The mission statement of MeteorNews: “Minimizing overhead and editing constraints to assure a swift exchange of information dedicated to all fields of active amateur meteor work.”
The historic context
Meteor work flourished where pioneers in the 19th century published about their work and results. It is remarkable to see how the popularity of meteor astronomy in certain countries got stimulated by the availability of meteor literature. Not the countries with the most favorable weather circumstances, but the countries with many publications about meteors saw the greatest observing efforts. The U.K. with its rainy and often overcast skies took a leading role while other nations with splendid observing conditions remained without awareness about meteor observing. Wherever someone started writing about meteor astronomy in some language interest was raised in the topic for readers of this language.
This situation remained until the late 20th century when more people got access to professional literature and were reading in English. Several amateur meteor journals in different languages existed from the 1970ies and 1980ies, most have meanwhile disappeared. With the internet a completely new medium became available to share news and results. Unfortunately, more and more online professional journals disappear behind the paywall with astronomical fees to obtain simple pdf copies of some articles. In some cases, authors must pay significant amounts of money to get a paper published. While access to professional literature got restricted, most amateur meteor journals had ceased to exist. Most professional journals follow strict reviewing and editing procedures and some magazines have a bad reputation of postponing publications.
Beginning of 2016 a number of amateur meteor observers decided that we had to be able to publish and to share our work in order not to depend on slow and unreliable publishers. The solution was found in a hybrid publication with immediate pre-publication online on a website combined with a more traditional online journal in PDF.
After a testing period and very encouraging positive response from the meteor community, it was obvious for everyone involved that MeteorNews fulfilled a very useful function. The quick preliminary online publication excludes delays in publication, while the more elaborated and well edited PDF version preserves the traditional quality of a scientific journal. One concern for online publications is the long-term availability. This availability is guaranteed as all the relevant content of eMeteorNews is being indexed with the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System. All bibliographic records are uploaded with a PDF version of each article: https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/search/q=bibstem%3AeMetN.
In the first 5 years that MeteorNews exists many authors discovered its advantages and both amateurs and professionals have published in MeteorNews. The readership grew worldwide with hundreds of different visitors per day from all over the world for the website and more than 600 subscribers to the weekly Newsletter. It is obvious that the creation of MeteorNews was a good idea.
How to publish with MeteorNews?
We welcome input from amateurs and professional meteor workers. MeteorNews is the place to share observing reports about visual, video and radio observations, fireballs and particular meteors, as well as elaborated analyses of observational data, more theoretical oriented articles and technical notes. There are three types of publication possible:
- Content which appears only on the website, not in the PDF journal, such as observing instructions, announcements, exceptional meteor events documented by video’s and online pictures, etc.;
- Articles which appear as a preliminary publication online in a simple html lay out as soon as the author(s) deliver the text for publication. Elaborated articles will be included in the PDF journal;
- Papers which are for some reason not suitable for publication in html on the website may be published directly in the first next pdf issue, without any pre-publication online.
MeteorNews fulfills an educational task, in the sense that amateurs with little or no experience with publishing articles and reports are encouraged to make their first attempts to share their results and gain experience by regularly posting about their work. The purpose is that each author works autonomously. Some assistance can be provided by more experienced editors if required.
- Occasional contributors can send their content to one of the editors.
- Regular contributors are invited to ask an editor account to post articles directly by themselves. Contact the MeteorNews account administrator Richard Kacerek (rickzkm at gmail.com).
What should a good article look like?
When you write an article, always remember that an uninformed reader will not fully understand the information that you provide if you are not clear to the point in your text. Pay attention to the following aspects:
- Make sure the title of your article is well chosen, a title should include some keywords, but should not be a sentence;
- A good structure is necessary to write a readable article. Divide your article in sections with appropriate section titles like “Introduction”, “Method”, “Results”, “Conclusions” and References.
- Avoid using abbreviations, be aware most readers cannot guess what you mean with abbreviations;
- Pay attention to graphics and images, remember that these must be reproduced. Too small characters, too fine lines, etc. become invisible in some cases. Always prepare your images large enough, 2x to 3x larger than the actual reproduction size in order to preserve enough details. Keep your graphics simple with a minimum of text and symbols (use large fonts). The explanation of what is in the graph must be in the caption, not in the graph itself. If you use Excel to prepare graphs, then provide the underlying Excel sheet for the editing of the pdf journal.
- Pay attention to cite references correctly. A reference list is not just a list of interesting literature, each listed reference should be cited in the article where it is applicable.
A decent article should include the following elements:
- A short title (mandatory);
- Name of author(s) (mandatory);
- Affiliation or contact address(es) of the author(s) and e-mail address (optional);
- An abstract or summary of the article (mandatory, a must for articles);
- The article itself should be structured with different sections (mandatory);
- Pictures and graphics (a caption with the description of what is shown is mandatory);
- Acknowledgment (optional);
- References (optional).
If you have a relative long and elaborated contribution it may be worth the effort to prepare this as a Word document. In such cases we recommend to using the Word template for MeteorNews. Save this dotx file on your computer. In Word you find under ‘File’ – ‘Options’ – ‘Add ins’, here at the bottom you see ‘Manage’ select ‘Templates’ & click ‘Go’ in the tab ‘Templates browse to select the eMeteorNews dotx file. Make sure to mark ‘Automatically update document styles’.
As soon as some content is received by an editor, it will be published as soon as possible on the MeteorNews.net website. The review of the contribution involves independent experts and an advisory board may be consulted in particular cases.
Every now and then a selection of articles collected on the website will be assembled as a journal in PDF which will be archived with the ADS abstract service. All papers published in MeteorNews.net and its PDF journal eMeteorNews will be archived with the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System for consultation and reference purposes.
The copyright of articles published in MeteorNews remains with the authors. MeteorNews is not associated with any commercial publisher, organization or society, but is a complete independent medium created to improve the exchange of results among meteor workers.