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Meteors and How to Observe Them (Astronomers' Observing Guides) [Paperback]

Robert Lunsford

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Book Description

29 Dec 2008 052182169X 978-0521821698 2009
In this era of high-tech instruments, meteor observing is the one facet of astr- omy that needs nothing more than your naked eye. Meteors can be easily seen without the aid of cameras, binoculars, or telescopes. Just ? nd a comfortable chair and lie back and watch for the surprises that await high above you. It is a great way to involve the family in science where everyone is active at the same time, not wa- ing to take turns at the eyepiece. The kids especially enjoy the hunt for “shooting stars,” oohing and ahing at each streak of light that crosses the sky. While gazing upwards, it is also a great way to get more familiar with the sky by learning the constellations and seeing if you can see the warrior among the stars of Orion or the scorpion among the stars of Scorpius. Until just recently, one could simply go outside and watch for meteors from his or her yard. Unfortunately, humankind’s fear of the dark and the widespread use of lighting as advertisement have lit the nighttime scene in urban areas so that only the brightest stars are visible. Serious meteor observing under such conditions is nearly impossible as the more numerous faint meteors are now lost in the glare of urban skies. Today, a serious meteor observing session entails organizing an outing to a country site where the stars can be seen in all their glory and meteors of all magnitudes can be viewed.

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From the reviews:

"This guide … contains much useful information for a new comer to meteor observing, especially with regards to practical advice relating to meteor watches. One third of the book covers the major showers … with useful charts included to show the radiant locations and their daily motion. … It is all up to date … . In summary, this is a potentially useful book … ." (Tony Markham, Astronomy Now, July, 2009)

"The book is split into two sections. The first concentrates on nine major and 17 minor meteor showers along with variable, daytime and possible new showers. … The second section is a guide that is … well written. It covers everything from how to accurately record your observations for scientific use to tips on making photographic, video and radio observations. If you’re keen on observing meteors or taking your interest further, this book is well worth getting hold of." (Vincent Whiteman, Sky at Night Magazine, August, 2009)

"The book is aimed at the beginner in meteor studies, so it quite reasonably has few surprises in its coverage … . Overall, my desire to recommend this book, as one of few commercially-available, introductory, meteor-astronomy texts, is tempered by the flaws which detract from it fully informing its target readership … . newcomers would find much of it useful, and its shower coverage is sufficient to make it a handy work to dip into for more-knowledgeable amateur meteor enthusiasts." (Alastair McBeath, The Observatory, Vol. 129 (1212), October, 2009)

From the Back Cover

ASTRONOMERS’ OBSERVING GUIDES provide up-to-date information for amateur astronomers who want to know all about what it is they are observing. This is the basis of the first part of the book. The second part details observing techniques for practical astronomers, working with a range of different instruments.

Have you ever been on the beach at night, watching the sky overhead, and seen streaks of light against the background of stars? Though many people still refer to these as shooting stars, they are, of course, not stars. They are meteors—small chunks of rock and ice debris from disintegrating comets that are careening through our Solar System and sometimes enter Earth’s atmosphere. Most are so small that they burn up as they enter the atmosphere. These are called meteors. In a meteor shower, many meteors can be seen streaking across the sky in a short time. A few meteors make it through intact and descend to Earth as meteorites. Watching these beautiful streaks of light in the sky can be an exciting pastime, and it can result in some important science.

Robert Lunsford explains what meteors are, where they come from, and what happens to them as they whiz through space and enter our atmosphere. He tells how to observe meteors and meteor showers, what equipment to use, what you should look for, where you should look, and much more. Armed with the information in this book and with very little effort and equipment, you can begin your regular search of the heavens right now and join the ranks of those who have made this rewarding pastime a lifetime hobby.

Practical Astronomy

ISBN 978-0-387-09460-1

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
This chapter briefly discusses the process in which a meteoroid in space encounters Earth's atmosphere and becomes visible as a meteor. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best publicly available book on the subject 20 Jan 2009
By Troy Riedel - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
METEORS AND HOW TO OBSERVE THEM is a treasure trove of information that provides the most up-to-date and complete volume of information a meteor shower observer/enthusiast could want. You won't find a better book on this subject on Amazon, guaranteed.

For example, the book starts with a very short introduction - from what meteors are to the definitions of Sporadic Meteors (e.g., random, antihellion, hellion, apex, etc.).

The next several sections cover Major Annual Showers (9), Minor Annual Showers (17), Variable Showers (11) and Daytime/Radio Showers (12).

If that wasn't enough, the latest information & research is presented on potentially new showers - a whopping 19 - that need more study and confirmation.

There is also a chapter on monthly meteor activity (sporadic/random meteors do typically vary month-by-month).

If I were to make one small complaint - and it's very, very minor - it would be that Chapter 8 (of 10 chapters) covers "how to observe" meteors. In my humble opinion, this chapter should have been in the beginning of the book - maybe after the definitions & types of meteors and before the detailed descriptions of individual meteor showers. For inexperienced observers, it seems to me they would want to know "how" to observe before learning "what" to observe. But the bottom-line: all of the information you could ever want or need is here, albeit in a slightly different order than I would have organized it.

Last but not least, the author is quite possibly the most respected American expert on meteors. He is the Coordinator of THE ASSOCIATION OF LUNAR AND PLANETARY OBSERVERS (A.L.P.O.) - METEORS SECTION (check the web site for the latest news & information).

If you are interested in observing meteors - and you're a hobbyist or amateur astronomer - this is the one and only book you need to own.

Note: Serious Meteor Observers, like those who submit detailed observations as scientific data to the AMS or IMO (American & International organizations, respectively), have journals & handbooks that would be a "step-up" from this publication. However, like my title indicates - this book is by far the best publicly available book that I have ever seen on the subject. It's one of, if not the best, title in Springer's "ASTRONOMERS' OBSERVING GUIDE" Series.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Meteors and How to Observe Them - Book 8 Oct 2009
By William Puckett - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a very good book on how to observe meteors. The book contains some technical information about the meteor phenomenon and has detailed tables of annual meteor showers. These tables are much more comprehensive than tables that you would find in publications like the "Farmer's Alamanac."

A must buy for meteor lovers!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Guide to "Mother Nature's fascinating Fireworks" 16 Jun 2009
By Busy Bee - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Meteors are Mother Nature's fascinating Fireworks, I enjoy them when driving in the countryside away from city lights, and I even plan my flights during Moonless nights and spend the whole flight observing them from the airplane's little window. As for this book, it's simply enjoyable and well presented for amateur astronomers who want to observe Meteors or just read about them. It provides a "summary" of the various types of Meteors and their activities supported by maps and pictures of what to expect; gathered in one little book. References for more complete sources are included at the end of each chapter for those who want more. It's not a book for a novice as it assumes that you have the basic knowledge of how to locate the constellations and navigate your way around the stars. Visual observations of Meteors are fun, a good pair of binoculars for clearer viewing is recommended, many tips exist in the book for an enjoyable experience. With the multitude of books about stars and deep sky objects out there, this one stands out as one of the few references for amateurs about Meteors. Enjoy!!
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect book for me. 28 Oct 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Earlier this year I began a study of meteor showers. I wanted to find a book that would allow me to dig deeper. Some of my friends wondered why I would need a book on meteors and how much deeper a person could dig. After all, they reasoned, meteor showers come from dust left over by comets. They happen at predictable times. You simply count them, and that's that.

They were wrong. I wouldn't have time to go into all that I learned from this book, but this book elevated my meteor study to one of my favorite astronomical studies. There is enough material in this easy to read to last for a long time. In fact, after reading the book, and spending considerable time logging meteors over the past several months, I still find myself going back to the book and using it as a resource text.

Just last week, while watching the Orionids with some friends, we saw a long, slow, green meteor streak across the sky. We tried to remember, "What does green mean again? That's right, green shows the meteor contains a lot of nickel. Hmmm, was it an Orionid or sporadic meteor? Do the shower meteors contain nickel?" Did you know it is possible to set up a radio system and hear the meteors ping while you are watching the shower, or that it is possible to use a radio to hear the ping of meteors in the daylight? These are the sorts of things one learns from reading this book.
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