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9 Reviews
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Books......, 3 July 1999
By A Customer
Burnham is a "given" among amateur astronomers. Until quite recently there was no work other than this that contained so much useful information in one place. It's also much more than just a reference. Despite his twenty years at Lowell Observatory, Burnham seems to have remained an "amateur" in the highest sense. His love of the night sky is plainly communicated not only in his entertaining digressions into myth and poetry but also by the obvious effort he put in before the days of PC's and word processors. I began by using these books to get information on objects I already had in mind, but very quickly, the inconspicuous and the usually overlooked began to take on a "real identity" when Burnham spoke about them. The sky became immeasurably richer. Burnham died destitute in 1993. I'm in his debt. He's that wise and experienced friend standing at my side sharing what he knows.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction on Astronomy Fundamentals, 11 April 1999
By A Customer
I was impressed with these books (set of 3 volumes) the very first time I saw them.
The introduction in the first book brings a beginner up to speed on what is really happening 'out there'. For beginners and seasoned amateurs alike, it helps you to appreciate the objects in the universe, their sizes, the scale of the universe, and our place in it. They help a person to answer the question, "What do I look for?". The long introduction is both a fine tutorial, and a great review, to help one get and keep 'the big picture' in mind.
The books inculde a massive amount of detailed information on objects in every constellation. They earn their own way to a place in my library.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential information for the amateur, 20 Jan. 1999
By A Customer
This series of three books contain the most precise information in a usable form for the amateur that I have seen. A classic series that would be almost impossible to duplicate. Although limited to 1950 co-ordinates for celestial objects this does not detract from the usability of the information contained within the pages. Clearly and consisely written, with background information as well as clear descriptions of the objects listed. The books could have constellation maps, but since I use them with a star atlas this would be a luxury.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just an opinion, 23 Jan. 2012
After reading many many reviews concerning Burnahm's "Magnum Opus", i decided to go for it and have a first hand experience of the 3 volumes of the "Burnham's Celestial Handbook".

The feeling that you get just by browsing through the pages and illustration, is like a picture of a dedicated scientist over his typewriter some decades ago, struggling to bind his manuscripts (of almost 2000 pages) into a complete consistent work. Yes, the books look somewhat "old", feel "old", they almost smell "old". Ok, now let's think a little bit about the definition of the word "old" concerning 2 major elements. The existence of the Cosmos and the changes that it goes through as the millenia pass by and on the other hand the puny lifespan of a human being.
But, you'll say (and it's true), during the last 50 years science made great leaps forward... and those "leaps" are not included. True, "black holes", "wormholes", "String theory" etc. are not included. On top of that, the reader must always have in mind that the coordinates of the star maps (after about 50 years) may very well be obsolete.

Well, here's my view of the case...
The author himself writes in his introduction that the celestial handbook is meant to be used in conjunction with a good star atlas. Secondly it is meant to be used as a guide and reference basically at home and not like "pocket books" in star parties. There are other works that fulfill this task much better.

The books are ideal for the advanced amateur. For the young (or not so young) novice, the amount of symbols and terms can be overwhelming. For the "almost professional", the absence of the black holes and the obsolete data, (concerning, for instance, the magnitude of some variable stars) can be frustrating, or just useless.
The thing is, what i see before me is 3 volumes, literally full of astronomy i can understand. Written in a narrative way that is a pleasure to read, full of history, folklore (yes, i seem to enjoy that), mythology and above all thousands of objects (in great detail) for the advanced amateur observer to learn, to hunt and share.
Let me give you an example... The M44 Beehive cluster, is in the constellation of Cancer, and its about 525 light years away. This and almost 2 pages of data (much more complicated) for this object alone, won't change significantly for many generations to come. Plus, i got to learn among others, that "Aratus and Pliny have both stated that the invisibility of the object in an otherwise clear sky was considered to forecast the approach of a violent storm". If you think that anything of this sort is pure "folklore garbage", then maybe the book is not for you. But anything that is simply "not for you" is not considered garbage.

Closing this extended review i find it absolutely necessary to speak a little bit about how the books are organised. The 1st volume begins with an introduction, followed by 2 chapters (almost 100 pages) with what the author regarded as "basic knowledge" for anyone who considers himself a decent amateur observer. Subjects like "the constellations", "working knowledge of the heavens", "how coordinates work", "the magnitude system" etc. Absolutely necessary information in my humble opinion.
Then, alphabetically, the author goes through all the 88 constellations of the northern and southern hemisphere. Each constellation is divided into four subject sections: "List of double and multiple stars", "List of variable stars", "List of star clusters, nebulae and galaxies" and finally "Descriptive notes".
Personally, i find it very easy to go through the pages to the constellation and the kind of objects i want to study in a particular night.
What if the index for the three books is only at the end of the 3rd volume. Remember, it's not the kind of book you'll need to take with you in every "star party". All you have to do, is plan well your next observing session beforehand.

Apologies for anything badly written or expressed, as english is not my native language.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good source of information, but dated and poorly presented, 4 Jun. 1998
By A Customer
I found this and the other two volumes of the 3-volume set to be chock-full of useful information about astronomy in general, especially the intro sections of volume one. Throughout the volumes each constellation is descibed in detail and with the amatuer astronomer using a small scope in mind. But...the index to all three volumes is in volume 3, while the table definitions are in volume 1 only. And all celestrial locations are based on the 1950 epoch. So it's use as a star-locator is limited, and is not for field use, IMO. Hence the low score. But the celestrial descriptions alone make this required reading for amatuer astronomer's... Just make sure you get all three volumes!!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a must for every amateur astronomer, 5 Aug. 1998
By A Customer
i'm an amateur astronomer since 1985 and own the 3-volume set of burnham's handbook since 1987. believe me: there's nothing comparable to this work. eventhough it gives 1950 coordinates, it's still the most complete listing of interesting and observable-by-the-amateur heavenly bodies available. besides, its explanations and photographs are just beautiful. burnham's handbook together with a fine atlas opens you the very doors of the heavens.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A really interesting series of books., 9 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Burnham's Celestial Handbook, Volume One: An Observer's Guide to the Universe Beyond the Solar System: 1 (Dover Books on Astronomy) (Kindle Edition)
A really interesting series of books. The information is rather out of date in many places but interesting to see how the things have developed over the years
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5.0 out of 5 stars A handbook that every amateur astronomer should have in all ..., 21 Aug. 2014
A handbook that every amateur astronomer should have in all 3 volumes. It was well packed and arrived very quickly.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I did not know that., 27 Jun. 1999
By A Customer
I am currently in the process of reading the three book series where I have found has indepted descriptions and charts of all of the current heavenly bodies our of our solar system from its declination, right ascentions to each and ever known conponent of the latter. I would as of now recomend this book for everyone whose plans on the Astrophysics feild for a guide for all Astronomical Veiwing.
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