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Frequently Asked Questions


1. Is this the only journal of its kind? If not, what others are there?
2. How is the journal being paid for?
3. What kind of people do you anticipate a. reading b. submitting to the journal?
4. Is there a reason why the journal has been launched at this particular time?
5. Why is communicating astronomy to the public important?

6. How many CAPjournals are printed every issue?





1. Is this the only journal of its kind?  If not, what others are there?

There are many thousands of journals and magazines around, but in some ways this initiative is a bit special. We know of two science communication journals that are also issued in printed form – something we find very important as communicators, such as ourselves, tend to spend far too many hours in front of the computer screen – "Public Understanding of Science" (Sage) and "Science Communication" (Sage). These journals however have (partly) a broader scope covering all of science communication, but are also somewhat narrower as they focus on theoretical issues and mainly have "research-type" articles. We encourage other type of articles, like "hands-on" articles, and welcome announcements, reviews, innovations, etc. For astronomy educators there is an excellent online journal called Astronomy Education Review, http://aer.noao.edu. CAPjournal and AER are complementary and together they provide important resources for the astronomy educational and public outreach community.


2. How is the journal being paid for?
Currently the CAPjournal is being run by volunteers doing the editorial work, the web site, marketing, distribution, design/prepress etc. Also the peer-reviewers are volunteers (as for the more "standard" scientific journals). The print costs for the first few issues are sponsored by the European Souther Observatory, European Space Agency's Hubble Space Telescope group and the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology, and we are currently fund-raising for the longer term. The costs are not astronomical as the reader base is limited. We would not expect the journal to grow to much more than 2000 copies from the current level of 150.


3. What kind of people do you anticipate reading and submitting to the journal?
The target group of the CAPjournal consists of all types of astronomy communicators – from Public Information Officers, planetarium or science centre staff, amateur astronomers to communicating scientists. We naturally hope that most readers will consider contributing, but in reality it may be the more experienced communicators that do; or those who take the effort to document their experiences – good or bad – in communicating astronomy with the public.


4. Is there a reason why the journal has been launched at this particular time?
First of all the astronomy communication community has grown steadily over the past years. Perhaps this has been more prominent outside the US, i.e. in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. In these areas there is a stronger focus on the public obligation to communicate scientific results to the public. Secondly the International Year of Astronomy 2009 was by far the largest astronomy communication initiative in history, with more than 200 countries and organisations participating in it. It is clear from the IYA2009 experience that all these nations and individuals need to establish methods to communicate internally. The community naturally uses lots of the modern informal communication tools like emails, forums, blogs, but the more formalised – and peer-reviewed – journal type of disseminating information is still very much alive. The next few years will be extremely important for astronomy communication and education.


5. Why is communicating astronomy to the public important?
Astronomy has a very special place in the area of science communication, and, as a tool to communicate science, astronomy possesses almost magical powers. Astronomy touches on the largest philosophical questions facing the human race: Where do we come from? Where will we end? How did life arise? Is there life elsewhere in the Universe? Space is one of the greatest adventures in the history of mankind: an all-action, violent arena with exotic phenomena that are counter-intuitive, spectacular, mystifying, intriguing and fascinating. The science of astronomy is extremely fast moving, and delivers new results on a daily basis. We strongly believe that astronomy, in many ways, can lead the way for other natural sciences and be a front runner for the communication of science in general. The public communication of astronomy provides an important link between the scientific astronomical community and society, giving visibility to scientific success stories and supporting both formal and informal science education.


6. How many CAPjournals are printed every issue?
We print 1500 copies which we distribute to our Mailing List. However the PDF format reaches more than 2500 subscribers in addition.