Just as we published a short booklet on the use of the USNO's Air Almanac, it became apparent that the 2020 edition was not available now in the second week of December, long past its expected date, which is typically Oct or so of the preceding year. Coincidentally at about this time, Oct, 2019, the USNO announced they were taking down their website for six months! This was a radical announcement, not at all in line with normal ways to update a popular web site. We can only conclude that they discovered issues that needed immediate attention, which in turn will take some time to correct.
In any event, the question came up of whether the USNO website downtime issue has anything to do with the delay in the publication of the 2020 edition? Readers had posted to this blog that they had word from USNO that the issue would be out by mid November, but now well into December it was not there—where "there" is the Government Bookstore, which has served as both a place to buy the book on a CD or to download it as a free PDF file. We now have some answers to this situation.
First, the Almanac was indeed likely completed by mid November, but we learned that the Gov Bookstore did not order very many of these and they sold out immediately. They are also for sale at Amazon, which had them for a short time available at $28, same price as the Bookstore, with a note that they were backordered. Today we look and they are for sale at Amazon (this is a CD containing the free PDF) for $28.68 with $5.87 shipping. These are being sold on Amazon by the US Gov Bookstore!
We did learn today that the USNO has sent the Bookstore more copies of the CD, which, based on the Amazon availability, looks like they have, but they are not showing up yet on the Bookstore site itself.
Furthermore, we also learn that the Bookstore may be reevaluating their long standing policy of offering a CD copy of the book for $28 alongside an identical icon offering a free download of the same PDF. It could be someone in the marketing department looked at this and scratched their head. In any event, we will have to wait and see what happens, but can rest assured that the book exists and will soon be available to all.
Note added Dec 15, 2019: We can confirm that the 2020 edition has been produced but is not yet on the Gov Bookstore site. We expect it to be there shortly where it will sell as a CD for $28. It is not clear yet, if the free PDF download will be there. We will update this note when we know. In passing, the CD version (which we have in hand) is not just a copy of the 48-MB single PDF we could download for earlier years, but rather it is a combination of 53 separate PDF files along with 7 HTML web pages that serve as an index to the parts.
The absence of the USNO website for another 5 months or so could eventually be an issue. Apparently the USNO did offer the PDF download themselves, though I had not seen that, thinking the only source was the Gov Bookstore, but if the Bookstore decides to stop hosting the free PDF and the USNO site stays down, then we are in store for alternative sources. We have a CD copy on the way to us and will make the PDF available when it arrives, if is not available elsewhere by then.
Our booklet on the Use of the Air Almanac is now available... hopefully not just in time for the demise of the Air Almanac!
Update Dec 15, 2019.
The 2020 Air Almanac is now available online compliments of the NavList Discussion Forum.