Last-modified: $Date: 2000/05/17 23:02:30 $
Version: $Revision: 4.1 $
sci.astro and groups in the sci.astro.* hierarchy are newsgroups for
the discussion of astronomical topics. This post documents the topics
generally accepted as appropriate as well as guidelines for posting in
these groups. New readers (as well as more experienced ones!) are
encouraged to review this material with the hope that it will maximize
their use and enjoyment of the astronomy newsgroups.
This post is an extract of the material found in the sci.astro FAQ.
The FAQ is posted on a regular basis to the newsgroup sci.astro. It
is available via anonymous ftp from
it is on the World Wide Web at
<URL:http://www.faqs.org/faqs/astronomy/faq/>. A partial list of
worldwide mirrors (both ftp and Web) is maintained at
<URL:http://sciastro.astronomy.net/mirrors.html>. (As a general note,
many other FAQs are also available from
The material in this document was contributed by
Philippe Brieu <email@example.com>,
Walter I. Nissen, Jr. CDP <firstname.lastname@example.org>, and
Steven Willner <email@example.com, with editing by
Joseph Lazio <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Subject: What are the astro newsgroups about?
There are eight groups in the sci.astro hierarchy:
sci.astro Astronomy discussions and information.
sci.astro.seti The Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI)
sci.astro.amateur Amateur astronomy equipment, techniques, info, etc.
sci.astro.fits Issues related to the Flexible Image Transport System.
sci.astro.hubble Processing Hubble Space Telescope data. (Moderated)
sci.astro.planetarium Discussion of planetariums.
sci.astro.research Forum in astronomy/astrophysics research. (Moderated)
Visual observing of artificial satellites
By default, everything that is related to astronomy/astrophysics and
is NOT covered by one of the other sci.astro.* groups is acceptable
for posting in sci.astro. If something belongs in one of those
groups, then it does NOT belong in sci.astro and should NOT be
(cross)posted there. In particular, this includes all amateur
observations, hardware, software, and trade (see sci.astro.amateur).
The sci.astro hierarchy is NOT the appropriate forum for
* metaphysical discussions (try alt.paranet.metaphysics);
* astrology (alt.astrology); or
* creationism (talk.origins for that).
These are science groups, not religion, sociology, or philosophy (even
of science) groups.
In addition, a number of topics related to astrophysics are better
suited for other groups. For instance, elementary particle physics
should be discussed in sci.physics.particle (but discussions of
astronomical consequences are welcome in sci.astro). Likewise for
photons and the speed of light (sci.physics). Finally, all space
related issues (e.g. spacecraft and faster than light/time travel)
have a home in the sci.space.* hierarchy (but astronomical results
from space missions are welcome).
Subject: What are the guidelines for posting on astro newsgroups?
Ask yourself: Is this post about the science of astronomy? Will many
of the thousands and thousands of readers here, people interested in
the science of astronomy, find it of personal benefit? Has somebody
else recently posted a similar article? If your query or comment is
unique and concerns astronomy, post; otherwise, either there is
probably a better newsgroup for your post or your question has already
If you will follow this group for a month or so before posting here,
you will greatly reduce the likelihood that you will participate in
making the newsgroup less productive and friendly and then end up
regretting it. If you are new here, it is likely that any question
you have has already been asked. If so, its answer is probably in one
of the FAQ files. Check out the newsgroups news.answers, sci.answers,
and news.announce.newusers, or ask your local help file or
administrator to point you toward the FAQs. Alternately, it may be in
a Usenet archive such as DejaNews, <URL:http://www.dejanews.com/>. If
you become really frustrated, pick on one of the more helpful posters
here and send e-mail (not a post) politely asking for some help.
Conversely, if your question is novel and not in a FAQ, readers will
likely be intensely interested in considering it.
Certain topics repeatedly come up and lead to lengthy, loud-mouthed
discussions that never lead anywhere interesting. Often these topics
have extremely little to do with the science of astronomy. Experience
also shows that when messages are cross-posted to other groups,
followups very seldom are appropriate in sci.astro.
If you do ask a question, please consider writing up the answer for a
FAQ file. New entries to the FAQ are always welcome!
Moreover, there are a number of common rules for all newsgroups. If
you are a new Usenaut, please visit the newsgroup
news.announce.newusers for an introduction to the Usenet.
Subject: How do I subscribe to sci.astro*?
(This question has been answered offline enough times that I thought
it would be worthwhile to include it here. The FAQ is distributed
widely enough that people may happen upon it through non-Usenet
In order to access sci.astro (or other astronomy newsgroups), you need
an internet service provider (ISP). This could be a large commercial
provider, like AOL or Prodigy in the U.S., or a more local one (check
your phonebook under "Computer Networks" or "Internet"). If you're
enrolled at a college or university in the U.S. (or overseas?), talk
to your computer center; many colleges and universities are now
providing free Internet access to students. If you don't have an ISP,
you'll have to choose one. If you're interested in reading the
sci.astro* groups, as you search for an ISP, you'll want to ask the
various contenders if they provide access to Usenet and specifically
to the sci. hierarchy. If they don't, or can't tell you, that's a bad
If you already have an ISP, you'll have to read their documentation or
talk to their technical help. Some ISPs provide Usenet access through
a Web browser (like Mosaic, Netscape, or Internet Explorer), others
provide access through a dedicated news reading program like tin, rn,
or GNUS. There are many different possibilities.