Popular Astronomy writer’s guide

Popular Astronomy is the quarterly magazine of Britain’s Society for Popular Astronomy. Before 1981 the magazine was called Hermes, after the messenger of the gods. PA has an international reputation as one of the best, brightest and most informative astronomy publications. If you’re thinking about contributing to PA, please read through some recent copies to get to know the kind of articles we like, their types and subject ranges.

We’re always happy to receive original articles on all aspects of astronomy and space exploration. We’re interested in astronomical investigations and observations, items of historical interest, society news, the latest astronomy news, and your views. If you can think of it, and it’s related to astronomy, PA can find a place for it! But please note – we have no editorial budget, so no payment for articles or illustrations is possible.

Your style of writing should be aimed at those who do not necessarily possess a specialised knowledge of astronomy. Many SPA members are beginners, new to astronomy and its myriad terms and jargon. When introducing difficult subjects, try to explain the principles involved as clearly and as simply as you can.

Please note that we never accept articles for use on this website, whether or not you pay us.

Ask the Editor

Please suggest any ideas to the Editor before committing to writing an article. Your article may complement plans we have, or it may duplicate material already commissioned, repeat something already published, or it may not be suitable. Articles should be no longer than 2300 words.

Submitting material

Please send articles in either text or Word format (not pdf) via email to editor@popastro.com.

Our articles are always well illustrated, usually with three or four attractive images (and preferably not graphs!) per 1000 words. Images should be sent as separate attachments and not embedded in the Word document. They should be of the highest resolution possible and include an image credit or permission. You must be sure that either you have permission to use the image or it is copyright free. Don’t assume that because it is on the web it is free to use!

Bear in mind that an image that works on a web page will be far too small for print use. Our printers require a resolution of 350 pixels per inch of size reproduced. So a web image 700 pixels wide will only reproduce two inches wide – not even a single column width.

Check your copy for spelling errors, particularly of people’s names. Capitalise proper nouns only. For magnification, state x100 (not 100x). For observation timings, please state time in the 21:45 UT format (not 21h 45m) and dates in the format 30 March 2020. State measurements in metric, not imperial units, eg 150 mm reflector. Our Sun and our Galaxy should have capital letters, but other suns and galaxies do not. The Universe should also have a capital letter. It is galactic disc, but computer disk.

Copyright questions

Original text and image material remains the copyright of the author/artist, and may be used freely by the author/artist at a later date. When using other people’s observations it is the responsibility of the author to secure permission from the observer in question before submitting it.

Most NASA images are public domain and copyright free.

The Editor will acknowledge all submissions to PA promptly, and we’ll communicate our acceptance or rejection within a reasonable period. Once your submission is accepted, the Editor will consult the author or artist if necessary, to make changes or amendments, although we reserve the right to edit the material to suit the presentation and available space. It’s our aim to produce a readable article in good English. In any disputes, the judgement of the Editor will be final.

Good writing!