For the first time, I read a modern account of the Solar System. (Until then, I had gotten my astronomy out of more or less out-of-date books in the public library.) For the first time, astronomy was made truly dramatic to me in Campbell's somewhat overcharged prose.... Campbell's articles taught me more. They taught me that non-fiction could be as interesting as fiction. Well enough done, I found, it could compete with the fiction in a science fiction magazine and grab the attention. I always turned to Campbell's article first in those issues in which the series appeared.In Arthur C. Clarke's memoir, Astounding Days, he writes that these essays "were both accurate and exciting, full of striking insights . . . . The whole series would have made an excellent textbook: even now, I am surprised to see how little it has dated."
The time was to come, over a dozen years later, when Astounding would print non-fiction articles by me, and, still later, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction would begin a regular series of non-fiction articles by me that would run far longer than any other such series in the history of the field. (As I write this, I am working on my 181st monthly article in that series)
And all the articles I write for science fiction magazines, indeed all the non-fiction I write, I trace back to my pleasure at reading Campbell's articles on astronomy.
After tracking them down I enjoyed them enough to make them available here.
Campbell started this series when he was 26 years old and had recently graduated from Duke (after leaving MIT) with a degree in physics. A few months after finishing it, he took over Astounding's editorial reigns from 38-year-old F. Orlin Tremaine, revitalizing that magazine and SF with the help of Heinlein, Asimov and Sturgeon.