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Astronomy magazine: 40 years and counting

Astronomy leads the astronomy hobby as the most popular magazine of its kind in the world
Little did Steve Walther know that his brainchild would turn into the greatest magazine about astronomy in the world. At 29, the ambitious graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point launched a periodical about his first love, the stars. The first issue, August 1973, held 48 pages and five feature articles, plus information about what to see in the night sky that month. Walther had grown up in the Milwaukee area and taken jobs in public relations after college, always at least dabbling in his beloved pursuit of astronomy. He worked part time as a planetarium lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and developed a keen interest in photographing constellations. His gift to the world would live on, but, sadly, he would not. With the magazine catching on rapidly, Walther threw a party for contributing authors, photographers, and sponsors in the summer of 1976. Beside a pool, surrounded by drinks and hors d’oeuvres, talking his best game with his closest friends, Steve Walther collapsed, insensible. He died the following year, the victim of a brain tumor.

Astronomy magazine is really a story of the people behind it. Dedicated by an obsession with the subject of astronomy, they are driven to assemble the best, most-absorbing material relating to the world of astronomy with every page they have. Names such as Walther, Berry, Maas, and Burnham long ago established the magazine’s stable foundation; the future will expand on this terrific first 40 years. Names you see in the magazine today will carry on this tradition of excellence. I am honored to work with each of our editors every day. Keep a close eye on their work in the pages of Astronomy; they are the stars of tomorrow. I think Steve Walther would be proud of them. I know that I am.