This is a really neat book! It opens up a whole new kind of amateur astronomy;real research projects where you make observations that are useful to professional astronomers.Amateur astronomers can gather new information or make new dsicoveries,using skills that are common amoung experienced stargazers,and equipment that is widely available. Here is a step-by-step instruction manual for getting started in these projects,from learning why each project area is important, to the equipment and procedures that are needed, and how to analyze your results.The chapters are organized roughly in order of increasing difficulty of the projects, from simple(naked-eye meteor counting) to complex (extra solar planet searches and supernova discovery). I was paticularly pleased that each project includes an explaination of how and where to submit your results, so that they will be useful to "real" astronomers.
I do not think there is any compairable book available. There are plenty of "advanced observing guides", and many "textbooks",but this book fits right in between them. It gives careful description of celestial objects or events,and how and why you should try to see them, so it's sort of an observing guide(although there are not any spectacular photos).It also explains why the observations are important,and gives a meticulous explaination of the data gathering and analysis procedures for each project,so it is sort of a textbook. But it is not stuffy,pedantic tome. The style is friendly,helpful and encouraging. There are some equations,but if you made it through high school algebra they will not give you any trouble(and only some projects require you to use them).There is even a story line! Short tales about challenges,successes,and memorable experiences are scattered throughout the text. They make it easy to read,and highlite the author's enthusiasm for his subject.
Any amateur atronomer who has ever wished he could be a "real scientist" will definitely find this book worth having on his desk.