Wolfgang Steinicke was the leading author of the german "Praxishandbuch Deep Sky"(Kosmos 2004), which I like very much. So I started reading his new book on Galaxies with high expectations...and I was not disappointed :
I believe this is the most up-to-date, clearly structured reference book on galaxy observing - satisfying a very broad range of interests.
In three major sections, the authors not only address the needs of the most ambitious observers, but frequently add encouraging hints for beginners as well.
I recommend it A) as a reading book to gain a broader knowledge
and B) as an excellent planning guide when you want to observe MUCH MORE than the most commonly known galaxies.
SECTION I (70 pages) provides a basic understanding of the different types of galaxies and clusters, plus all those data that are important for visually observing them.
Chapter 1 explains different galaxy classification schemes, special cases and pecularities - then chapter 2 introduces pairs, groups and clusters of galaxies and shows their place within the hierarchy of the universe.
Chapter 3 presents a well structured overview for many different types of galaxy catalogs, containing galaxy data and nomenclatures. Advantages/disadvantages of these catalogs are discussed and their data quality is critically judged.
I strongly recommend to study this chapter 3 on catalogs first, because the same presentation structure is followed in the later SECTION III on observing programs.
SECTION II (33 pages) covers the Technical Aspects on observing galaxies.
Key technical instrumentation aspects are only summarized briefly (chap.4), but the Theory of Visual Observation (chap.5), together with practical recommendations on observing, star hopping and observing logs (chap.6) demonstrate the authors very broad experience in finding, identifying faint galaxies and documenting them.
SECTION III (110 pages) on "What to Observe? - The Objects" contains the largest, most valuable part of the book.
An instructive combination of "photo/textual" descriptions presents a large number of objects in the most "objective" way :
Not counting individual galaxies inside groups or clusters (though mentioned in the tables), a total of 500 objects are listed in data tables - following that same structure introduced in SECTION I. Each data table is immediately followed by a separate table with textual descriptions. Around 600 such descriptions are given, based on the visual appearance of each object with different instruments: 1. binocular (if possible),
2. medium aperture telescope(6-10"), 3. large telescope(13-20", sometimes larger).
All these observation descriptions in chapters 7 to 10 stem from renowned observers; e.g. Steve Gottlieb, Steve Coe, beside the authors.
Chapter 7 suggests a variety of Observing Programs, based on
a) M-, NGC/IC- or UGC- CATALOGS
b) Sky Areas and constellations
Chapter 8 suggests selection criteria which are dependent on the characteristics of the individual galaxy; i.e. by sorting them by their distance or by their appearance.
Chapter 9 concentrates on Groups and Clusters; i.e. by listing a) pairs and trios, b) small groups and chains, then c) clusters.
Chapter 10 finally suggests interesting targets "off the beaten path" or in the category of "ultimate challenge".
My reason for mentioning all these details is to demonstrate that this book is quite well organized - especially for all those readers with a minimal amount of patience and learning will.
There is only one unfortunate omission : Springer printed the 1.edition of this unique reference book without a page index !!!
However, after I emailed the author, he swiftly produced an INDEX OF ALL OBJECTS (xls), which can easily be downloaded
from the (Homepage Wolfgang Steinicke).