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Stargazing Basics: Getting Started in Recreational Astronomy [Paperback]

Paul E. Kinzer
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

9 Oct 2008
How do I get started in astronomy? Should I buy binoculars or a telescope? What can I expect to see? This wonderful informal guide to astronomy has all the information an absolute beginner needs to get started. It explains the basic techniques and equipment you need for exploring the night sky, from observing with the naked eye to using binoculars and telescopes. It then takes you on a tour of the night sky, covering the Moon, Sun, stars, planets, and more. The book gives sound advice on purchasing affordable binoculars, telescopes, and accessories, and is illustrated with photos taken by the author, showing how objects in the sky actually look through modest amateur equipment. Whether you are a parent thinking of buying a telescope for your children, or a newcomer yourself, this book has all you need to know to take the first steps into the fascinating world of astronomy.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 158 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (9 Oct 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521728592
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521728591
  • Product Dimensions: 24.6 x 17.6 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 357,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'Difficult astronomical concepts are explained clearly, there's an excellent glossary and the text is broken up with useful pictures and information boxes.' BBC Sky at Night

'Stargazing Basics: Getting started in Recreational Astronomy presents a brief primer on the equipment used by amateur astronomers, its limitations and how to decide what (if any) new kit you should buy. Author is an amateur astronomer himself and clearly familiar with the challenge of selecting from the dizzying range of possibilities. He wisely avoids recommending particular models … Instead, the book offers tips on telling flashy but poor-quality features from those that will enhance an evening's stargazing.'

'The extensive glossary is a real jargon buster and will be a great help for the absolute beginner. I enjoyed this book hugely and recommend it very strongly. Kinzer is a true enthusiast. If he does not get you out there and looking up, no one will.' The Observatory

'I highly recommend this well-written book for anyone interested in learning about the night sky, using and/or purchasing binoculars or a telescope, and desiring to learn how to become a knowledgeable stargazer.' Sky and Telescope

'This book is nicely designed so as not to intimidate the beginner. … There is good coverage of binoculars, spotting telescopes … and the author avoids discussion of large or expensive equipment and explains how to avoid poor and over-sold telescopes. … There is a nice section on star parties and astronomy clubs. … The book's subtitle 'Getting started in recreational astronomy' is a very fair summary of this very sound book - recommended.' Gnomon

'I was given a telescope in my youth, but despite studying Astrophysics at university I have lacked the confidence to use it for the best part of two decades, but it seems I was not the only one, according to the author's personal anecdotes. A lack of clear and suitable information available to the novice spurred the author on to produce this excellent guide for all those would-be amateur astronomers like myself … This book does exactly what it says on the tin; it is a simple (yet informative) guide to get you started, or what the author describes as allowing the readers to 'dip their toes into recreational astronomy before deciding whether to take the plunge'. This is the perfect guide for anyone thinking about embarking on taking up astronomy as a new hobby.' Federation of Astronomical Societies Newsletter

'This book does a good job of covering most of the aspects of starting recreational astronomy, from naked eye observing to purchasing and using a telescope … the author has done what he set out to do by condensing the basic information together into one book as a general guide.' Hazel Collett, Journal of the British Astronomical Association

Book Description

How do I get started in astronomy? This wonderful informal guide has all you need to know to take the first steps into this fascinating hobby. It explains the basic techniques for observing the night sky, and gives sound advice on purchasing affordable binoculars, telescopes, and accessories.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good for starting up 13 Dec 2011
I thought this was a really good book about starting up in recreational astronomy, giving good practical advice about choosing binoculars and/or a telescope and acessories such as eyepieces. I wholeheartedly concur with the book's advice that a decent middle-sized refractor is the best starter scope. I have only two slight reservations, I feel there should have been a brief discussion of wide angle/premium eyepieces and I would argue that a go-to scope is essential in light-polluted urban areas. However this is a book about starting up as the subtitle makes clear, it is not a complete guide to observing the night sky (there are many alternatives for this purpose, such as Nightwatch, the Collins guide and Turn Left at Orion). Paul Kinzer does stress the value of naked-eye observing but it has to be accepted that naked eye observing for many people was effectively killed off in urban areas by light pollution in the 1980s. It might also be argued that such a starting off guide is of limited value once you have got your equipment and found your way around the sky, but you could save yourself a lot of money and trouble by reading this book first.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I was really pleased with the section on choosing binoculars and telescopes. It had a good section on eyepieces etc. In fact roughly a third of the book is on explaining the equipment.

It also has some good info on the planets and on Deep Sky Objects. However, it did not go into enough details on how to find these delights.

The book starts with a section on naked eye viewing which was really too short. Anyone wanting to start astronomy should be made aware just how much can be seen and learned with their own eyes without any equipment. In this regard the book did not do enough.

In summary the book was fairly good on choosing equipment but a bit light on explaining what is there to be seen.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent brief guide for complete beginner 6 Nov 2008
By Herbert V. Leighton - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Stargazing basics" does a good job of introducing the complete beginner to astronomy and the use of telescopes. It is brief, less than 150 pages, and it focuses on how to buy and operate telescopes that cost less than $500. There are other, much longer guides that deal with more costly telescopes and equipment, but this is the only current guide with the goal of introducing the beginner to astronomy on a budget.

Caveat: Friend of author.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything I needed to know to get started with amateur astronomy 1 Oct 2009
By M. Kinzer - Published on
As someone who knows almost nothing about astronomy (other than vague references I can remember from Intro to Astronomy in college 20 years ago), after reading this easy to understand guide and the fun tidbits about getting started, I feel confident that I am now prepared to take a stab at the skies with my new little telescope.Thanks to your explanations about the choices available within my price range for a new telescope, I feel good about the decision I've made for what kind of scope I should start with, what kind of mount, a few other accessories, and even where I want to begin looking. The price of this book probably saved me a couple hundred dollars in making a better decision about what to buy and what not to buy to get going.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Black-and-white astronomical photographs taken by the writer illustrate this handy reference 14 April 2009
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
Amateur astronomer and educator Paul Kinzer presents Stargazing Basics: Getting Started in Recreational Astronomy, a highly accessible guide to readers of all ages and backgrounds. From where to find affordable binoculars, telescopes, and accessories; to how and why the visible images in the night sky change over time; to getting started in astrophotography, Stargazing Basics is an excellent and easy-to-follow primer. Black-and-white astronomical photographs taken by the writer illustrate this handy reference.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for choosing first telescope and to start with stargazing 8 May 2012
By Mc - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Review for Kindle version.
- guide to chose starting binoculars/telescope
- stargazing basics
- short for the price
- maps look poor on Kindle

Explanations and tips what to look for on starting binoculars/low aperture telescope are well done with practical examples and pictures that help to imagine what you will get and what you will see through it. If you have small or no knowledge on this topic this will help you to avoid mistakes.
Nice introduction to stargazing that will guide you through basic Solar system objects (planets) including basic facts about where to find them and how big they look (angular size). This continues to very basic introduction to deep space objects which can help to point you in the right direction.
At the end there are 8 basic star-maps, one for each season for north and south hemispheres. However on Kindle they look bad lacking detail or sharpness. At least they zoom-up when you turn to landscape and on large Kindle DX they are barely usable. But you can't zoom to arbitrary size like with PDF.
The book would greatly benefit by including chapter on stargazing from light-polluted areas (urban/suburban) and a bit by extending the chapter on deep-space objects.
Overall good purchase for anyone starting with (casual) astronomy. One star down for maps and rather short (but sufficient) size. If you already have good background on choosing telescopes substract one star. If you already know basics of star-gazing substract another one.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good beginners Stargazing book 17 Mar 2012
By George J. Saar - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Bought this at a discount and enjoyed reading it. Very simple and interesting for a newbie. Keeps the hobby simple and fun.
Recommended for young adults as well as us older folks starting in this great hobby.
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