Who Are We?
Quasar Publishing consists of the three authors of the yearbooks: Glenn Dawes, Peter Northfield and Ken Wallace (Glenn and Ken in Sydney and Peter, in more recent years, based in Echuca, Vic). Prior to this venture we had no experience with self-publishing (also, during this experience we are pleased we still have our full time day jobs!). Our backgrounds stem from a long love affair with the night sky dating back to the 70s, 60s... (Well as long as we can remember).
This amateur interest lead to us becoming long term members of the Astronomical Society of NSW (ASNSW). This association not only fostered our interest in all aspects of amateur astronomy but lead to developing our skills in communicating through the various public field nights and the society's publications (we also developed talents in brick laying, cement mixing and metal working but that's another story). This experience with the general public, and the exploring of their needs, formed the platform on which the yearbook concept emerged in the late 80s.
Our first yearbook was produced for 1991 and we have produced the book every year since. The 1991 venture was somewhat primitive, and looks nothing like our recent attempts. The book has evolved (the word 'experiment' comes to mind) over the years and a lot of its current features can be attributed to the kind feedback from many of our supporters. This includes not only fellow amateurs but also educators and numerous members of the public.
Why have we written these Books?
Some time ago the three of us recognised the need for a book of this type specifically written for Australia. Previous to the Quasar books there were a few publications produced by local amateur astronomical societies but these had limited production runs and availability and tended to be too technical for the true beginner. We recognised a need for a yearbook that would be useful to anyone interested in the night sky no matter what their level of knowledge. Unfortunately the commercial aspect couldn't be ignored so a financial gamble was taken to move away from the centre folded and stapled black & white jobs to the colourful, attractive publication you see today. We feel this was a successful move and we hope our readers agree with this.
It has been stated that there are various magazines around that will describe what is in the sky next month, so why produce these books?
Yes this is true, however many of these publications can be potentially confusing for someone starting out on their exploration of the universe. Most of them have been written for the Northern Hemisphere because this is where the majority of their readers reside. Although some do make the effort of including all sky charts for the Southern Hemisphere most of the 'Sky View like' diagrams and descriptions are as the sky looks from the United States. For example the orientation of the constellations setting in the western (or rising in the eastern) sky, as seen from the central latitudes of the USA, are quite different to that seen from "down under". The constellations we see looking towards the north are upside-down from the Northern Hemisphere and are in their southern sky. Because most of the constellations were conceived from the north, from Australia we see the constellation of Orion, the hunter, standing on his head (one of many with the same problem).
There are other traps for beginners. An American based magazine in early 2001, indicated that Mars' southern declination that summer would make that opposition less than favourable. This was because it would be closer to the southern horizon (even at its best) and the potential for a good view would be difficult because of the thicker atmosphere one would have to look through. The article made no mention for what part of the world this article was written for. Well this description might be true from the Northern Hemisphere, however Mars' southerly declination will favour us in the south, putting it high in our northern sky. Also the typical northern bias has emerged. It might be summer for them, for Australia it is winter.
These are just a few examples of why the Quasar Yearbooks, written specifically for Australians, are so invaluable.
Please contact us if you have any queries, questions, or comments.