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Astronomy, Earth and Planetary Sciences, and Physics for the Nonscientist: Scientific American

Resources for nonscience majors taking a course in physics, astronomy, and/or geology.

Electronic Access

If you want electronic access to Scientific American, we have several different options. 

If you have reached this page on your own, you have probably tried Googling a Scientific American article, and you were paywalled (it asked you to pay to view an article).


Until late 2018, the Scientific American URL for institutional subscriptions was completely different from the one for personal subscriptions. This caused a lot of confusion, as many on social media would link to the personal one. Google ranks URLs by popularity, so it was often difficult to locate the institutional site. In December 2018, the publisher found a solution, which was to move the content onto the same domain as the personal subscription content.

How to Access

Scientific American with the illustrations, pictures, and figures is available through the Scientific American web site at a special URL:

  • Access Scientific American at:
  • You can read in HTML or in PDF.
  • We only have access to the following collections:
    • 2006 – Present
    • 1993 – 2005
    • 1948 – 1992
  • We do not have access to the majority of special issues digitally. On the archive collections pages mentioned above, the issues we cannot access are the ones without download buttons.

We also have access to Scientific American issues from the early days (before 1909).

Finally, there are a few text-only articles available through our aggregators (library subscriptions that give us access to a bundle of publications, but that haven't necessarily cleared image rights). Please note that "Single Journals" is how the name for Springer-Nature's Scientific American is appearing and that we do have access to Scientific American Mind through the archives.

If you are experiencing problems accessing Scientific American, please first check that you are on YaleSecure or the VPN. Then, clear your browser cookies for Scientific American and refresh the page. You can also use a different browser. Cookies can be persistent despite being on the Yale Network, so it's always best to make sure that you close Scientific American web site tabs after using it if you have plans to be in a non-Yale-network location.

Access Limitations

The following limitations apply to, not to the other access portals.

  • Special issues are not included in our subscription, but they are on the library access page. Look for the key symbol; it's used to indicate "locked" content.
  • The interface does not support exporting to Pocket or Instapaper, but you can download articles to PDF.

The 20th Century

What if you need something from Scientific American in print?

You have several options. The location of Scientific American's print Orbis record is extremely important:

Scientific American is held in multiple locations, with holdings ranges (the volumes and issues that we have) varying from location to location. Most locations will provide two options: Request recall or delivery and Request scan of article/chapter. Clicking on either of these will get you what you need — the former in print, the latter in e. Before making a request, ensure that the location you have selected carries the specific volume and issue that you want.

Request recall or delivery allows you to recall a book that has already been checked out or deliver a copy to you. For example, if the Bass Library and SML are the closest libraries to you, but the copy you need is at Marx Library or at LSF, you can request that the volume be sent to the Bass Library or SML for easy pickup.

Request scan of article/chapter requires information about the article you need. Once you click on the link, input as much information about the article as possible, such as the journal volume and issue numbers, authors, title, and doi (digital object identifier; it will look similar to this: 10.1038/scientificamerican0514-14). 

More information about processing and turnaround times is available on our Get It @Yale site:

Science Research Support Librarian

Kayleigh Bohemier's picture
Kayleigh Bohemier
During COVID-19 (and until at least March 31, 2020), library services have moved to online-only.

Please email me or use the Schedule Appointment button. Appointments will happen using Zoom or other videoconferencing software. Zoom has a phone option for those who need to call in.


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