All of S&T on DVD

Rumors have been flying around for months, but now it's official. Starting today, we're taking orders for The Complete Sky & Telescope: Seven Decade Collection.

Click above for full information on the DVD collection — and to order your own copy online.
Sky & Telescope
This set of eight DVD-ROMs includes every issue published from November 1941 through December 2009, plus a unified index for the complete set with full text search for every word ever printed.

I don't know if you're excited, but I sure am! For anyone interested in the history of astronomy, the back issues of Sky & Telescope are a goldmine. That's why the 3-by-6-foot bookcase containing bound volumes of all of S&T is the most precious resource in our offices — even more valuable than the thousands of books that have been acquired over the years both by the magazine as a whole and by the individual editors.

Here's modern astronomical theory starting when the expanding universe was a new, exciting theory. Read about the discovery of quasars, pulsars, and gamma-ray bursts as they happened, and the huge debates that raged (and still rage today) over the nature of these enigmatic objects.

Sky & Telescope
Here's modern professional astronomical technology from the inauguration of Palomar Observatory to the latest space telescope, from glass photographic plates to photomultiplier tubes to CCD cameras.

Here's all of spaceflight blow-by-blow, starting years before Sputnik. Everybody knows about Neil Armstrong's first footprints on the Moon, but do you remember when Ranger 7 sent back the first genuine close-up pictures of another celestial body? Read all about it in the September 1964 issue!

Sky & Telescope
Here's amateur telescopes from World War II surplus optics to Unitron refractors to commercial Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes. When were the first Go To telescopes sold? How long did they take to catch on? You can find the answers in S&T. Just browsing the advertisements is an exercise in history and nostalgia.

Don't think that those old articles are just for nostalgia, though. Hardly a week passes here at S&T when we don't get a call or an e-mail sounding something like this: "I remember reading about a clever design for a binocular mount sometime in the 1960s, and it sounds like just what I need in my backyard. Do you remember that article?"

Sky & Telescope
Anybody who's been to a "dark-sky site" knows that an unpolluted, moonless night sky is actually bright enough for you to walk around comfortably with no flashlight. But where does the light come from? Is it starlight, airglow, or something else? The best concise exposition of the subject that I know is an article called "The Sky and Eye" in the February 1958 issue.

Almost all the observing articles are timeless; the solar system and deep space have changed hardly at all in the last century. Sue French is writing wonderful Deep-Sky Wonders columns today, but before her the column was penned by the equally brilliant — and very different — Walter Scott Houston. Going out at night to observe all the objects in a Deep-Sky Wonders column is always rewarding, whether the column was written in 2010, 1975, or 1955.

Sky & Telescope
It will be great not to have to go over to that 3-by-6 bookcase whenever I want to look up an article. But you know the best thing about the DVD set? The fact that it's full-text searchable. I've listed above some of the treasures that I know exist in S&T back issues. I can't wait to find out what other treasures lie hidden there that I've never been able to find. Thumbing through 818 separate issues to find what I'm looking for isn't a very practical option!

Click here to read all the details of The Complete Sky & Telescope: Seven Decade Collection — and to order your copy!

24 thoughts on “All of S&T on DVD

  1. Roy RobinsonRoy Robinson

    Well, I’m devastated. DEVASTATED! My S&T collection, complete from July ’56 through to the present issue, is now a certified antiquity. With your subject index, I could plow through the stack and not only find what I was seeking (e.g., Buchroeder and Leonard’s semi-wierd telescope designs), but then reread the whole issue to get the context and feel for that period.

    Still, there are those first fifteen years…. And, how about “The Sky” and “The Telescope”, just to complete the pre-history of this publication?

    Just reading the ads from those early days and computing the present-day cost of the telescopes that were available then, makes one realize what a bargain our new instruments truly are.

  2. Bob Stine

    This is great news. You just may have made my Xmas gift!

    If you haven’t already, please post a sample issue online so that we can see how they will appear off the DVD. If already done, kindly say where to find it.

  3. Bernd Pauli

    I have just ordered my S&T collection on DVD and can hardly wait to meet my “good ol’ friend” Walter Scott Houston and his “Deep-Sky Wonders” again! Looking forward also to articles like this one in the Dec 1976 issue, pp. 410-414: “Golden Anniversary of Hubble’s Classification System” and so much more!

  4. David Oesper

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This is a dream come true. I don’t think I have every ordered anything so fast in all my life after first hearing about it. The amount and depth of information in S&T these past 70 years is just incredible, and now all of it will be just a few mouse clicks away. What a resource!

  5. Robert Provin

    I had a feeling this was coming when one of the last S&T questionnaires asked if there was interest in such an item. When the email came with the offer, I placed my order in record time. What a treasure this will be! Thank you S&T!

  6. Mike

    This sounds great but I’d love to see more details on the format used. It says they will be “printable & portable” but will you be able to copy articles or whole issues to PDF or some similar file type that can be read on a device without a DVD drive?

  7. Dan Bonis

    Still nothing like pulling out an old mag and flippin the pages! Feel and smell of an old mag cannot be replaced…especially when it’s yours…each time brings back lots of memories. But I do applaud a DVD set, thank you…my bookshelf won’t sag under the weight!

  8. Michael Boschat

    Arrrghhhhh!!! not more electronic publications!

    I have the old REAL paper issues form 1953 to present,
    well missing a few years BUT they are real and you can hold and smell the paper. It’s like film & digital cameras, yeah
    they are ok but I’d rather have something real to hold
    and see…not get radiation eyes 🙂


  9. Pete Jackson

    What is the significance of the difference between the versions when ordering for the USA, or for International. I spend 6 months a year in the US and six months a year in Ireland. What should I do?

  10. kook

    I grew up with S&T. This is totally awesome! I have been a subscriber for almost 40 yrs. and don’t have all my issues. Can’t wait to spend cloudy nights with my computer and these DVD’s.

  11. Lance

    I love the idea of having the electronic version of all S&T back issues, searchable and compact! However, I’m sure we’d all like to be informed of the detail. High resolution is mentioned, but is this in color? And what is defined as high resolution.
    As well, what is the format, and is it useable on ebook readers?

    Will I dispose of my collection of back issues (almost complete back to 1961) if I get the digital version? Heck no, I want the best of both worlds!

  12. Lance

    I love the idea of having the electronic version of all S&T back issues, searchable and compact! However, I’m sure we’d all like to be informed of the detail. High resolution is mentioned, but is this in color? And what is defined as high resolution.
    As well, what is the format, and is it useable on ebook readers?

    Will I dispose of my collection of back issues (almost complete back to 1961) if I get the digital version? Heck no, I want the best of both worlds!

  13. Jim

    As someone asked, need more info on format used before placing my order for these–what platforms can these be used on (PC and/or Mac?), and what operating systems are compatible (Windows XP, Windows 7, etc.)?? Thanks,

  14. David

    I am also asking for more information. I am very tempted but cannot justify spending $250 on something that may or may not be usable to me in the long term, and so I will not make a purchase until and if more information is available.

    In particular, I need to know:
    – what format are these in? PDF is preferred.
    – if not PDF, what operating systems are supported? Will there be free updates to ensure that future versions of Windows and MacOS are supported?
    – if not PDF, will there be some way of getting these onto an iPad or similar device so that I can read without being tied to my PC?

    Basically, I need to know whether I would be spending $250 for a short term toy or a resource that will be useful for a lifetime.

  15. Mike

    I was excited about this at first, but I just read the FAQ and am probably going to pass on this archive. The FAQ seems to confirm that you can print hardcopy but are otherwise tethered to the DVDs for viewing. Not to sound too negative, but I think the lack of any kind of e-reader/ipad/PDF support is a big mistake in this day and age. Just my 2 cents.

  16. David

    I have to agree with Mike, above. I was also excited but in finding out that I am stuck viewing these via a Flash app and will not be able to view on my iPad, my interest level is dropping rapidly. I will probably pass on this.

    S&T, please reconsider the format choices and release a PDF version; I’ll be sure to buy it.

  17. Ray

    First of all, I’ve been waiting for S&T to do something like this and I congratulate them for making at least a start. I plan on making the purchase. However, the whole DVD thing is “so five years ago” and it’s a little disappointing that a magazine that tries to report the latest Astronomical is so mired in the past when it comes to delivering the content.

    I’ll probably do what I’ve done in the past: rip the DVDs and used a virtual DVD player to display the content. For portability, I’ll print the content to PDF files. The physical DVDs will be relegated to the back of the closet ASAP.

    For me a better situation would have been for S&T to have put the collection in the Kindle store, where I could have displayed the content on my Kindle, iPad, and PC. I would’ve still paid the $249 for the convenience and flexibility and S&T would have gotten better protection for its IP, presumably a better return by eliminating the cost of the DVD set, and higher visibility and sales that the Kindle store would provide. I’d really would like to talk to the person that made the DVD decision and find out the reasons for going that route.

    Some of questions the FAQ didn’t answer:

    How will updates to the collection be handled?

    Any plans to add an archive of the web site content that isn’t covered in the print magazine?

    When will eReader subscriptions of the print version be available?

  18. David Oesper

    Now, how do we go about getting Popular Astronomy, which was published at Carleton College from 1893 to 1951, on DVD? It, too, like S&T, is an American treasure, and documents so much wonderful astronomical history, with many articles written by icons such as Henry Norris Russell, Edward Emerson Barnard, and so on. If the S&T DVD project sells well, would S&T be willing to take on the Popular Astronomy project?

  19. Richard Sanderson

    In response to Dan Bonis’s message in which he laments the fact that the new DVD set lacks the “feel and smell of an old mag” that he experiences with his Sky & Telescope collection, I can empathize. That musty magazine smell brings back memories for me, too. Perhaps my most treasured copy is a severely wrinkled issue from the 70s that I accidentally left outside all night on a lawn chair at Stellafane and found it dripping with dew the next morning. I honestly think Sky & Telescope missed the boat in not including a “scratch and sniff” on the DVD cases so that, while using the DVDs, we can still experience the olfactory pleasures of flipping through those old dusty copies that we’ve treasured for decades. In all seriousness, I think this DVD set is a priceless addition to the history of 20th century amateur astronomy, much of which has been lost over the years.

  20. Sean B.

    Is there a limitation on how many pages in an issue can be printed at once, and can they be printed to PDF? If not then this set’s format as described on the frequently asked questions page is a disappointment. Documents are comparatively easy to convert as time goes by. Eventually however there is always the risk that some method like appears to be used in hw this set operates will no longer be compatible with future operating systems. I bought the National Geographic set on CD-ROM when they originally came out and can no longer view them on my present machine because of the archaic conglomerate of “viewing tools” it forced on the user and that is what I fear will eventually happen with these.

All comments must follow the Sky & Telescope Terms of Use and will be moderated prior to posting. Please be civil in your comments. Sky & Telescope reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter’s username, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.