inevitably there are errors and its wonderful to see an even larger community growing up around it to help root these things out.

Will there be a 365 Days - 2007? With your support the answer can be none other than YES!

Will there be a bound and printed volume? Can you imagine shlepping the thing out to your favorite observing site every clear sky evening? Can you see it perched near your "grab and go" scope in the study? How about turned open to each day of the year on the coffee table in the living room with all those wonderful astroshots taken by amateurs and professionals alike?

If the answer is yes, let Fraser know and give him and the publishing team the encouragement needed to unleash their innate genius to make it possible.

Carpe Noctem,

jeff Barbour

Fraser
2006-Jan-10, 02:36 AM
Thanks for all your help too Jeff, it was greatly appreciated. Make sure you provide some links over to your sky charts.

Karen M.
2006-Jan-10, 03:39 AM
Hello Tammy and Fraser,

Yes, I have printed up several months worth of chapters, this will go well with my Christmas gift of a small Meade Reflecting Telescope! Yes, I've finally got eyes better then bioculars! My daughter (who is 6) and I have been out in the light polluted Baltimore evenings already, and did a little observing.

I also agree that an occasional (perhaps monthly) star chart would be very handy in this publication. Or, perhaps a blow up chart of a region being focused upon for a particular night?

Proofreading note I've come up with: January 13th, "Mars" looks an aweful lot like a galaxy (Andromeda?).

Helpful hint: Since I've printed this on single sided sheets, I'm putting my "observing notes" on the other side of the day's paper. Viewing conditions, temprature, Moon phase, etc. Turn this book into a journal as well.

Unfortunately, I am unable to spend much time observing (not that my location helps much with light pollution and atrocious weather conditions), but real life prevents me from spending long evenings and mornings outside.

TheAstronomer
2006-Jan-10, 06:50 PM
Greetings, fellow SkyWatchers and UT Readers!

First let's take a moment to express our gratitude to all of you. The response to "365 Days" has been overwhelming and we cannot adequately express how much we appreciate each and every one of you who have taken the time to download it, read it, report errors, review and pass it along! This is all about you and we are so humble that folks have found it useful. Please hang in there and we will respond to all of your kind letters!

In the mean time, we all have been busy taking all of your suggestions and implementing them. While major changes to text can't be made at this point for formatting reasons, suggestions as to how to improve observing tips have been duly noted and even we got a laugh out of a Mars that looks suspiciously like a galaxy! Just think... The next time it rolls around to opposition we'd have a chance to see it as large as the full moon! ;)

We have been hard at work for the last week catching all the errors and we're getting close to the end of our rather impressive list. If you have a moment, please give Ken a round of applause because his efforts have been the most critical of all in helping all of this come together. Thanks to his encouragement and support, we were able to wade through volumes of bad text and directions and give to you what we hope to be a relatively comprehensive reason to observe.

The next round of applause goes to Fraser Cain for his idea of turning the weekly columns into a book. His support has meant stretching bandwidth to the breaking point and it is our hope that in some small way this publication gives "Universe Today" some of the attention it truly deserves! Hat's off to Fraser...

For now? We're back to the drafting board to complete this year and start on the next. Plans include specific charts to help you study certain areas of the sky, detailed lunar maps, guidelines for completing AL observing challenges and areas in which to keep notes.

As always, we hope to present information which touches on all skills levels and readers in all parts of the world. It's all about YOU!! And what YOU can achieve - be it with just your eyes, binoculars, a small scope, or even a large one! There are no limits to what YOU can do - no matter who you are, where you live, or what you use - because every journey you take will be at...

Light Speed!

~Tammy

Karen M.
2006-Jan-10, 07:53 PM
Oh, I forgot to give my profound THANKS to everyone involved in this awesome project. Tammy, Fraser and Jeff.

THANK YOU for sharing this with all Universe today Readers!

Karen

The Near-Sighted Astronomer
2006-Jan-10, 11:44 PM
Hi All,

Fraser has encouraged me to publicize the availability of an HTML version of the star charts. In fact, sequestered obscurely on my own personal website is just such a series of charts! However, since i am away from my personal computer - and lacking a clear memory of the URL - i am unble to do so at this time.

However, i do believe that Tammy and Fraser have the URL in some email or another so i encouage either of them to add the URL to this thread so those supporting the book project can begin to look them over and try them out. Your comments would be helpful in terms of refining the charts in the same way as the book as a whole.

jeff

PS: Tammy/Fraser the URL starts with
"http://earth.ihwy.com/~barbour/jeff/books/"

Ken Vogt
2006-Jan-11, 02:55 AM
Thanks to Tammy for the kind words. Against my nature, I want to be brief, so I will just say that both she and Fraser know how profoundly grateful I am for their support and understanding, and for the beautiful book they have produced. :clap:

Of course as "editor" I am responsible for each of the errors in the current version, and each one hurts me. But we have worked hard to fix them, and a revised version should be ready soon. We have addressed all the errors mentioned here, on the BA's Blog and from email to Fraser; though a few last minute text changes just could not be made due to format restrictions (in particular inclusion of the April 1 occultation and a note on averted vision.) I am sorry for this.

But we all are so very grateful to all of you who have helped make this a better book. :)

For complex computer reasons, Tammy was unable to view the galleys until late in the process, and so the greatest difference in the revised version will be many corrected images and captions; there were some broken links as well.

So if you have the bandwidth, and have not yet printed, I urge you to re-download the full revised version, and not just the star maps. I think you'll be glad you did. :) And I hope the many of you who have kindly put notices up on astronomy sites world-wide will link to the new version as well.

The best reason to get the new version of course will be the bimonthly star charts, which will indeed be included, coming just after the title pages of the odd-numbered months. The Lick Observatory Moon map will be in the Foreword, near the "The Moon" section.

In actual fact, these charts will the ones from Sky and Telescope that Tammy mentions in the Acknowledgments. So there are no issues with copyright. There are of course many other star charts available, some undoubtedly better than the (free) ones in the book. Perhaps these would more appropriately be discussed in a separate topic?
___

Finally I want to address one or two points readers have raised:

I've already noticed some formatting issues in the PDF. To be more exact, in pages 57, 90 and 91 the text is out of bounds and is clipped in the middle of the sentence. I believe shortening the text or changing font or simply letting it go to another page would suffice to correct that.
This was the gaffe that caused me most pain. :( Tammy has in fact shortened the above pages, and several more that overran in the initial galleys. By the time we saw the galleys, the format had been firmly fixed, and it was just not possible to change fonts or run text to another page. The shortening will be felt most in the Messier Marathon days of late March and early April. But the original text of all 15 or so of the shortened days will be available in this forum section in Tammy's weekly "What's Up" story.

An emailer wondered about having a "live" Table of Contents, with links to the sections like other PDF documents. The answer is probably that we did not know exactly what the front and back matter would consist of until so late. Also the book is clearly formatted for print -- there are no links at all except for the images. But I will look into whether we can have that feature next year.

Also since headline and caption text is spaced (kerned?) differently, you can't search for terms like "January 15," to find your way easily to the current date. Maybe someone more familiar with Acrobat knows a way around this?

Yes, as readers of the BOINC threads know, this is me being "brief." :o So I will just say Thanks Again! to one and all. And keep your feedback coming; we can still correct errors, links that go bad, etc., at any time.

Fraser
2006-Jan-11, 03:18 AM
If anyone's interested, we recently passed the 100,000 download mark. So... wow. I guess people liked this idea.

Ken Vogt
2006-Jan-11, 10:55 AM
Fraser, that's fantastic and amazing. Congratulations!:dance: :clap: :)

Wolverine
2006-Jan-11, 11:20 AM
Wow. Nice.

Jakenorrish
2006-Jan-11, 11:37 AM
:clap: