We're in the process of finishing preparations for the release of Bulletin 74 for 2011 at headquarters, and I wanted to announce a few of the features in advance. I'd also like to use this forum topic as a place where people can come and discuss the new bulletin and its format once it's published. We like our new design, but we've built some flexibility into the system, and we'll be able to make some modifications to the way the predictions are presented. We're hoping that you'll like what we've done, but we'd also like to hear if there are things we can do to improve the Bulletin for you. I invite you to post your thoughts and comments here once the Bulletin goes live and you've had a chance to try it out.
The biggest change to the Bulletin is that we are no longer printing it in a fixed-format, ASCII table as we have done in previous years. Instead, the bulletin will be dynamically generated output in your choice of an HTML table that you can view and print from a web browser or as a comma-separated (.CSV) file that you can download and import into a spreadsheet program. You will have some options as to how to customize your output too; you'll be able to output individual stars by request, stars within a given constellation, and stars selected by RA and Declination ranges. You'll have some flexibility as to how you display the predicted brightness range of the stars as well. The current edition of the Bulletin uses ASCII "+" and "-" signs to indicate when a given star will be brighter than 11.0 or fainter than 13.5. In the new edition of the Bulletin, if you're using the HTML output, you'll be able to display these predictions using color, and you'll have the flexibility to control what colors are used depending upon your own preferences and needs. Finally, we've also made it possible for you to display predictions for a single month only, instead of an entire year. All of these options will be available via a form that will be made available on the website soon. For those of you who would like to print it once and use that as your reference, we'll also make the entire Bulletin available in a PDF version of the HTML-based output as well as a .CSV file that you can also download.
We've put a lot of thought and work into the new Bulletin, and we hope that you'll enjoy it and find it useful. Most importantly, we hope that it will encourage you to go out and observe! Stay tuned to the front page of the website and to our Bulletin page for the release of Bulletin 74!