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

Gerald North
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 31.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

25 Oct 2012
Written by a well-known and experienced amateur astronomer, this is a practical primer for all aspiring observers of the planets and other Solar System objects. Whether you are a beginner or more advanced astronomer, you will find all you need in this book to help develop your knowledge and skills and move on to the next level of observing. This up-to-date, self-contained guide provides a detailed and wide-ranging background to Solar System astronomy, along with extensive practical advice and resources. Topics covered include: traditional visual observing techniques using telescopes and ancillary equipment; how to go about imaging astronomical bodies; how to conduct measurements and research of scientifically useful quality; the latest observing and imaging techniques. Whether your interests lie in observing aurorae, meteors, the Sun, the Moon, asteroids, comets, or any of the major planets, you will find all you need here to help you get started.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 511 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (25 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521897513
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521663762
  • Product Dimensions: 24.6 x 19.8 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 741,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

'… engagingly written, and the author's enthusiasm constantly shows through … an attractive book that will serve as a useful guide to those about to enter this complex field.' The Observatory: A Review of Astronomy

'This book is about observing the Solar System and, to be honest, it does what it says on the tin! … I would recommend [it] for an interested amateur astronomer.' Journal of the British Astronomical Association

Book Description

Written by a well-known and experienced amateur astronomer, this is a practical primer for all aspiring observers of the planets and other Solar System objects. Whether you are a beginner or more advanced astronomer, you will find all you need in this book to help develop your knowledge and skills.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars observing the solar system 12 May 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Arrived well on time. Very suitable reference book for those who enjoy observing our Sun, the moon and the planets. Also has articles on telescopes and accessories to those considering astronomy as a hobby. However, this is also a book that the serious observer would find useful.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good primer for amateur astronomers, although might be a bit advanced for true beginners 16 May 2013
By Scott - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Observing the Solar System" is a fairly complete (a relative term when discussing the Solar System) guide for an amateur astronomer to start viewing the night sky. It has a strong focus on planets and comets, and not as much attention to galaxies and some of the Messier objects. There are twelve chapters:

1. Earth and Sky - half is about basic geology of the Earth and the other half discusses meteors.

2. Moon and planet observer's hardware - this whole chapter is about what type of telescope setup you need for observing the moon and planets.

3. The Solar System framed - discusses CCD cameras for amateur astrophotography

4. Stacking up the Solar System - this whole chapter is about "focus stacking" with astrophotography to get better images.

5. Our Moon - This is one of the better chapters of the book and is very comprehensive for an amateur lunar observer. It discusses lunar characteristics and what you can expect when viewing the moon. I found some very useful info in it that I didn't already know.

6. Mercury and Venus - You're not going to see much in a telescope when observing these two planets due to their size and apparent magnitude, but it discusses their orbits and phases and has some interesting info on transits.

7. Mars - a decent chapter on observing through a telescope, and with the naked eye, as well as the orbit of Mars and its moons.

8. Jupiter - One of the better chapters of the book and that I've found in an amateur astronomer's guide, with information on observing the planet and its moons.

9. Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune - Half about Saturn and its moons, and half about Uranus and Neptune.

10. Small Worlds - Asteroids, Pluto, binocular observing, asteroid photography, and photometry (which I feel is a bit dry and could have been left out).

11. Comets - 1/3 discusses comet behavior, and the rest is about comet photography and photometry.

12. Our daytime star - solar characteristics, tips for safe solar viewing without setting your eyeballs on fire, and sunspots.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Serious Work By A Serious Authority 31 Jan 2013
By Daniel Weitz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Ths is not a shallow work produced by a an amateur authority for a transient audience. This is an impressive, detailed work that is meant to be part of a home astronomer's library. It is well illustrated with black and white and colour plates together with appropriate drawings. As the title indicates, it deals with more than just the planets. Comets, asteroids and other "local" phenomena are also covered. I must admit that the occasional mathematical formula, while not overwhelming, did bring on a cold sweat. The appendices on collimating a telescope and polar alignement are quite dated. You can get easier, if less theoretical diections on "YouTube".
5.0 out of 5 stars Good intermediate level book for amateur astronomers 7 April 2013
By Ivan W. Ong - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Planetary observation can be highly addicted but equally highly frustrating. A productive visual or imaging session requires a seemingly impossible confluence of vital factors such as atmospheric stability, accurate optical collimation, proper polar alignment, thermal equilibrium of optics, etc. For folks who live in parts of the country where the jet stream is prevalent, observation can be quite frustrating. This book, written by an experienced and knowledgeable astronomer, does a good job in balancing observational, imaging, and foundational information for intermediate amateurs interesting in taking a more serious step in this area. Three things that would have been nice to mention more: 1. Thermal equilibrium of a telescope. It takes a bit of effort to get a Schmidt-Cass or Maksutov to get into thermal equilibrium. Taking it out of storage with a huge thermal differential with the ambient will guarantee a pretty much useless night of productive observation. Bringing huge optical surfaces from a cold indoors into a warm night will likewise create a huge amount of dew on the optical surfaces. 2. There are, for those starting in the hobby, very nice iPhone observational apps that will help one locate the planets. Other programs will actually show correct real-time features that will allow one to correlate to what is being observed. 3. The choice of a proper equatorial mount and tripod are as vital as selecting the optics. Too often, people get stymied by cheap shaky import mounts and tripods with low stability and poor tracking. Some of these can be surprisingly expensive but useless for serious work.

All in all, a good book and recommended read.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Information For Beginning Star Gazers! 28 Feb 2013
By Katherine Berry - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Since I gave my husband a rather pricey telescope for Christmas, I jumped at the opportunity to order this book via Amazon Vine. Wow, am I so glad I did! The information here is presented in an academic yet engaging format that hooked him from the first page. In addition to covering all of the various phenomena in the solar system (asteroids, comets, etc.), he really enjoyed how each chapter of the book discusses a separate planet in-depth and provides guidance about how and when to look at that planet. We were also pleased to find that it gave him information on using his new telescope. The pictures are gorgeous, too.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Guide, very thorough 26 Feb 2013
By Griswel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've been an amateur astronomer ever since my brother discovered Saturn (it was to the left of the oak tree in our front yard), and this is the best guide I've seen in terms of coverage and quality. For example, the explanation regarding eyepieces was very enlightening, though I've read plenty of reviews and other sources in picking out my own set. Observing the Solar System explains not only what types there are, but why eyepieces are made the way they are and what flaws each design seeks to overcome.

This is an excellent guide for seeing the solar system, but also a good intro to astronomy generally. Most of us come back to the solar system even when we have a keen interest in deep space objects. It's always fun to return to solid objects after spending time with wisps. This book isn't a necessity for such observers, but it is a good source of information you might not otherwise run across.

The only downside I can see is that there is so much attention to detail that it is not easy to get just a little information on any topic. Delve into Mars, for example, and you'll be taken through the difficulties of visually observing the Red Planet and recording observations. This is useful, but for a beginner looking for a simpler how-to it might well be more than the reader can easily digest. It's a great book for beginners, but it's not written to be the first book for beginners.
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