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Practical Astronomy with your Calculator or Spreadsheet Spiral-bound – 5 May 2011


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Product details

  • Spiral-bound: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 4th edition (5 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521146542
  • ISBN-13: 978-1858059105
  • Product Dimensions: 18.9 x 1.5 x 24.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 363,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

'The biggest change from previous editions is the inclusion of spreadsheets for nearly every calculation … All in all, this book does a good job at what it sets out to do. The formulas and algorithms are presented clearly and with an appropriate level of detail, and the spreadsheets supplement the text by showing an additional way to perform the computations without having to resort to a scientific calculator or writing your own programs.' Michael Coren, AstroMart.com

'This is a book replete with mathematical calculations but the opening pages to the various sections contain material of interest to the lay reader.' Spaceflight

Book Description

Updated and extended, the fourth edition of this highly regarded book is ideal for those who wish to solve various practical and recreational problems in astronomy using a scientific calculator or spreadsheet. With clear, easy-to-follow instructions, shown alongside worked examples, this handbook can be enjoyed by anyone interested in astronomy.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Lowe on 25 Jan 2012
Format: Spiral-bound
This is a great book for calculations that are relevant to astronomy. It covers aspects of calendars and time (Julian dates, sidereal time, ephemeris time etc), the major coordinate systems (and conversions between them), as well as the positions of the Sun, Moon & planets. Despite being a book of calculations, it does come with some background information on the topics covered to set the scene in each section.

Like a culinary recipe book, I tend to come to this book already knowing what I want to do (e.g. calculate the position of the Moon in the sky) and then just follow the appropriate calculations. The recipes sometimes require you to refer back to previous sections but they are always clear to follow. The worked examples are also very useful to check against if you've transcribed the calculations into your own software.

All-in-all a nice update to the original edition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. J. Godber on 9 Nov 2012
Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
This book is a mix of the simple - introduction to spreadsheets etc to the very complex.
I would like a little more of the theory for some of the calculations rather than just having them presented - but there again it is not designed as a text box.
It was a great help with doing GCSE coursework
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Format: Spiral-bound
Coming from an engineering background, and having an interest in astronomy, I find this book to be perfect in terms of its detail, thoroughness and presentation. Being interested in celestial navigation, I bought this book as a more detailed follow on to Astro Navigation Demystified. Through the calculations presented I can create my own questions without having to refer to the Nautical Almanac. I am thoroughly impressed and the downloadable Excel spreadsheets are a really welcome addition. I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
I purchased the third edition of this book many years ago. At that time it did not include speadsheets. The spreadsheets included in the current edition are excellent and produce more accurate results than before. They can all be downloaded from the website given in the book which takes all the hard work out of the process. A truely excellent book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 10 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Good Introduction to Astronomical Calculations 27 Oct 2011
By Michael Coren - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
This is not a textbook on celestial mechanics, and it makes no pretense of being one. Although there is a good deal of explanatory information and diagrams, particularly in the discussions of orbits, the authors state right in the preface that the calculations are "recipes," and that they mostly consider only the essential factors and ignore many of the more complicated corrections needed for the most precise results. In spite of this, the results of these calculations are typically accurate to within about a tenth of a degree or better, which is well within the field of view of a telescope at medium powers.

The main change from the previous edition, as the title indicates (and the authors explain in the preface), is the addition of spreadsheets for nearly every calculation. The spreadsheets themselves can be downloaded at the publisher's web site [...], and include macros for high precision computations as well. For readers who are not familiar with using spreadsheet programs such as Microsoft Excel and the freely distributed OpenOffice Calc, the book includes an introduction showing the basics of how to use them.

For the most part, the math is limited to high school trigonometry, e.g. sines, cosines, and tangents. The one exception is the section on coordinate transformations using matrices, but this section supplements other methods and is accompanied by a brief but sufficient overview of what a matrix is and how to multiply matrices for those who are not familiar with them.

While I can certainly think of additions I would have liked to see in this new edition (such as discussions of asteroids and trans-Neptunian objects, lunar librations, and an updated comet table), all in all, this book does a good job at what it sets out to do. The formulas and algorithms are presented clearly and with an appropriate level of detail, and the authors walk you through all of the examples in step-by-step detail, showing you the intermediate results you should obtain at each stage. The spreadsheets do a good job supplementing the text and demonstrate an additional tool for performing the calculations.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Perfect companion for a one semester astronomy lab course 14 Oct 2013
By DONALD B. Douglass - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
This book: "Practical Astronomy with your Calculator and Spreadsheet" 4th edition, is an ideal text with which to supplement a one semester course in astronomical computation and observation. Purchase of the text entitles the user to download Excel and Open Office versions of the spreadsheet examples in the book. These spreadsheets are immediately useful in time conversions, illustrating computations of orbital elements of comets, binary stars, eclipses, and much more. I have personally tested a number of the downloaded spreadsheets and have entered some of the examples out of the book and have found no errors in this fourth edition. I checked the errata in the website and have found that all listed errors are corrected in the fourth edition.
Also, I have subjected the entire book to a close read and have found no obvious errors. It is a well organized text and suitable for both the dedicated amateur astronomer as well as an accompaniment to astronomy lab courses as well as astronomy lecture courses. Students and professors of astronomy alike will particularly appreciate the step-by-step exposition of algorithms involved making the equations of time, orbits, and coordinates transparent in each of the 52 spreadsheets accompanying the text.
It is a carefully edited and updated product well worth its price and Amazon delivered on time and in perfect condition via Brown (UPS) right to my front door.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Excellent in every way. 6 Jan 2014
By Bill Leacy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Spiral-bound
Coming from an engineering background, and having an interest in astronomy, I find this book to be perfect in terms of its detail, thoroughness and presentation. Being interested in celestial navigation, I bought this book as a more detailed follow on to Astro Navigation Demystified. Through the calculations presented I can create my own questions without having to refer to the Nautical Almanac. I am thoroughly impressed and the downloadable Excel spreadsheets are a really welcome addition. I highly recommend this book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Excellent choice for an amateur astronomer or anybody derives pleasure from mathematics. 8 Jan 2014
By M. Sprague - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
I have had this book for only a few weeks and it has provided many hours of entertainment. You do not have to be an Einstein to make good use of the tools that are described between it's covers. You do not even need the most sophistocated spreadsheet application -- I interpreted the calculator routines and created magic using a year-1986 version of Microsoft Works and a Mac Classic desktop computer. I expect to have even more fun when I move on to the Open Office spreadsheet functions. Highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
So great but then 18 May 2014
By Graidan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
I was very excited to get this book, and I've been working diligently to create a javascript library from their formulas. Sadly, that won't happen, thanks to numerous errors: different epochs used in formula vs spreadsheet, results in the book that don't match the output, spreadsheet formulas that don't even vaguely match what the presented formula say, and that are not explained, and even typos in the formulae. So frustrated.

It's a great resource, but, take it all with a spoonful of salt.
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