Editor's Corner

The Observer’s Handbook is one of Canada’s oldest scientific publications, having first appeared in 1907. It soon became a regular publication and now enjoys an annual print run of 10,000 copies. It has a reputation as a solid reference for amateur and professional astronomers alike. Each RASC member receives a copy in the late fall of each year as a benefit of membership. The day the new edition of the Handbook arrives is a happy day indeed.

There have been surprisingly few Handbook editors, mainly because some served for many years—I am only the 8th in 110 years. Even though the learning curve was steep, I always knew the support and advice of the previous editors was never more than a call away. In addition, the large and diverse team of contributors, copy editors, assistants, and proofreaders—all volunteers—are the safety net. I don't do this alone.. Producing the Handbook every year is truly a community effort of volunteers from all over.

Nothing is altered without consultation, and the overall guiding principle is that the Observer’s Handbook is a handbook for observers. This is your Handbook, and we welcome suggestions, comments, and the occasional pat on the back. We have been entrusted with maintaining tradition while embracing new technology, all the while seeking the right balance between the two.

With each new edition, we get new contributors and some drop away. We thank those people who give so willingly of their time to make this Handbook a great success. While we bid adieu to Michele Arenburg, Scott Donnell, Edwin Goffin, Ulisse Munari, and James Stamm, at the same time, we welcome these new contributors and assistants, Pierre Paquette is back as a Proofreader, and we have three new names added to the Variable Stars Section: Joseph E. Rodriguez, Joshua Pepper, and Keivan Stassun.

Early in 2017, the RASC Publications Committee (myself included) decided to create, for the first time, a USA Edition of the Handbook. Much new material is added to replace some of the more Canada-centric examples and tables. Joining with us in this enterprise is the Astronomical League, whose president and members contributed or suggested ways to improve the Handbook for the American audience. I think those changes will make for an interesting symbiosis. We look forward to more such collaborations in the future!

Melville, Saskatchewan

2017 December 11

Last modified: 
Monday, December 11, 2017 - 5:43pm