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Keith Cooper

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About Keith Cooper

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  1. Hi Olly, I don't think that's accurate. Magazines are printed at 300dpi, which is usually much higher than standard computer screen resolution. Though it's not really much of a problem these days as the image files submitted to us are usually large enough. If you're not sure, check in the settings on the software you're using, how large, in cm/inches, your image will appear at 300dpi. This is why, going back even 10 years ago, many images were presented small in the magazine, because at 300dpi they would not have been that large, and printing them larger would see them lose detail and become a little pixelated. With today's larger format cameras it's a different story, most images submitted are large enough and we do print quite a few images in the gallery at half-page or full page size, or even as double-page spreads (in response to someone who mentioned one of the reasons they stopped buying mags is because images were presented small in magazines). Another thing to be aware of is that magazines print in CYMK, whereas computer screens display RGB. This can sometimes result in some colours looking a little off when printed as they don't seem to always translate exactly from RGB to CYMK. Also, we find that images sometimes print darker than they appear on the screen, so it might be worth just brightening your images a tad if you want to avoid them looking too dark when printed. If we were publishing a book, we'd get proofs back and be able to identify which pages are too dark and get them fixed, but unfortunately on magazines we don't get that luxury.
  2. It's been interesting reading this – and I do hear you when you say it's harder for beginners or those with less expensive kit to compete with someone using a 20-inch robotic telescope in Spain or somewhere. I understand that. There's no real magic formula to how we chose the images each month. We just collect them all together and choose which ones we like the most! The choices are made irrespective of where or how they've been taken, really we're just looking for aesthetic and technical qualities. That said, we do try to get good variety each month so that they're not all deep-sky images, but that there are some of the Moon, or star trails, or the planets etc included too. So we might leave out some cracking deep-sky images in favour of a decent shot of the Moon, for example. I think that's an important point to make – a starscape with a church spire or natural feature in the foreground taken with a DSLR stands just as much chance of being featured in the gallery as a 14-hour exposure of a DSO. The November issue featured an image of the crescent Moon taken with a 114EQ and a Nokia phone from the middle of Birmingham, for example, so it's not all about having the most expensive kit or the maddest processing skills. We do sometimes feature some images taken outside of the UK, this is partly because of the growth in using robotic telescopes, but we also have an international readership. Certainly, with the way the weather has been this autumn, I expect we'll receive fewer images than usual over the next few months because of the seemingly endless cloudy nights, and we might skew a little more towards those images taken in Spain or the USA or elsewhere in forthcoming issues because of that. We often find that it's the same small number of imagers that submit images to us, so they inevitably end up in the gallery because we don't always receive images from other people! All I can say is, submit your images! I can't promise that they'll definitely be included in the gallery, but we do like to see them regardless. I always suggest targeting objects a little off the beaten track – we're going to be deluged with images of M42 this winter, but we'll only publish one or two of them, but if you image something a little less obvious then it might stand a better chance by virtue of us looking for variety. It's always cool when we receive an image of an object that we've not seen in the gallery before. Anyway, I hope that provides a little bit of context, and good luck with your imaging! Keith Cooper, Astronomy Now
  3. Jason Wright at Penn State has some salient points to make about this: https://www.centauri-dreams.org/2019/01/21/oumuamua-seti-and-the-media/
  4. I've just seen this thread, and thought that I ought to reply. First, I should apologise to anyone who sent me an email about a mistake in the magazine who I didn't reply to. I try to respond to everyone when I can, but sometimes life and work gets in the way and so I'm not able to find time to respond to everybody. I am greatly disappointed that I seem to have made factual mistakes in the magazine, and I look back on my own performance in that particular October issue and it wasn't the best. In my defence I was moving house and all the stress that comes with that, as well as dealing with various deadlines, editing, writing etc. However, that is certainly not an excuse because there shouldn't be big mistakes in the magazine - certainly not for the price magazines cost these days – but I just wanted to explain why I ended up making errors in that issue. I'm certainly embarrassed by my mistakes such that I've redoubled my efforts to do my best to make sure it doesn't happen again. Clearly, my answer to that question about black holes was gibberish and I'm not entirely sure what I was thinking when I wrote it. I seem to have confused myself about the different frames of reference. I welcome correspondence and critique from any reader about anything they've seen in the magazine and I'm happy to stand corrected if I've messed up. I'll be at AstroFest Friday afternoon and all Saturday, so if any SGL members are attending and would like to come and chat with me about it, I'd be more than happy to talk to you. Kind regards, Keith Cooper
  5. From what I understand (bearing in mind I don't set the prices) the reason is that exchange rates can fluctuate so we just have a set price in pounds (otherwise if the pound were to weaken too much we'd end up selling subs at a loss). If I order something from mainland Europe I'll have to pay whatever that is in euros, not pounds, and I'm at the mercy of the exchange rates. It's the same thing. But £40 is still a good deal I think. Yes, of course we would refund the difference. Although anyone entering the store from the AN homepage will get a choice of which storefront to go to: UK, Europe or rest of world, which should hopefully minimise the risk of them selecting the wrong price.
  6. We only have one (UK) subscription price: that's £35. Europe is £40 and rest of the world is £50. Those sites that you link to are not associated with Astronomy Now as far as I am aware. I suspect they simply buy subscriptions and sell them on at a price to make themselves a profit. Many other magazines of all kinds do seem to have a bewildering amount of introductory offers and prices; the cynic in me suggests this a strategy to simply boost reader numbers over short periods to improve ABC figures (not that I can complain - I've taken out magazine subscriptions in the past by taking advantage of such offers). Either way, we don't think such offers are fair on existing readers who want to renew but would otherwise miss out on those deals, so we make sure everyone gets the same deal and try and look after our long time readers as well as new readers. The only official way to buy an Astronomy Now sub is through us, either via the form in the magazine, our online store or by calling our subscription office, where the staff are employed by the magazine and not some faceless agency handling it for us, so the onus is on us to provide good service. Keith, AN editor
  7. As Daz says, the auditorium facilities are key. The lecture facilities at the three venues mentioned by Kharga above are too small judging by what they say on their websites – the hall at Kensington can hold almost 900 people. The organisers have looked all over London but tell me that they haven't been able to find a venue that has an auditorium of equal size, plus more exhibition space, and which is affordable. So we stay at Kensington which, although it does get cramped, still has a lot of plus points. So, why not move out of London? Personally I'd be really excited to have a second AstroFest in the north or in the midlands, but it is easier said than done. I'm not sure all the exhibitors that we have at AstroFest in London would follow us up to Birmingham or Leeds, and there's not enough dealers in the north who may want to attend to make up the shortfall. We would also have to start over in terms of attracting a new audience – we've had nearly 20 years to develop a regular audience at AstroFest. I'm not saying we couldn't build up an audience elsewhere like we have in London but doing that takes time, which isn't really an option when you need the financial return to be immediate for the event to be deemed a success. Mind, I'm not really part of the organising team, so I'm not privy to everything that goes into it – but I'm just calling it from what I do see from behind the scenes. Everyone I talked to on Friday and Saturday seemed to be enjoying it, we did sell out on Saturday, so it seems to have been pretty successful. Despite the economy going down the drain, people still turn up and exhibitors still turn up and put on a great show, which is hugely impressive. It's that kind of devotion that keeps astronomy alive in the UK.
  8. Hi Stuart, Subscribers' copies went out last week, so you should have received your copy of the December issue by now, so it sounds like it may have got lost somewhere. If you want to contact our subscriptions department we'll be happy to send a replacement copy to you. Apologies for you not receiving your magazine. Thanks for reading Astronomy Now! Kind regards, Keith Cooper, AN Editor
  9. If it is the case that they have found arsenic-based life in Mono Lake (and Paul's story in the Sun is just supposition, although I think he may be on the right lines) then it is hugely important. Felisa Wolfe-Simon has for several years now been searching Mono Lake near Yosemite for a strange type of microbial lifeform – one that thrives in arsenic. Her research is funded by NASA. Mono Lake is rich in arsenic, so it is a good environment to look for such life in. 'Normal' life (such as ourselves) is carbon-based, but in science fiction carbon is often substituted for silicon as a different type of lifeform (think of that Star Trek episode, Devil in the Dark, with the silicon 'rock creature', the Horta). 'Normal' life also uses phosphorous as part of the framework of DNA and RNA, but arsenic-based life in Mono Lake – if it exists, and we won't know until the press conference – would replace phosphorous with arsenic. So think of how much a big deal it would be if they announced silicon-based life – arsenic-based life is just as big a deal. Why? Two reasons. First, it widens the possibilities for different kinds of lifeforms on other planets, so we can consider more environments such as Titan. Secondly, if the biochemistry of such organisms is so radically different, they may have had a separate origin – shadow life as someone called it earlier. In other words, there would have been two separate origins of life on Earth. And if Earth can have multiple origins of life, it suggests life is no one-off fluke, and could easily happen elsewhere. So it would be a massive boon for the search for extraterrestrial life. I don't know if this is the discovery they are going to announce, I'm just guessing based on what I know of Wolfe-Simon's past research. At the moment we don't have the apparatus on Mars or Titan to detect life (the best we can do is find possible hints of it, like methane in Mars' atmosphere, which could be biological or geological in origin, we don't know) so we can rule out any discoveries of life on other planets for the moment. So we'll just have to wait and see, but if it is arsenic-based life, then that is extremely interesting and very important. If such life could be tied to the shadow biosphere and a second origin of life on Earth, then it's possibly one of the biggest science stories of the millennium so far (just as was Craig Venter's creation of life in the laboratory earlier this year.) Whatever it is that NASA are announcing, I'm going to be tuning in to that press conference tomorrow! Keith
  10. It's a nice idea Olly, although in Astronomy Now we're a bit tight for space to feature too many images in the gallery as a full page. However I'll discuss it with the designer, as full page pictures do look really nice. I kind of wanted to do something like that for our picture of the month on the back page, but it hasn't quite worked out like that. The other problem is that some of the pictures we get sent in aren't always at print resolution, at least not sufficient for a full page, so we're sometimes forced to feature them smaller than I'd prefer. I always try and encourage people to send in their full-res versions, rather than screen-res. One thing I did want to ask everyone is, do you think having a picture of the month is important? Or would you prefer all the readers' images to be handled evenly? And don't forget to keep sending in your pictures to AN's gallery! Keith, AN
  11. I hear what you're saying about dark matter, but in the scientific paper the team put together they say that the total stellar mass of the outer arms is around 15 billion solar masses, which is about a quarter of the total mass of all the stars in M94. I can't recall the exact figures off the top of my head but our Milky Way is even bigger and has at least 250 billion solar masses worth of stars, and about three times as much dark matter in the halo, if not more. It's roughly the same ratio in other spiral galaxies, so this extra outer disc in M94 actually doesn't make that big a dent in its total mass; there's still plenty of dark matter there. It is an amazing picture from Jay though. Just amazing. The next time you look at M94 through the eyepiece, just think about how much of the galaxy you're not seeing!
  12. Just to clarify the situation for everyone, Telescope House's parent company BC&F will be at AstroFest representing Meade and supporting the many Meade retailers that will be at the show. We've never actually advertised Telescope House as attending AstroFest this year, so it is actually incorrect to state that they've dropped out, as we've never said they were going to attend in the first place. What we do have this year are 27 dealers, including 17 equipment dealers, and we've also added two new companies this year in the shape of Opticron and Astronomia. So there are no empty spaces at the show, and in fact we have more stands dedicated to astro gear than before. You can see the full list of exhibitors and their contact details on our website at Astrofest 2010 - Exhibition Also, I'm pleased to announce that this year sees the return of both Dr Brian May and Sir Patrick Moore to AstroFest, who will be taking the final slot in session 3 on the Saturday before doing a book signing upstairs that afternoon. So it is shaping up to a pretty good AstroFest, and I hope to see as many of you there as possible! Keith (AN Ed)
  13. Dunno about A-P, Televue etc, I'll have to ask and find out. Regarding the speakers, I suspect most of them have been asked; I agree someone like Adam or Robert Gendler would be superb to have over, I'll suggest them to Ian Ridpath. Funnily enough, the Town Hall changed its name a few years back to Kensington Conference and Events Centre, which I guess sounds a little more impressive and less parochial. I think they have some quite large diplomatic functions there, as there are some embassies nearby, so it does cater to events internationally.
  14. Well, all I can do is pass everyone's comments on to the organisers, which I will be sure to do, but I just want to address this bit. I think you've misunderstood what I said. I was talking about helping to persuade guest speakers from the US and elsewhere to come to AstroFest, not visitors in general. The only American visitor that I met at AstroFest was Noel Carboni. There were two gentleman from Sweden, someone from Latvia, and someone from Finland that I also met. The vast majority were from the UK and of course UK astronomers are our priority. I've always made it very clear when making Astronomy Now that UK astronomy is at the forefront of what we want to support and encourage. AstroFest is no different.
  15. Hi everyone, First, I hope everyone who went to AstroFest enjoyed it. Speaking to Ian Ridpath, he said that the Friday lectures were even better attended than usual, and Saturday was full as it always is, so it seems to have been a great success. Being stuck on the AN stand I didn't get to hear many of the talks, but from what I have been told they were pretty good too. And most of all, a big thank you to everyone who stopped by the AN stand and said hello or bought a subscription, and also thank you very much for all the compliments about the magazine. As for the venue... it is ok saying why not go to the Excel centre or the NEC, but for a start they are much more expensive to hire than Kensington. So to hire them out we would have to be able to guarantee enough attendees to make it viable. Ticket prices would increase and we would have to charge the exhibitors more money. Maybe five or six years ago when the economy was in great shape would have been a time to consider a move (I believe other venues in London and Birmingham were investigated but apparently none fulfilled our criteria), but with the current recession there isn't much sense in taking a gamble like that. And there's no guarantee that it will be as well attended – I'm frequently told that BAA and RAS meetings outside of London never do as well as in London. By moving, we would have to start from scratch and build up a new audience. At the moment, it is doing really well where it is, so it falls back to the old cliche: if it is not broke, why fix it? The other thing that is really important for an AstroFest venue is a lecture hall. No one can debate the fact that Kensington has a great lecture hall. I've been to the Excel Centre and the NEC for events, and as far as I am aware neither of them has a dedicated lecture hall, certainly not on the scale of Kensington. Considering the lectures are what we sell most of our tickets for, that has to be a major consideration. As for the reason it is in London, well actually there are a couple of reasons. First of all, it is already established there. Second, it is practical for the organisers. Third, it is a little bit easier to attract guests from the USA to London. And fourth, from what I'm told most of our exhibitors want to stay in London. Hey, I'm from the north so I'm certainly not London-centric – I think it would be great to have an AstroFest type event in Birmingham or Manchester, for example, so long as we could be sure that it would be as well attended and at an appropriate location. Maybe that is something for the future. Anyway, for those who did attend and enjoyed it, thanks for coming and I hope to see you there again next year. Kind regards, Keith
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