Submitting Photos to Sky & Telescope (FAQ)

Amateur astronomers' images of celestial objects enhance the content and appearance of articles throughout Sky & Telescope magazine. In addition, each monthly issue's Gallery department showcases amateurs' finest astrophotos. We publish astronomical images taken by amateurs regardless of age, gender, nationality, level of experience, or equipment used — and whether or not they subscribe to the magazine.

This page answers frequently asked questions (FAQs) from amateurs interested in submitting astronomical images to Sky & Telescope.

What kinds of images does the magazine look for?

Astronomical images submitted to Sky Publishing should be inherently interesting and aesthetically appealing, but need not be of a scientific nature. Typical S&T subjects include the Sun, Moon, planets, constellations, deep-sky objects (star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies), eclipses, conjunctions, meteors, occultations, rainbows, halos, auroras, and landscapes including one or more celestial objects. In addition to our Gallery showcase, we use amateur images on the magazine's cover, as illustrations for articles, our Web site, in books, and in other products.

Images depicting people, observatories, equipment will not be considered unless they are submitted as part of a proposal for an article to which they are relevant. This applies to paintings, drawings, and other artwork too.

Ultimately, the decision to use a particular image will depend greatly on the quality of your picture and how it fits in with our schedule of upcoming articles and compares with materials already in our files. Prospective contributors should review several recent issues of the magazine to determine our photographic style and preferences.

As a matter of editorial policy, Sky Publishing does not and will not knowingly publish images that are fraudulent or misleading. Composites and photo-illustrations are always described as such.

How do I submit my images?

When submitting photographs, keep your negatives and original slides (transparencies). Send only digital files, high-quality scans, or duplicate slides. If we need your originals, we'll ask for them.

For initial inquiries by e-mail, you may scan your negatives or prints and include the digital files as JPEG attachments. Send only low-resolution images sufficient for viewing, say 1,280 x 800 pixels in size at a resolution of 72 dots per inch (dpi). If we wish to use your images, we may ask for the high-resolution original photo.

When we ask for publication-quality images obtained with digital cameras or astronomical CCD cameras, please send us your full-frame, full-resolution files, preferably in TIFF format. You may send high-resolution files via e-mail or on a CD-ROM, or file transfer via our FTP site.

Images of transient events such as eclipses, meteor showers, occultations, or conjunctions should be submitted at the earliest possible time, as we often try to cover such events in the issue then already in production. Images may be in color or black and white. Aside from prints, we accept all film formats (35-mm, medium format, and 4 x 5 transparencies).

When using a digital camera to capture the Sun, Moon, or planets, remember to use the camera's highest-quality image setting (minimum JPEG compression or, preferably, TIFF). Consult your camera manual if you're not sure how to do this. If you rename a JPEG file, please use Rename rather than Save As, or you'll inadvertently double the JPEG compression. Feel free to provide a print of how you would like the image to appear. Don't send multiple images that are virtually the same — edit your selection and limit what you send us to "the best of the best" for consideration.

If we accept any of your images, you may send us the high-resolution files either as e-mail attachments or on a CD or Zip disk. Or you may upload your images to an FTP site and send us the address by e-mail so we can go there and download them.

In the rare event that we request your original materials, please consider using registered mail or other traceable means of shipment and insuring them accordingly.

What information should I include with my submission?

In the cover letter give your complete contact information (full name, mailing address, daytime and evening phone numbers, fax number, and e-mail address), as well as the details of your imaging setup (kind of telescope, camera, ISO, or filters used, as well as exposure times and any special techniques involved — tricolor, mosaic, multiple exposure, video stacking). For convenience, use our image submission form.

Label each slide frame, print, negative sleeve, diskette, or CD clearly with your name and phone number.

Indicate in your letter whether you'd like to have the materials returned. Returns will be expedited if you supply us with a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) or mailer of appropriate size and with sufficient return postage. Submissions not accompanied by an SASE or postage-paid mailer will take much longer to return.

Where should I send my pictures?

Sean Walker, Imaging Editor
Sky & Telescope
90 Sherman St.
Cambridge, MA 02140 U.S.A.

If you want to e-mail low-resolution digital files to our Gallery department, send them to gallery (at) SkyandTelescope.com.

How will I know if my images have been received?

Due to the volume of submissions we receive, we can only acknowledge images that have been chosen to be published in a pending issue. But if you send e-mail to gallery (at) SkyandTelscope.com, you will get an automatic response that your e-mail has been received.

Will Sky Publishing pay me for my picture(s)?

Generally, yes. Except for those featured in Gallery, almost all amateur astro images used in the magazine are paid for according to the size at which they are reproduced. A copy of our payment rates is available upon request. Payment is initiated upon publication of the picture(s).

Astro imagers whose work is featured in Gallery at any size will receive payment of $50 USD.

What else do I get for the use of my images?

You will get credit for each picture in the caption or credit line, as well as two complimentary copies of the issue in which your picture appears.

What happens if my materials get lost or damaged?

Sky Publishing is not responsible for unsolicited submissions that get lost or damaged in the mail.

For solicited submissions, the company only accepts financial responsibility for lost or damaged original materials where a reasonable value has been predetermined and agreed upon by the photographer (or his/her agent) and Sky Publishing, and where the agreed-upon value is recorded in a letter of agreement signed by both parties.

By receiving submissions, Sky Publishing does not automatically accept or agree to the conditions and stipulations printed on delivery memos, packing slips, and related correspondence, unless such terms have been prearranged, executed in writing, and signed by the photographer (or his/her agent) and Sky Publishing prior to the shipment of the said materials.

Sky Publishing tries to do its best to safeguard all submissions. However, due to the large volume of mail we receive each day, we cannot guarantee that no loss or damage will occur. However, such incidents are certainly the exception rather than the rule.

Do I retain the copyright to my published images?

Yes, you retain full ownership of your images. Sky Publishing will send you a release form, called a Publishing Agreement, which you must sign and return before we can publish your images. Basically, it's a legal contract that states you're the actual photographer of the image and that you're giving permission to Sky Publishing for a one-time, non-exclusive use of your image in our print and electronic media.

We will notify you if we decide to use your image in some way other than you intended when you submitted it. The same goes if we wish to reuse it for a different article, department, or issue.

What if I change my mind and decide to withdraw my submission?

You should inform Sky Publishing in writing as soon as possible. Your materials will then be returned to you promptly.

Is it OK to submit my images to other publications?

Sky & Telescope like all magazines, prefers unique content. Therefore we ask you not to submit your images elsewhere until you have heard back from us as to whether we intend to use them.

Does Sky Publishing play favorites, or are you open to all contributors?

When we do our initial selection of images for a particular article, we don't pay attention to the names of the photographers — we base our choices solely on the merits of each image. This is especially true for our Gallery and Skyscapes departments. The reason you see certain photographers' names appearing repeatedly in our pages is that they submit images to us on a regular basis. Remember, we cannot publish your images unless you send them to us!

I was told you plan to use one of my pictures. When?

Usually within a few months, maybe more. Owing to the limited number of pages available in any given issue of the magazine, we cannot publish all the superb images that we receive. Even having your images accepted for serious consideration doesn't guarantee that they'll get published.

Will Sky Publishing compensate me for holding on to my images?

No. We do not pay holding fees for images that have been put on file with a photographer's consent. If you need your materials returned promptly, follow the instructions given earlier.

How long will it take before I get my materials back?

Sky & Telescope does not return submitted materials unless specifically requested. Please don't take it personally if your image doesn't get accepted. We publish only 12 issues a year, and the selection process is unforgiving. Your best bet is to keep trying.

Those images that have been accepted for consideration but didn't make it to the current issue are considered for use in subsequent issues. That's why an image sometimes takes a while to make it into print. We don't deliberately hang on to your materials without your expressed consent.

If you have any questions not answered by this guide, please contact us. Thanks for your interest in Sky & Telescope!

Sean Walker
Imaging Editor
+1 617-864-7360, ext. 2105
swalker@SkyandTelescope.com
Sky & Telescope
90 Sherman St..
Cambridge, MA 02140, U.S.A.
Fax: +1 617-864-6117