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on 13 December 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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on 19 March 2011
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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