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Date: NA
Price: $25.00
Author: Robert Burnham, Alan Dyer, Robert A. Garfinkle, Martin George, Jeff Kanipe, David H. Levy
Description: Hard cover reference book and chart geared more towards the beginner or intermediate amateur.  It consists of 288 pages containing numerous color photographs and pictures.  Nearly 100 of these pages are star charts and object descriptions.

Review

This book was the first book that I purchased after I became interested in amateur astronomy.  I had a telescope at the time but I was lacking the proper resources for its use.  In other words I didnít know anything about telescopes or the night sky.  The only information I had at the time came from a few college astronomy classes I had taken in the past and bits and pieces of useful information I could find on the web.  Needless to say this book was really all I needed to get a proper start in astronomy.

The book is an excellent reference guide geared mainly towards novice and intermediate observers.  However I still find myself coming back and reading portions of this book all of the time.  It is intuitively laid out and simple to understand.  Perhaps the most useful portion of the book comes in the star charts found in the last section.

The guide is split into a couple of different sections. It is advisable for anyone new to astronomy to read the book from cover to cover.  People with some experience may simply want to skip around to the sections that interest you.  It is full of simple explanations for everything ranging from how and equatorial mount works to how to find the best accessories.  It is also full of hundreds of spectacular color photographs to complement the written sections.

The introduction and first chapter give a brief overview of astronomy and its history.  They explore the beginnings of astronomy as well as modern advancements made within the past ten years.  Reading this as a novice was not only interesting but it turned out to be very useful background information.

The second chapter is where any new astronomer will have most of their questions answered.  It is a guide to the different telescopes and accessories available to amateurs.  There are countless pages full of information to help even the least knowledgeable amateur find the best and most useful pieces of equipment.  It starts by explaining how telescopes work to describing the different types.  There is also a short section on binoculars, accessories, astro-photography, and more.  In other words this section alone will keep novice observers entertained for quite a while.

The third section of the book (chapters 3, 4, and 5) covers the sun, moon, planets, and deep sky objects.  For those looking for a general description on most of the objects in the sky this is for you.  Included in this are some excellent moon charts and photos that I still use exclusively to this day for my lunar observations. 

Lastly the book contains some of the best and easiest star charts I have ever used.  The last chapter contains twenty "star tours".  This portion of the book concentrates on teaching the user how to star hop from object to object around small sections of the night sky.  On top of this there are also short descriptions of each object on the tour and also a key as to what type of instrument works best with them.  The key shows objects that can be seen without any equipment, binoculars, and telescopes.  For the most part this is a fairly accurate system even under my mag. 3.5 skies.  Best of all the tours are simple and well designed, any amateur could countless hours behind the eyepiece experiencing the best objects in the sky easily and efficiently.

Conclusion 

Overall this book is perhaps one of the best I have ever read pertaining to amateur astronomy.  It is not overwhelming but it offers an immense collection of useful information.  For new observers I would recommend this book without hesitation.  If you are more experienced the first few sections may not be of much help but the charts in the back make it a worthwhile investment.  This book easily earns its 10 out of 10 rating and is highly recommended.

Submitted by Curt Irwin - irwincur@excite.com - Grand Rapids, Michigan

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