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Yarker astronomer runs respected, popular Canadian stargazing magazine

Ontario East

 

When amateur stargazers want a uniquely Canadian view on astronomy they turn to a Yarker-based magazine run by one of Canada’s most famous astronomers.

Terence Dickinson’s SkyNews (www.skynews.ca), which features news on celestial events seen in Canadian skies, remarkable night sky photos, and Canadian profiles, boasts 24,000 subscribers as it celebrates publication of its 100th issue.

“It’s not a big profit maker, but it’s a business, we pay our bills and all of our staff, and we put out what we think is a great product—and we do it in Lennox and Addington County,” says Dickinson, who has edited SkyNews since 1995.

Co-owned by Dickinson and publisher Belleville-area-based Greg Keilty, SkyNews employs about 10 people, including writers, copy editors, and graphic designers and has grown from a free six-page newsletter to its current 48- to 56- page glossy colour magazine format.

That’s no small feat in today’s tough Canadian magazine market.

Dickinson and Keilty keep overhead costs low. All staff are part-timers and work from their homes across Canada and the magazine is printed in Winnipeg.

Dickinson’s wife Susan, who is also Canadian Geographic’s chief copy editor, is SkyNews’ chief copy editor; the graphic designer who lays out the pages is in Kingston; and the associate editor is in Calgary.

“We’ve never had a staff meeting,” jokes Dickinson.

The only Canadian popular science news magazine sold on newsstands, SkyNews started out as a federal government-funded newsletter published by the National Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa.

Dickinson was hired as editor in 1995, but when federal government austerity measures arrived in 1999, the magazine wasn’t yet making a profit, so it was put on the chopping block.

Keilty and Dickinson, who has published 14 astronomy books and who was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1995 for his contributions to astronomy, bought SkyNews and have built it into the successful and respected magazine that it is today.

“We are very fortunate to have a renowned astronomy magazine published from our community,” says Stephen Paul, Manager of Economic Development for Lennox and Addington County. “Terence Dickinson is very talented and Lennox and Addington County provides his company with an environment to succeed.”

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