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A few beginner's Books


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#1 MistrBadgr

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 11:24 AM

A question has come up about good books for beginners. There are many. Just about any beginner's book on astronomy will lead you in the right direction. Writing styles, type of print, quality of paper, black and white, color, or no images make up the big differences.

A few that I have read and enjoyed include, Astronomy for Dummies, Night Watch, Skywatch, Left Turn at Orion, to name a few. These all run in the $20 to $30 range. Night Watch and Left Turn at Orion are especially good.

Another book I am very impressed with is called The Monthly Sky Guide. It is written by Ian Ridpath and Wil Tirion and is published by the Cambridge Press in its eighth Edition. Ian is also the editor of Norton's Sky Atlas, which is in its 20th edition and has been in print with updating in each edition for about a century. Will Tiron has other books in print and is noted for his wonderful charts and drawings.

I purchased a copy of The Monthly Sky Guide about a year ago to see what it was like, but became side tracked with other things to the extent that I forgot about it. I took it off the shelf an hour or so and have looked in over. I definitely recommend this one, even if you have others. It is printed on large paper, about the size of a regular letter. It has a lot on each page as well as large, useful charts and pictures. I checked on its price on Amazon.com and found it for sale at $7.20! They have one left in stock. I expect their next batch will be priced a little higher, but who knows.

This book is relatively thin, with 72 pages, I think, but they have a lot in them. It starts out with basic questions, such as: "What is a star?" and "What is a planet?" then progresses onward to how to find your way around the night sky.

There is a good section on the moon. In one place, there is a very good full page black and white picture of the west half of the Moon on the left side and one of Wil's wonderful drawings of the same image on the right with craters, mountains, etc labeled on the right. There is the same thing of the east half of the Moon when you turn the page. The two halves overlap a lot, I expect, to keep something on the border from getting lost.

This is followed by a section for each month of the year. A part of each of these tells you where the major observing planets are located each month and at what magnitude.

A couple of the constellations visible that month are described, including the history of the constellation.

At a price around $10, this book is definitely worth the money.

The book, Norton's Star Atlas, is definitely one I like to have around. I just about wore my first copy out, finally giving it to someone who needed a good book or two and could not afford to buy one. Later, I bought a copy of the 20th addition, which I enjoyed very much. It had been updated with the most recent data as well as keeping the good things from the past. The printing is extremely good quality, with sky charts that extend all the way from the North Pole to the South, covering a full two page spread. Each one is an "orange slice" of the sky. These charts are printed in shades of a greenish ink that should show up very well at night with a red flashlight.

There is a large amount of information in this book for the beginning and intermediate observer, including extensive observing lists.

Norton's Sky Atlas is priced somewhere arount $25 on Amazon, I think.

Both of these books, as well as the other beginning books mentioned, are must have items for my library....if I can keep from giving them away or loaning them out and forgetting who I loaned them to!

Bill Steen
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#2 MistrBadgr

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 08:38 PM

I should have done a better job of proofing what I wrote. I can tell I just ended a two week business road trip.

It is Norton's Star Atlas, not Norton's Sky Atlas.

Bill

#3 Zubi Fett

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 01:18 PM

Thank you for all the recommendations Bill, much appreciate it.

I will look for them and see how it goes, and its always nice to learn about it looking to a book instead of my laptop screen.

Regards, and again, thank you very much.

Ion

#4 Zubi Fett

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 10:43 AM

Hello again,

You should stick this threat on the forum since its really helpful.

Ion

#5 Philip Pugh

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 07:24 AM

You didn't reconmmend any of mine, Bill. Shame on you! LOL

#6 MistrBadgr

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 02:36 PM

Yours come in the next batch, after they learn the basics. That was my list to get them started. The two books of yours would definitely be in the next batch. I go back to them ever once in a while to see what you have to say about this and that.

By the way, I am using your Observing the Messier Objects with a Small Telescope for some of the things I need to find for the Astronomy League's Urban Project. I am using my Meade 2102 refractor optical tube on my home made Alt Az mount for as much of it as I can. I am then catching the rest with my LS8 after trying the 102mm.

I did not expect to find M 77 with the four inch refractor, but using a 20mm eyepiece to change the light level to one better for sensing subtle light level differences, I found it just barely. I could see the oval grey spot the same shape as in your picture. I put my red dot finder on the closest star I could see with my eyes and turned the scope to the west maybe a field and a half or so. I saw the gray spot just barely with movement. I repeated the whole process of locating and verifying the star, etc. to make sure it was repeatable and that I was truly seeing the correct object.

I must admit that I have overhauled the refractor and did things to it to cut down on reflections and glare, which has helped a lot. The eyepiece I used is a five element 70 degree AFOV that appears to be from the same factory that made the smaller QX eyepieces that Meade has discontinued. It seems to be pretty good as a finder in light polluted situations, but it has a 1.75 true field of view, compared to the 2 degrees with a 32mm plossl in this scope.

As a reference, I can only see Polaris in Ursa Minor from my back yard.

Best Regards,

Bill Steen

#7 Philip Pugh

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 05:23 PM

Yours come in the next batch, after they learn the basics. That was my list to get them started. The two books of yours would definitely be in the next batch. I go back to them ever once in a while to see what you have to say about this and that.

By the way, I am using your Observing the Messier Objects with a Small Telescope for some of the things I need to find for the Astronomy League's Urban Project. I am using my Meade 2102 refractor optical tube on my home made Alt Az mount for as much of it as I can. I am then catching the rest with my LS8 after trying the 102mm.

I did not expect to find M 77 with the four inch refractor, but using a 20mm eyepiece to change the light level to one better for sensing subtle light level differences, I found it just barely. I could see the oval grey spot the same shape as in your picture. I put my red dot finder on the closest star I could see with my eyes and turned the scope to the west maybe a field and a half or so. I saw the gray spot just barely with movement. I repeated the whole process of locating and verifying the star, etc. to make sure it was repeatable and that I was truly seeing the correct object.

I must admit that I have overhauled the refractor and did things to it to cut down on reflections and glare, which has helped a lot. The eyepiece I used is a five element 70 degree AFOV that appears to be from the same factory that made the smaller QX eyepieces that Meade has discontinued. It seems to be pretty good as a finder in light polluted situations, but it has a 1.75 true field of view, compared to the 2 degrees with a 32mm plossl in this scope.

As a reference, I can only see Polaris in Ursa Minor from my back yard.

Best Regards,

Bill Steen


Thanks, Bill. Unfortunately, your recommendation has fallen on deaf ears as I've fallen to 180 000 ish in the Amazon author rank.

I keep pestering Springer to bring out a beginner book, even if they decide to go with another writer. I'm not suggesting that beginner books are useless, far from it I just feel that many (even the good ones) cover too many topics and discuss anything from how to choose a telescope to the big bang.

I still think there's room for a book tat concentrates on observing basics, like how to use an equatorial mount.

I'm glad you found M77 but, to be honest, it's more an object to cross off the list, whereas I'd seen M35 through binoculars many times but found it pure eye candy through my 5" Mak. I have to admit I've found better ways of doign the finer charts since the book came out.

No plans for another astronomy book just yet. I'm trying out a lot of new ideas and had my first result with webcamming at F/2.5 using an 80mm F/5 refractor and 0.5x focal reducer.

I'm working on a fiction project at the moment.

#8 Zubi Fett

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 01:34 PM

Thanks, Bill. Unfortunately, your recommendation has fallen on deaf ears as I've fallen to 180 000 ish in the Amazon author rank.


Why don't you make your self some propaganda?

You can use YouTube as well as the social networks, a good montage(be careful with the music copyrights) on YouTube could help.

If you decide to do so, let me know if you need help ;)

As for the books, I've already chosen which one to pick up from Bills recommendations, ones I learn the basics I will go for yours. So far I have only use my telescope to observe the moon(which I have done when ever I could, a few minutes back was the last time) because my view area is very limited, the mountains surrounding my town are very close, having a small portion of the sky to observe which make it really hard to locate what you're looking at(specially for a "noob" like me). That will change on the NL although I will miss my land, my town its not astronomies best friend.

#9 MistrBadgr

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 09:33 PM

Ion,

If you can see Orion, look for his sword and put your scope on the middle "star." It is the Great Orion Nebula. With the stars in it, you should be able to see quite a lot with your 60mm refractor.

The upper "star" in the sword is a star cluster actually. The lower star is not just one star, but I do not know if you could actually call it a cluster.

Best Regards,

Bill Steen
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#10 Zubi Fett

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 01:13 AM

Ion,

If you can see Orion, look for his sword and put your scope on the middle "star." It is the Great Orion Nebula. With the stars in it, you should be able to see quite a lot with your 60mm refractor.

The upper "star" in the sword is a star cluster actually. The lower star is not just one star, but I do not know if you could actually call it a cluster.

Best Regards,

Bill Steen


Thank you! I didn't know that, I will search the sky every night and see if I can find it.

I'll let you know how it goes ;)

Ion

#11 Philip Pugh

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 05:37 AM

Why don't you make your self some propaganda?

You can use YouTube as well as the social networks, a good montage(be careful with the music copyrights) on YouTube could help.

If you decide to do so, let me know if you need help ;)

As for the books, I've already chosen which one to pick up from Bills recommendations, ones I learn the basics I will go for yours. So far I have only use my telescope to observe the moon(which I have done when ever I could, a few minutes back was the last time) because my view area is very limited, the mountains surrounding my town are very close, having a small portion of the sky to observe which make it really hard to locate what you're looking at(specially for a "noob" like me). That will change on the NL although I will miss my land, my town its not astronomies best friend.


Yes, I do videos of my photos on YouTube and now have a blog. You can access them all from here: http://philippugh.co...ls_Gateway.html

#12 Zubi Fett

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 03:53 AM

Thats not what I meant Philip. I mean videos to promote your books.




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