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Celestial Sampler: 60 Small-Scope Tours for Starlit Nights (Stargazing) Paperback – Nov 2005

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 19 reviews
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
An Excellent Compilation 14 Jun. 2006
By Matt Roper - Published on
Format: Paperback
Celestial Sampler is a conglomeration of Sue French's "Small Scope Sampler" articles that appear in Sky & Telescope magazine each month. It collects 60 installments since its July of '99 introduction. Each article guides the reader through a half dozen or so objects to look at that are nearby one another, so star hopping from one to the other is easy.

The articles are helpful in that they highlight inconspicuous things to look at, such as random NGC objects, and obscure double stars, while visiting old favorites, like the Messier objects. As such, the book is best suited for beginner-to-intermediate level observers who have tackled the major objects out there (M42, M57, etc.), and are looking for something more to look at.

Each article includes a list of around 5-15 objects, a few photos, and a finder chart that plots all of the objects, with stars down to about mag 7-9. The finder charts closely resemble what you'd find in Sky Atlas 2000.

The text of each star hop briefly describes how best to find each object, and a description of the object itself. Frequently each object is described under multiple apertures, though her 4-inch aperture is her "workhorse" scope, and gets the most descriptions. Each object is listed in bold, so finding a description for something is quick and easy.

Overall, this is an excellent guide to finding some more "off the beaten path" stuff that's out there. Even if you already have the S&T issues in which these articles have been published, the book serves as an excellent field companion, since it is well-printed, and glossy, so dew won't be a problem. Recommended.
39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
A DeepSky Companion 8 Mar. 2006
By R. Stekelenburg - Published on
Format: Paperback
I have a subscription on Sky&Telescope magazine and I always read Sue Frenchs column "Deep Sky Wonders". Now she has compiled these columns in a book and ordered them by season and month.

In general I find it a very nice book, with good clear charts, nice photos and some drawings. More drawings would have been welcome, as they show better what you actually see at the eyepiece. Reading the book wants you to get out of your chair and observe the marvels described.

One effect of the compilation of individual columns is that there is some overlap: several objects are treated in two or three chapters. This is no handicap, as objects are written in bold and can thus be found easily in the main text.

There is plenty for everybody, whether you are 'just' using binoculars or have a scope small or big.

Last but not least: its really Sue French who wrote this book and should get due credit for it, Richard Fienberg 'only' wrote the foreword.

Highly recommended!
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Celestial Sampler 14 Feb. 2007
By John C. Fox - Published on
Format: Paperback
It is always a joy to receive my Sky and Telescope and NightSky (now deceased) magazines and open them up to Sue's columns to see what new celestial wonders await. This book is a compilation of her articles written over the years in a style that is entertaining, informative and not so technical that a novice like me can easily follow. Her introduction is a colorfully illustrated lesson on general astronomy with monthly sky charts, viewing tips and her personal approach to our science.

The book takes you month by month beginning with January`s wintry delights. Each of the objects discussed are illustrated by star charts and photographs clearly identifying each target and how to find it. This includes a chart listing the object, type, magnitude, distance, RA and DEC. The text is a delightful mixture of fact and myth. What you can expect to see is vividly described with various telescopes, apertures and magnification powers and her own personal observations. Whether your interests are in stars, planets, or deep space objects, there is something for everyone to enjoy and learn. I can't wait for her next edition of Celestial Sampler to be published!

Jack Fox, Richmond Astronomical Society
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The Joy of a Small Telescope 17 Jan. 2007
By Joseph A. Bergeron - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is compiled from Sue's older "Small Scope Sampler" column, which, as the title implies, emphasizes brighter targets, but also makes a point of describing the surprising things you can do with a small telescope if it's used with care beneath a reasonably dark sky. In this way she encourages those who are not equipped with gigantic instruments to go out and enjoy the many, many wonderful sights available to decent small telescopes. Sue's skills as a visual observer are equal to anyone's. Her writing is fluid and unpretentious. Her object selection covers all the bases.

For the past few years, Sue's column has been renamed "Deep Sky Wonders" in honor of an old tradition at Sky & Telescope magazine. Her next compilation will probably be drawn from these, and will feature more targets suitable only for larger scopes. Yet Sue still loves her 4" scope the most, and it still shows even in these later columns.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Celestial Sampler 15 Mar. 2008
By Paul H. Guttman - Published on
Format: Paperback
Visual equivalent to a sampler box of chocolates; every bite is a delight! This guide is a must for those who observe with a small telescope.
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