ALPO Publication Guidelines


ALPO Homepage






























The ALPO welcomes reports, articles, and letters for publication in its quarterly Journal, The Strolling Astronomer. All authors should observe and follow the guidelines provided here for works intended for publication in it.

Special instructions for ALPO Monographs / Conference Proceedings are provided at the end of these guidelines.

Submissions may be either electronic (as file attachments or e-mails), or as traditional paper copy sent via regular mail. Electronic submissions are much preferred.

All submissions, including "Letters to the Editor", should be accompanied by a notification stating that the material is being submitted for publication plus the following:

  • Contact telephone number
  • Fax number (if any)
  • E-mail address (again, if any)

If a paper copy is submitted, a single copy is usually sufficient, and the author(s) should retain a copy for themselves.

In terms of content, we deal with the objects in the Solar System; the Sun, Moon, major and minor planets, satellites of the these bodies, comets and meteors. Our emphasis is on observations and observing techniques rather than theory or cosmology, although papers which deal with these alternative topics are not automatically rejected. Ordinarily, submissions should not exceed a total of 10-12 printed pages including illustrations; allow about 1,000 words per printed page.

The ALPO publishes in the English language only. All submissions should be in clear, grammatically correct English.

Due to copyright laws, all submissions for ALPO publication MUST be original and neither been published nor currently submitted to any other publication. Previously published submissions or those currently being considered for publication elsewhere will not be published by the ALPO.

Once material has been published by the ALPO, it may not be published elsewhere without the permission of both the author(s) and the ALPO Editor.

Authors who disregard these directives cause ethical and potential legal problems, and therefore risk rejection of all future submissions.

Unsolicited revisions of previous submissions will be accepted only when requested by an Editor, or in unusual cases, such as when new information invalidates statements in the original.

If submitting paper copy, text and illustrations should be on letter-size (8.5 x 11-inch) white paper, unfolded and printed on only one side of the sheet.

Material not conforming to these guidelines may be either rejected outright or returned to the author for correction.

In summary, remember that ACCURACY is most important, and that papers should be clearly written and carefully typed.

Electronic Submissions (Online)

For all submissions provided in online:

  • If the piece is short and no special character formatting is required, it may be included within the body of a standard e-mail. Otherwise, the preferred method is via file attachment.
  • Because of its almost universal use, the text may be in Microsoft Word format. Alternatively, plain text file (ASCII) format for either a Macintosh or PC-compatible is also acceptable.
  • Accompanying illustrations (images) should be formatted in either EPS if a line drawing, and PICT, TIFF, or GIF if grayscale. Color images are used ONLY in the pdf version of the ALPO Journal and are converted to grayscale for the paper Journal.

Electronic Submissions (CD / Diskette)

For all submissions provided in electronic format on either CD or 3.5-inch diskette:

A paper copy of all text and illustrations should be included.

The text must be in the form of a plain text file (ASCII) and formatted for either a Macintosh or PC-compatible.

Accompanying illustrations (images) should be on a 3.5 inch diskette formatted for either Macintosh or PC-compatible. The file format should be either EPS if a line drawing, and PICT, TIFF, or GIF if grayscale. Color images are used ONLY in the pdf version of the ALPO Journal; color images are converted to grayscale for the paper Journal.

Compress (ZIP) submitted files ONLY if there is no other way to squeeze a file onto a diskette.

Label the disk as to the type of computer and the file format(s).



Handwritten or hand-printed submissions are not acceptable. The text should be either type-written or computer-printed in clear black type, 1-1/2 or double-space.

The title and author's (authors') name(s) should be centered at the top of the first page. If the author(s) wishes, an affiliation or address may also be stated.

For articles longer than about 2 printed pages (roughly 2,000 words), place a 75-100 word abstract just preceding the main text (the JALPO is abstracted).

Number all equations in order, beginning with (1). Each equation should be placed on a separate line.

Pay particular attention to the following:

  • Consistency in numerical values between different parts of the text, between tables, and between the text and tables.
  • Accuracy and completeness of literature references.
  • Consistency between English and Metric units for telescope apertures; metric units are preferred for astronomical dimensions.


Footnotes should be literature citations only, in the form, "(Jones, 1973, 18)", where the last figure is the page referred to. Use, for example, "Smith et al." when there are four or more authors. Note that, where italics are used in these guidelines, authors may use underlining instead.


Literature references should be listed at the end of the text, in alphabetical order by author, formatted as in the following examples:

  • (Book) Moriarty, J. (1885) Asteroid Dynamics. Arkham, MA: Miskatonic University Press.
  • (Periodical) Ward, C.D. (1987) "Watching Four Comet Halley Apparitions." New England Journal of Astronomy, Vol. 285, No. 5 (July), pp. 17-31.

If there is more than one reference to the same author in the same year, use, for example, "(1994a)", "(1994b)", in the order of publication. Note that the title should be given for all works, including papers, and that the range of pages should be given for papers, not just the first page.

If the author refers to a "personal communication", a reference "in press", or to a “www” (World Wide Web) page, then the appropriate hardcopy should also be submitted with the paper.


Tables are treated as text rather than illustrations, and may be submitted either as separate pages or embedded in the main text. Number tables consecutively with Arabic numbers, beginning with "Table 1". No table should exceed the size of one full page (6.5 by l 1.0 inches).

Use your word processor's "Table" feature to create a proper table – do NOT use the spacebar to vertically align columns. With Microsoft Word, click on the "Table" pull-down menu, then choose "Insert", then "Table", then pick the number of columns and rows in your table, leave the rest alone and click on "OK". To align the text within the cells, highlight the cell or cells and use the text alignment choices in the toolbar across the top of your screen for Centered Text, Left-Aligned Text, Right-Aligned Text or Justified Text.



  • Illustrations submitted on paper should be clearly drawn, with good contrast. Normally, they will be scanned and placed in the final copy by an Editor. As stated earlier, color images are used ONLY in the pdf version of the ALPO Journal; color images are converted to grayscale for the paper Journal. Paper illustrations are returned only if requested.
  • Photocopies ("Xerox" copies) of grey-scale drawings, photographs, or images are not acceptable. This is because such copies usually are too contrasty, with little or no intermediate grays.
  • On the other hand, such copies of black-and-white originals (e.g., line drawings) are still acceptable. For grey-scale originals, we advise either making photographic copies, or scanning them and either e-mailing them to the Editor or sending the Editor a diskette with the illustration in the form of a graphics file in a standard format (JPEG, GIF, TIFF, or PICT). You can also send the original drawing, 35-mm slide, or film negative, or photographic print to an Editor, along with a self-addressed, stamped return envelope, who will scan your originals and then return them to you.
  • The author should select which illustrations are to be used; rather than, for example, providing an Editor with an envelope full of illustrations and letting him choose. There is no point to submitting illustrations that are not referred to in the text of a paper.
  • Number all illustrations on their backs, with Arabic numbers beginning with "Figure 1". For astronomical views (drawings, photographs, electronic images), celestial north MUST be indicated; if the image is laterally reversed, indicate this as well.
  • Do NOT place text within images; instead, include the explanatory material at the end of your paper. This is because the text within the image grows or shrinks with the size of the image when images are scaled to fit on the page; this makes for extremely unprofessional and often unreadable graphics.
  • Graphs should be clearly drawn and labeled, with scales provided on all four margins.


Provide captions for all figures, using consecutive page numbers, starting with "Figure 1."

  • For astronomical views, supporting information is essential. At the minimum, this should include: Observer name
  • Date and time in UT
  • Telescope type, aperture (in centimeters [cm]), and magnification (if a drawing)
  • Filters used, if any
  • Atmospheric Seeing conditions, using the 0-10 ALPO Scale
  • Atmospheric Transparency conditions, as limiting stellar magnitude in the vicinity of the object
  • Any other data pertinent to the object observed

Object-specific data include, for example:

  • Colongitude for the Moon
  • Central meridians for most planets

For photographs or electronic images, the exposure time and effective focal ratio should also be given.

Camera-Ready Illustrations

Occasionally, authors wish to submit illustrations intended for publication exactly as they appear. Most often, these are groups of small drawings or photographs that are to appear together. Such submissions must:

  • Be in clean, reproducible form with good contrast and linework
  • Not exceed 6.5 by 11.0 inches for the actual illustration(s)
  • Contain NO captions or figure numbers (although these may be provided separately)
  • May contain letters to identify separate figures within the illustration

Bear in mind that Journal, ALPO illustrations are reduced to about 70 percent of their original size for publication.

Special Instructions

Apparition Reports

These reports present some special problems for their authors:

  • A large volume of observations need to be summarized in no more than 10-12 pages of printed text and illustrations if at all possible.
  • Not every observer can be trusted to calculate correct central meridians and other ephemeris quantities; these all need to be checked by the author/Section Coordinator.
  • It is important to give credit to observers by name, so every Section Report should include a list of contributing observers, containing at the least their names and locations (both spelled correctly). If space allows, observers' telescope types and apertures, and the number of observations contributed by type, should also be given. Statistical information about the apparition should be included; with information such as dates of conjunction, opposition or greatest elongation, declination at opposition, angular diameter, length of observing season, and so forth.
  • The author/section coordinator may need to convert to American or ALPO standard usage foreign usages, such as the Antoniadi Seeing Scale.

Proceedings / Monographs

All material for Convention Proceedings is to be camera-ready, both text and illustrations. All an editor will do before photocopying is to add continuous page numbers. Thus, what the author submits will be reproduced exactly in appearance. Page numbers should be on the back of each page. Also, illustrations must be submitted mounted on pages with captions in place.

ALPO Monographs comprise special publications that are too lengthy for Journal publication. Unless intended for Convention Proceedings (see below), Monograph submissions follow the same guidelines as for the Journal, except for the latter's length restriction.

* * * * *

These guidelines are intended to help produce a higher-quality Journal. Obviously, no paper will be perfect, but the Editors are happy to work with authors to improve submissions when the author makes a good-faith effort to comply. However, repeated disregard of these guidelines will result in a paper being rejected.

With all communications with ALPO staff, please furnish a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Back to ALPO Pubs Page


(This page last updated April 7, 2007)

web counter