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Bad Astronomy Goes Hollywood!

cover of April 1998 Astronomy Magazine [ Note (added April 20, 2001): I wrote this page up in 1998. Since then, things have changed even more than I had thought. I now write a regular newspaper column, I'm finishing up a book based on this website, and I have been on the radio and TV numerous times. I still find all of this quite amazing, given that this website started with me railing against a couple of things I saw on TV in 1994. ;-) In the paragraph below I mention the site gets 100-200 hits a day. That was true then, but now the site is hit more than 5000 times a day, and 10,000 isn't all that uncommon. It's nice to know that so many people find this stuff interesting!]

When I started these web pages a couple of years ago, it was more of a lark than anything else. Things have changed! I am getting between 100-200 hits a day, with peaks near 400, I get a dozen or so emails a day asking questions or making comments, and I have been interviewed about the site on the radio, in newspapers, and on TV; I even did an interview with a pair of fifth graders for a school project!

It has always been an ambition of mine to write for the "legitimate" press, and now it has finally happened: Astronomy Magazine published an article of mine in their April 1998 issue. Titled "A Full Moon in Every Plot" (I originally titled it "Bad Astronomy Goes Hollywood"), it is about the top ten mistakes that movie writers make when they deal with issues astronomical. I have tried to keep the tone very much like my web pages, especially since the subject matter is so similar.

The issue sold out briskly (I can only assume because of my article ;-); so briskly in fact that I couldn't find an issue on the newsstand! The picture above is the cover of that issue, and clicking on it will send you to the magazine's web site. If you want to order a back issue, call them at 1-800-533-6644.

My URL and email address were published with the article, and I received a modest amount of feedback. Most people liked it, though I did get one letter through Snail Mail by a young girl accusing me of being the Grinch, taking away the fun of movies. I haven't written her back just yet, but I'd better phrase that reply very carefully! In the June 1998 issue (with Saturn on the cover) Astronomy published a couple of letters to the editor about the article. Both of them liked the article, which was gratifying, but what made it really special was that one was from famous science fiction author Joe Haldeman!. He wrote one of my favorite novels, "The Forever War", a "Catch-22" type novel about an interstellar war that lasts for a thousand years. I highly recommend reading it. Anyway, hearing from him really put a bounce in my step.

As for the future, I have a few other articles I am planning, and hopefully I have them sent to magazines soon. Stay Tuned!

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