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 9500 copies. The Handbook has earned a reputation as a solid reference for amateur and professional astronomers alike, even in this Internet age with information literally at our fingertips. As a benefit of membership, every RASC member receives a copy in the autumn of each year. To some, it is just another book, but to many, the receipt of a new edition of the Handbook is a happy day indeed.
The number of Handbook editors has been surprisingly few, as some served for many years, and I am only the eighth! Now we serve very sensible terms of five years. I have "endured" a steep learning curve, but always knew I had the support and advice of the previous editors, three of whom have helped tremendously, especially Dave Chapman, who so graciously allowed me to pick his brain! In addition, the large and diverse team of contributors, copy editors, assistants, and proofreaders—all volunteers—are the safety net, and 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. The Handbook 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.
We have a few contributor names to add and subtract: one very important person we lost is Geoff Gaherty, who suddenly passed away just as we were starting into the 2017 edition. Geoff wrote the left-hand pages of the SKY MONTH BY MONTH section for two Handbook editions—I dedicate this issue to his memory. Matthew
Templeton of the AAVSO has gone on to other endeavours. We welcome new contributors: Michele Arenburg, taking over from me in the OBSERVATORIES, STAR PARTIES, AND PLANETARIA section, plus “doing” the INDEX and proofreading; Scott Donnell and Edwin Goffin (PLANETARY OCCULTATIONS); Hugh Pett (RADIO
ASTRONOMY AND RADIO SOURCES); and Ulisse Munari (VARIABLE STARS). In addition, we have a new article on SPECTROSCOPY OF STARS by Chris Corbally, Richard Gray, and Toomas Karmo.
Honorary Member Dra. Julieta Fierro provided the GUEST EDITORIAL.
2016 September 15