By Dave Gill
January 28, 2007
HORIZON started in the summer of 1983 as part of a fledgling club. The WCAC itself was organized in the early months of 1983. Over the years it grew from a typewritten letter to one done on a dot matrix printer to one laid out with desktop publishing software by someone with little artistic talent (uh, that would be me...). Then, John Waechter transformed it into a stylish-looking publication. Phil Hoyle took over its editing a couple of years ago, and we made the transition to a PDF-only publication in the fall of 2005.
As it started out, HORIZON was a communication tool to let the members know what was going on. Sources of astronomical information were limited. There was no Internet. So we wrote about club news. We cajoled members – I had a dreaded soapbox that would be wheeled out more often that it should have been. But those were my passionate days. And the Club was my passion. We wrote about observing. We wrote about equipment. We wrote about things that interested us, but that we didn't find in a convenient location. We wrote about interesting happenings in astronomy.
We were never under the impression that we were the second coming of SKY & TELESCOPE – we purposely decided not to be that. We were content with being quirky, eclectic and personal - the voice of a quirky, eclectic and personal club. HORIZON provided an outlet for the creativity and inquisitiveness of our members.
But as the years went on, we saw declining participation by members. And especially in the past couple of years, the contributors dwindled. The Presidents were not using it as a communication tool for getting out the word to the members. The heavy contributors of the past fell away. On the way home last evening, Dave Ross and I were musing about this. John had asked at the meeting how many of the folks had bothered to download and print out this last issue. Only a couple hands went up. And this is another factor that may have led to the demise. We were forced away from the print edition by economic realities. A year of HORIZON cost more to print and mail per member than a year of dues. But the electronic version lost much of the tangibility of a hard copy. It gained color, but lost reality. Getting a copy in the mail, you would get the "rush" of getting something anticipated in the mail. You could lay it on the coffee table, or by your bed, or in the pile of reading material in the bathroom. But it was real and could be picked up at will. The electronic version.... not so much. It was home printed and stapled. It was not John's thing of beauty.
We developed other ways of getting the word about club events to each other. We had email. We had a web site. And most recently we had the Yahoo discussion group. All of these removed some of the relevance of HORIZON. And in the end, made it irrelevant.
So, we mark its passing with sadness. It had a great run. Personally, there is a whole lot of me in those pages. So it hurts to see it go. But I think it is the right decision. If it is not serving any practical purpose, it is time to let it go and direct the creative energies in other directions.
Farewell, HORIZON. We thank you.
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