The aim of the State of the Universe annuals is to provide an annual astronomy review suitable for the popular science level reader to be published every September in a format that will be suitable for, and appeal to, the Christmas market. The book will cover all major astronomical news on topics beyond the Solar System and place them in the context of the longer term goals of astronomers and astrophysicists around the world. The aim is to capture the excitement and vibrancy of modern astronomical research. This section also includes web links for all major news stories, providing a bridge between the public news stories and the actual research web sites.
Chapter 1 – ‘A Year in News and Pictures’, written by Martin Ratcliffe, appears every year and makes up the first half of the annual. It will present brief summaries of the major announcements, discoveries and news items from that year, with the major ones being explained in detail through later chapters written by invited contributors who are at the forefront of research in these fields. The January meeting of the American Astronomical Society each year will be the major source of astronomical news for the following year’s volume, giving access to potential authors and contacts with public information officers of major observatories, space centers, etc.
The invited contributions which make up the second half of the annual each year will cover a variety of topics and are written to appeal to a wide readership. These are written by leading astronomers or science writers. One feature introduced in the first volume, the overall review of the State of the Universe by Dr Jim Kaler will be retained for State of the Universe 2008. The set of appendices at the end of the book will include a list of launches of major astronomical observatories/satellites during the past year; a list of planned future astronomical satellites; basic data on all astronomical observatories currently in operation with web links for the reader who wishes to find out more.