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Observing the Moon: The Modern Astronomer's Guide [Hardcover]

Gerald North
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

27 July 2000
Written by an experienced and well-known lunar observer, this is a 'hands-on' primer for the aspiring observer of the Moon. Whether you are a novice or are already experienced in practical astronomy you will find plenty in this book to help you 'raise your game' to the next level and beyond. The author provides extensive practical advice and sophisticated background knowledge of the Moon and of lunar observation. The selection/construction of equipment and optimizing of existing equipment for such projects as drawing, photographing and CCD imaging of the Moon are covered, together with analysis and computer processing images, and much, much, more. Learn what scientists have discovered about our Moon and what mysteries remain still to be solved. Find out how you can take part in the efforts to solve these mysteries, as well as enjoying the Moon's spectacular magnificance for yourself!

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (27 July 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521622743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521622745
  • Product Dimensions: 24.9 x 19.3 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 811,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'Observing the Moon is a beautifully produced, well illustrated, and thorough guide to the techniques of lunar observations, as well as being a detailed A to Z (well Agarum and Albategnius to Wargentin and Wichmann actually) of the more interesting features of the lunar landscape. Huge enjoyment can be obtained from studying our nearest celestial neighbour, and this book will help to improve your technique.' David W. Hughes, The Observatory

'North is full of useful information for backyard astronomers who would like to move to the next level in their observations of the earth's satellite … Key advantages of North's volume include its practical focus - e.g. lots of advice on the strengths and weaknesses of various types of equipment - and its mix of vivid photographs and clarifying maps and charts.' Booklist

'Guided by this book amateurs can undertake observations of real scientific usefulness and thus can make their own contributions to the understanding of our Moon.' Orion (Société Astronomique de Suisse)

'North is an experienced lunar astronomer, and it shows … Observing the Moon will certainly help you on your way to make the most of your time behind the telescope.' Sarah Dunkin, Physics World

'Observing the Moon is a pretty comprehensive guide to beginning lunar observation and recommended reading.' Astronomy and Space

'He advises the novice observer based on his own extensive experience, and he includes a brief review of lunar science from Apollo to Lunar Prospector. North richly illustrates his 48 crater descriptions with drawings, amateur and professional photographs, and spacecraft images … I do recommend North's observing guide as visually pleasing, meaty, easy to read.' Sky & Telescope

'The latest in a long and venerable collection of astronomy titles from Cambridge University.' Bloomsbury Review

Book Description

Written by an experienced and well-known lunar observer, this is a 'hands-on' primer for the aspiring observer of the Moon. For both novices and those already experienced in practical astronomy, this book provides plenty of advice to help them 'raise their game' to the next level and beyond.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Feverishly excited, I sat cross-legged in front of the family television set and watched the fuzzy, indistinct, shapes of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin moving about amid the grey wash that was the surface of the Moon. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great book by Gerald North 12 Feb 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a good update to the first issue, with lots of new information and great images of the moon. The author is easy to read and leaves no description too short.
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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice for practical moon observing 10 Feb 2002
By A Customer
Nice book to discover the moon and study it, with practical recomendations on equipment to observe, draw, photograph and ccd image it.
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Amazon.com: 2.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the best Moon book! 29 Aug 2001
By Geoff Gaherty - Published on Amazon.com
It is difficult to know what to say about this book. The author has invested much time in preparing it, and Cambridge has done an excellent job of reproducing the many fine drawings and photographs included. Yet it leaves me surprisingly flat; I suspect this is a book which will sit on my shelf rarely opened.
The book is strangely lopsided. Its longest and best section, fully half the book, is a set of detailed descriptions of forty-eight selected regions of the Moon, selected for their topographic variety and interest. Each region is illustrated by photographs and drawings under various illuminations, and North provides descriptive text and an at-the-eyepiece tutorial. The drawings are typical of the British school of lunar drawing: meticulous pen and ink drawings which are striking to look at, but so stylized as to bear little resemblance to what one sees through the eyepiece.
This massive descriptive section is preceded by seven short chapters to provide the reader, whom North typifies as an "interested amateur astronomer who is yet to become a lunar specialist," with the background necessary to begin observations of the Moon. After an introductory chapter, there are sections on the history of lunar observation, equipment and visual observation, photography, electronic imaging, the physical nature of the Moon, and reference sources. Following the large descriptive chapter, there is a chapter on transient lunar phenomena, obviously a subject dear to North's heart. Much of this material is superficial, but it is interlaced repeatedly with rather technical sections, almost as if the author wished to show off his scientific credentials.
When I initially started to read the book, I gravitated to the chapter on reference sources. Clearly North's favourite source is Lunar Sourcebook-a User's Guide to the Moon. Unfortunately this is currently out-of-print. North lists seven books and maps taken from Sky Publishing's web site, which includes such standards as Antonin Rükl's Atlas of the Moon, and then makes an extraordinary statement: "I must admit that I have no personal experience of the adequacy, or otherwise, of any of these items." In other words, he has not bothered to consult a large part of the standard reference works for lunar observers! This was when I seriously began to doubt the quality of the research underlying the rest of the book.
Finally, there is the question of North's writing style. This is what I call the "chatty British eccentric" style, typified by the writing of Patrick Moore and Gerald Durrell. While charming to some in small doses, it definitely becomes tiresome in a long book. Then there is his constant whining about the page limitations imposed on him by his publisher, which he repeatedly uses as an excuse to flog his other book and just about anything else published by Cambridge. It took a major effort of will for me to wade through all this.
So what is an amateur astronomer interested in the Moon to do? My favourite book on the Moon, Rükl's Atlas mentioned above, is currently out-of-print, but due to be reprinted by Sky soon. It is what I always keep at hand while observing the Moon, and is well worth seeking out on the used market. I can't in all honesty recommend North's book to either a beginner or a more advanced student of the Moon.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid, But Far Too Compressed 16 Aug 2001
By Doc Kinne - Published on Amazon.com
North is a respected person in the amateur lunar community. Given that, I can't help but wish this book could have been somehow better.
North starts out by giving a good account of the Moon itself, dealing with such concepts as gravity, tides, phases, libration, lunar coordinates, and occultations. He then goes forward to give a short account of pioneering lunar selenography. Then he goes onward with chapters dealing with drawing the Moon through a telescope and photographing the Moon with both cameras and CCDs. All of these chapters, while good, could have been more in depth, I think.
A (very) short chapter on the Moon as it is studied from the desktop is included. This so barely scratches the surface the chapter is easy to miss.
The largest portion of the book is a chapter (over 100 pages long) on selected lunar landscapes. This is a great part of the book and North does a great job with it. It seems the only part of the book that isn't cut short due to space considerations, but here more could possibly been done.
Finally, there is a short, but good chapter on Transient Lunar Phenomena, the subject that North has been working on for some years.
In the end, the most annoying part of the book for me was North saying again and again and AGAIN that "much more could be said about this, but I'm already over the page allotment that my publisher set." In the end, due to this, "Observing the Moon" is largely an average book...that has two GREAT books struggling to get out of it.
Want a first book on the Moon? You can start with this, but it will only whet your appetite for more...which may not be a bad thing.
Mr. North, I look forward to you working on the next version of this book. However, for the next version, if possible, split it into the two great books that are struggling to get out of the book you've written: one book that is just Chapter 8 ("Selected Lunar Landscapes") and another book that is all the other chapters.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More a reference than a read 1 Aug 2002
By R. Bartlett - Published on Amazon.com
North's very attractive book struck me less as a "good read" than as a useful reference for the amateur astronomer. The half of the book devoted to an "A-Z" of lunar landscapes in particular is quite good for this purpose -- if you've been out viewing the moon and are curious to know more about a particular feature, both the text and photographs are of value. I agree with a previous reviewer that this would have been better as two books. The overview chapters are well written but not of much value to the advanced astronomer; the information on CCDs, software etc. is likely to age pretty quickly. The info on transient lunar phenomena is interesting but not of much use unless you have a big 'scope. Still, as a reference book for lunar features I haven't seen much else that compares with it.
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