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Star Maps: History, Artistry, and Cartography (Springer Praxis Books / Popular Astronomy) Paperback – 24 Aug 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Praxis; 1st ed. 2007. Corr. 2nd printing edition (24 Aug. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0387716688
  • ISBN-13: 978-0387716688
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 2.4 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,266,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


From the reviews: "Lucky me. I just received Star Maps: History, Artistry, and Cartography by Nick Kanas (Springer, 2007). This is one thorough and highly illustrated book! … In addition to numerous black-and-white illustrations, three sections (totaling 76 pages) reproduces star maps in color. Several appendices and a glossary round out this terrific book. If you’re interested in acquiring some of the magnificent maps Kanas describes, be sure to read Appendix A, ‘Collecting celestial maps and prints.’" (Michael Bakich, Astronomy Magazine, November, 2007) "This work will undoubtedly become a standard reference work for this study. … this is an extraordinary book at a very reasonable price by one of our own members who is a world class observer and a highly skilled writer. I’m sure you will enjoy reading it. … Well done, Nick. Your efforts will be appreciated for many years to come." (Bill Warren, California Map Society Newsletter, Vol. 2K+7 (4), 2007) "This California psychiatry professor has poured decades of personal fascination with old star maps into a comprehensive survey, which goes from antiquity through the 20th century. … More than 200 illustrations, 76 in color, are nicely presented for a book of modest … format. … An appendix contains wise advice for anyone collecting antiquarian star maps." (Roger Sinnott, Sky & Telescope, March, 2008) "Today’s interplanetary probes and space stations make it easy to overlook that it all began by simply looking up at the sky and charting the stars. … As you might expect in a book on maps, the many illustrations (76 in colour) are well reproduced … . In the forward, Norman Thrower (UCLA) opines that this work will become ‘an important reference work’ for those interested in the history of stellar cartography. I heartily agree. It’s a thumping good read too!" (Steve Ringwood, Astronomy Now, March, 2008) "Dr. Kanas is the author of a wonderful book: Star Maps … . His enthusiasm leaps from every page of this detailed investigation of the development of celestial prints and star atlases. It chronicles attempts to chart the stars from ancient times to today. … As well as exploring the changing equipment in astronomy and cartography, the book covers the philosophies and personalities that saw star charts develop from images of gods and animals into the more scientific … maps in use today." (, February, 2008) "Nick Kanas, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco who clearly loves antique star maps, has written a wonderfully attractive and informative book for collectors and aficionados. … Readers will certainly appreciate the many illustrations in this book, a good number of them in full color." (Deborah Jean Warner, The Portolan, Spring, 2008) "The book is profusely illustrated, with some charts in color. It includes mapping of the 48 constellations that were listed by Ptolemy in classic times and are still retained … . Kanas charts the sky models of the classical, medieval, and modern arrangements of the solar and stellar systems throughout recorded history, and their rationales. Because this volume covers much of astronomy before the physics of Newton and others, it is well recommended for most libraries. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty." (A. R. Upgren, CHOICE, Vol. 45 (7), 2008) "In this book Dr Nick Kanas has provided a comprehensive guide which should help collectors, librarians and historians through this difficult but rewarding subject. … This book covers an important division of the history of science and of mapping, and on the whole it does it very well. … a book that will rightly take its place as a useful reference source for anyone concerned with the history of celestial mapping." (Peter Whitfield, IMCoS Journal, Spring, 2008) "We … have in this comprehensive book by Kanas, a new and timely source for context and guidance on the full scope of celestial imagery. … a primer on the history of astronomy for a print collector drawn to the celestial domain, as well as a practical guide to the identification and understanding of these attractive maps and charts. … Kanas’s book is an important compendium of celestial imagery. … And it is reasonably priced." (Michael Mendillo, Imago Mundi, Vol. 60 (2), 2008) "Nick Kanas, is an avid collector of celestial maps and charts. He has taken his many years of collecting expertise and condensed it into a marvellous book on this fascinating aspect of enjoying the night sky. His book is filled with 207 colour and black-and-white images of celestial maps from all ages. … very easy to follow and a real joy to read. … I highly recommend this book to students of the history of astronomy or anyone interested in observing the night sky." (Robert A. Garfinkle, The Observatory, Vol. 128 (1205), August, 2008) "Star Maps is perhaps the most comprehensive treatment of astronomical cartography since ... 1932. Star Maps is a 380-plus page, inch-thick slab of well-written information. ... Throughout, the book is well illustrated with monochrome photographs accompanying the description of individual publications and topics. ... In summary, Prof. Kanas has produced a superb addition for the library of anyone interested in the history of astronomy. Star Maps is likely to become the standard reference on astronomical cartography for many years hence." (Kevin Kilburn, SHA Newsletter, Issue 17, October, 2008)

About the Author

Nick Kanas, M. D, is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. He has been a member of the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers since 1978 and has collected and researched antiquarian celestial books, atlases, and prints for nearly 25 years. He is a member of several map collector societies and has lectured on the history of celestial cartography at scientific and non-scientific meetings of organizations such as the Sydney (Australia) Observatory, the 20th International Conference on the History of Cartography, and the California Map Society. He also has written articles on this subject for a number of journals and magazines, including Sky & Telescope, Mercury, Imago Mundi, Mercator's World, and the Journal of the International Map Collectors' Society. Professor Kanas has written over 160 professional articles and 3 books, including, with D. Manzey, Space Psychology and Psychiatry (Kluwer/Springer, 2003), which won the 2004 International Academy of Astronautics Life Science Book Award. He also won Honorable Mention in the 2006 Boeing/Griffith Observer Science Writing Contest for his astronomy article on "Sacrobosco's De Sphaera" (which was published in the astronomy magazine Griffith Observer, sponsored by the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles).

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K. J. Kilburn on 19 Feb. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nick Kanas's Star Maps has to be one of the most comprehensively researched and most expertly written descriptions of astronomical cartography published in the past century. Physically, his book is an inch-thick block of detailed information, superbly illustrating the history and explaining the philosophy of astronomical cartography from its beginnings in ancient eastern cultures down to the 21st Century western star mappers.

Kanas's Star Maps will rapidly become a standard reference for astronomical historians, and also for fine art dealers and collectors.

Kevin J Kilburn FRAS
Secretary, the Society for the History of Astronomy
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By eclipsechaser on 18 July 2010
Format: Paperback
This is an excellant book and is exactly what the review says. A good reference book all round and full of interesting information as well as informative diagrams and photos.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 13 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Star Maps, a British perspective 21 Mar. 2008
By KJ Kilburn - Published on
Format: Paperback
Nick Kanas's Star Maps is perhaps the most comprehensive book on astronomical cartography to be published in the last 50 years. It is an inch-thick mass of well-illustrated information and is worth its weight in gold just for the mini-biographies of astronomers spanning three millenia and four continents. Its content belies its very modest price. Star Maps will likely become the standard reference on astronomical cartography for many years to come.
Kevin J Kilburn FRAS.
Secretary, the Society for the History of Astronomy
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
STAR MAPS is a cartographer's dream 31 Jan. 2008
By P. Hunt - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm starstruck with delight! Whoever wants to verify how the stars have been perceived for many millennia across the globe will be very satisfied as well as inspired in reading this star history by Kanas. Thorough, erudite, amply documented with many clear appendices yet also accessibly written for general readers, STAR MAPS is a cartographer's dream. The high quality of the many images (over 80 in color, over 125 in black and white) is first rate as well. Kanas has been very careful in presenting the compendium of Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Chinese, Islamic and other cultures who have contributed as much to our knowledge of constellations and astronomy as the more familiar Classical scientists. Major historical persons like Aristarchus of Samos and Claudius Ptolemy are balanced with the later Copernicus, Kepler, Brahe, Galileo and less known astronomers such as Al-Khwarizmi, Sacrobosco and the polymath Thomas Young. As a valuable resource tool for stargazers and academics alike, this book sets the bar very high as the best available history of astronomy.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A British perspective part 2 6 May 2010
By K. J. Kilburn - Published on
Format: Paperback
It is interesting to see the comments, mostly favourable, from other reviewers. The concept of Kanas's Star Maps is truly enormous and can only be compared with other similar books on the subject. From my perspective, it probably has only one peer, 'Astronomical Atlases, Maps and Charts; An Historical & General Guide', by Basil Brown. This was originally published in 1932 and reprinted in 1968 by Dawsons of Pall Mall, London. SBN: 7129 0131 0 . This is the reference work most often quoted on the subject of astronomical cartography but is itself incomplete in its description of some star atlases.

With a subject as specialised as astronomical cartography, rarely discussed outside of a limited field of expertese, the scope of Star Maps is to be applauded. It isn't perfect, what is? But if republished to take account of relatively minor quibbles, it will stand the test of time. I cannot believe that anyone else is likely to tackle astronomical cartography in the foreseeable future.

Regarding star names and star lore, there are more comprehensive books on this subject but this in no way detracts from Nick Kanas's work any more than any book on astronomical history can ever be regarded as being all-encompassing.

KJ Kilburn FRAS
Secretary, the Society for the History of Astronomy
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating read about a topic I knew nothing about! 4 Dec. 2007
By Dave Asheim - Published on
Format: Paperback
I received this book as a gift in the fall, and just finished it. It's terrific. I am just a casual observer of astronomy, but this is not really just an astronomy book -- it's about the art and science of mapping the sky from the very beginning. The author has taken a topic out of the reach of many of us and turned it into one fascinating read. This makes a great present. The maps and the history presented are terrific.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
New reference 5 Jan. 2008
By Marc Hoffeld - Published on
Format: Paperback
"Star Maps" is a new milestone in books about the history of celestial maps. It is in my opinion one of the best works ever written on the subject. Being a collector myself I consider "Star Maps" an unvaluable reference for any enthusiast.
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