Monday, October 15, 2007


Long live Astromart

I’m not a big used astro-gear buyer, muchachos. I used to not be, anyhow. The prospect of dialing-up somebody I didn’t know in some distant part of the country (mebbe even north of the Mason-Dixon Line!), talking to ‘em long distance, and then sending ‘em my hard-earned bucks based on a nearly illegible ad in The Starry Messenger just did not appeal. That’s the way it used to be, young folks. 

What was Starry Messenger? I'm not talking about Galileo's candle against the darkness (even Unk ain't old enough to remember when that came out). The Starry Messenger I'm talking about is what we had before there was an Astromart.

The way it worked back in the day was this: you waited for the mailman to deliver this slim little black and white pulp-paper magazine full of blurry little ads for astro-gear each month. If you were lucky, the smudgy ad that interested you was accompanied by a dark black and white photo. If you were really lucky, the mailman brought your issue before he brought your friends their copies—and before those danged Yanks got their issues. If not, you were sunk. All the bargains were gone by the time you got around to ringing up long distance charges (no “10 cents a minute” back then).

Then along came the Internet and Astromart with it. Astromart wasn’t the first classified venue for astronomy ads on the ‘net. I believe, if what few brain cells I have left post weekend Rebel Yell fiesta are still working, that the folks at Astronomy Mall were there first. Why is it, then, that your buddies are all the time calling you up and chirping about the cool stuff they saw/bought/sold on Astromart and not on Astronomy Mall (or Cloudy Nights, or wherever)?

The answer is a simple one: Astromart’s owner, Herb York. Lots of people like Herb and his Astromart. Some, however, think he is too tough. In addition to being an imposing figure in person (big enough to squish your olUnk like a bug), he runs a tight ship on the Internet. Astromart has a set of rules. Violate those rules and your Astromart membership is gone like the wind. 

Now, there is no denying that some of these actions seem, well, arbitrary at best. And that the Astromart staff could be a lot more responsive when someone has a problem with the service (in lieu of just deleting the person's membership, which has happened in more than a few cases)...but I guess you gotta take the bad with the good. Astromart is safe.

Why does Herb have to be so darned strict? Why does he do stuff like refuse memberships to folks with Hotmail and Yahoo addresses, insisting that a prospective buyer/seller present a “real” Internet addy? Easy. Go look around Ebay. That’s what Astromart would look like if there were no mean-old-rules. There is no way all the scammers and rip-off artists can be kept off any classified ads site, but Astromart is, I think, about as good as it ever will get in that regard.

Some folks also complain about the one-time $12.00 registration fee being “too much.” Don’t make me laugh. You’ll soon find you’re getting more fun—and use—out of that “expensive” Astromart registration than you do out of some astro-things that cost far more—a subscription to Astronomy Magazine, for instance. In addition to the exciting prospect of seeing new ads every day, Astromart also features forums, reviews, news, an auction site, and other fun and interesting things.

I doubt Herb and crew are getting rich off your 12 bucks, either, if that’s what you’re worried about. In fact, I’d guess Astromart ain’t exactly a gold mine, period. Sure, A-mart probably attracts some customers to the Yorks' other business, Anacortes Telescope and Wild Bird, but I doubt that makes up for the money Herb has to shell out to keep Astromart on the air. Frankly, I don’t know why Herb and company keep on keeping on given the expense and the headaches, but I’m sure glad they do. One thing your 12 dollars probably does do is keep some of the riff-raff out. I would guess that it provides at least some deterrent, as some of the bottom of the barrel thieves no-doubt balk at paying anything to run their scams.

I said I don’t do much used trading, but, as I implied, that might change. I recently sold my second item on Astromart since its inception and I was impressed. It was just so easy to sell my small doodad—an OIII filter—and so much fun to see the responses roll in, that I’ll probably find myself hankering to do some Astromart horse trading again soon. It made doing something I’d been putting off because of the hassle, selling a piece of unneeded gear, an absolute joy instead of a pain. I can sure understand how buying and selling the Astromart way could become, well, addictive.

2020 Update

I don't hear as much about Astromart as I used to. Maybe because my focus is no longer on seeing how much astro stuff I can accumulate. But it is still there with its classified, its reviews, and even its forums. Now, there's no hiding the fact that Cloudy Nights long ago surpassed Astromart as the astronomy discussion place. But one other thing remains true that has been true for a long time--you're safer buying from the Astromart classifieds than you are from the Cloudy Nights classifieds.

Welcome to the real world! Will be be seeing an update to your SCT book now?
Real world?! Wut's that? ;-)

Actually, the update is well underway (if you'll check the blog archives, there's an entry on it).

Actually, it's more on the order of a whole new book (money guys say new "editions" don't sell).

That's probably a good thing, though. It allowed me to go back and fix ALL the warts of good ol' Choosin' and Using. That is, the new one is probably at least 80% new material, and most of the stuff hangin' on from the original has been (thank god) rewritten.

Oh I agree, Astromart is a great resource for amateur astronomers, however let me tell you this. After having been a long time member of the site, and bringing in much business for Anacortez, I was kicked off of astromart for no apparent reason. I have tried to contact them and have only gotten silence in return as if I weren't even a person.

I was never given any warning of any type and no one has had the decency to even tell me what it was I did and so I don't even have the chance to defend my reputation should it have been tarnished somehow.

I have read the TOS and did not violate anything listed in it, so I suppose I was kicked for "no apparent reason at all" as stated he retains the right to do somewhere in there.
I too have been banned from A-mart. Herb is utterly clueless in 1) how to run a business 2) how to properly administer and run a web site and 3) people skills. Astromart is dying and Herb is facilitating and hastening that process. I myself will move on to Cloudy Nights, etc. What a waste -Herb, I give you 0 stars.
I’ve been a supporter of Astromart for years, even before the current owner, Herb, bought the site. Yes, Herb isn’t the original owner of Astromart. Alot of people don’t know that.

Anyway, as I said, I supported the site through donations for years. Then, when Herb decided to implement the $12 registration fee, I felt that it was no big deal and I paid the fee to continue to support the site. Shortly afterwards I moved and sent Astromart an email asking to update my address in my profile. The next thing I know my entire account, profile, ads, and feedback were deleted. I was locked out. Several emails to Astromart inquiring for an explanation went unanswered. I finally got a reply from Herb via a newsgroup that my account was terminated because I fraudulently posted wrong information in my profile, which was my address. I tried to explain that I had moved and I now have a new address, but I apparently didn’t get Herb’s approval to move before doing so. I didn’t know I needed his approval, but according to him, I do.

Basically, Herb stole $$$ from me. I no longer use, or recommend Astromart. I hope Herb has a good life in his own little world.
Astromart has been a really enjoyable web site for me. A few years ago, I sent in the ONE TIME registration fee to get unlimited access to all of Astromart. Two or three weeks ago, I was suddenly locked out because a new policy of fees and registration was implemented. Now the fees are charged YEARLY! What I don't understand is why the past members that agreed to the ONE TIME FEE OF $12.00 were kicked off. This agreement, condition, registration fee was a ONE TIME FEE! Now, the owner has decided that this $12.00 fee for access was not enough. Now, for unlimited one time fee, the cost is $500.00 ! Check it out! I'm not kidding. From a one time fee of $12.00 to a one time lifetime fee of $500.00 For those that don't like that, you can pay $15.00 per year. What happened to those of us that took the deal for $12.00? The owner told me their was "NO DEAL" I guess I was just imagining things. Has anyone else been removed and told the "ONE TIME FEE OF $12.00 WAS NO DEAL"?? ANY LAWYERS ON THIS SITE?
The $500 lifetime account is for the lifetime of the account, not the lifetime of the person who paid for it. Read the TOS carefully! Accounts may be deleted at anytime.
A few more years ago, I registered for FREE, was to be ONE TIME to get unlimited access to all of Astromart.

I would have created a lot of good will if the people who signed up for $12 or free under the terms"ONE TIME" be given grandfather status.

Herb York deleted my account without warning despite the fact that I didn't violate any rules, and he would not respond to my e-mails asking for an explanation or take my phone calls. I was well liked by Astromart members as far as I could tell and was not a trouble maker. I had never recieved any warnings or any correspondences from Herb or other moderators. In fact I would say I was more polite and more rule compliant than most there. My only guess is that he just didn't like me or something I said but to this day exactly what remains a mystery to all but him.

Anyway he is welcome to run his website the way he wants but my opinion is that he does not moderate in a fair or just way.

Herb needs to do some sole
Searching , but he wont do
Thats because he knows That what
He would find would be
Be a dick and a thief.
re: Astromart, I'm a newbie just getting back into the field after many years. I understand there are some staunch supporters of Astromart so I could not comment on the overall value of the site. What I can say, is that I found an interesting item there via google search, and discovered I could not even see the price of it without creating an Astromart account, and that required paying $15! Uh, no thanks. I just sold/traded my C14 OTA on craigslist (for a C8 full setup), and am actively using classifieds to buy a part for my new-to-me C8. I use eBay and Amazon for these and other things too. I would NEVER pay money without knowing what value I'm getting up front, and I'm inclined to avoid sites like Astromart that have extremely hostile user policies like "can't even look without paying". I'm guessing there are hundreds of others like me. Those people will go to, craigslist, eBay, Amazon, and other friendlier and more enlightened sites. And if what I've heard is true, that those that list elsewhere in addition to Astromart get a slap on the wrist, I would highly discourage folks from listing on Astromart. Use, and/or craigslist, eBay, even Amazon. You'll get a MUCH wider audience.
Herb York is a gun dealer. I wouldn’t give him a cent.
I'm not sure what being a gun dealer has to do with giving him money, but I'd be more inclined to do so, knowing this. It seems he believes in the Constitution. But he doesn't seem to believe in maybe not.
Herb probably thought we owe him for over living. I was member close to 10 years.Someone hacked my account a couple of month ago and I informed them. So what they did is deleted my account. I am PAID CUSTOMER, they need to restore when my account was hacked as they didn't do enough protection. Instead, Herb deleted my account and didn't refund renewal fee which just paid 2 weeks earlier. Subsequent application were rejected without given any reasons. No reply for email queries. His arrogant is Worse than Trump!
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