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The Backyard Astronomer's Guide Hardcover – 2 Nov 2002
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One of the best books to guide amateurs.--Tracey Pitch"Anchorage Daily News" (12/10/2010)
About the Author
Terence Dickinson is the author of the best-selling guidebook NightWatch and 13 other books, among them The Universe and Beyond, Splendors of the Universe, Summer Stargazing and Exploring the Night Sky. He is also editor of the Canadian astronomy magazine SkyNews and is an astronomy commentator for Discovery Channel Canada. Alan Dyer is program producer at the Calgary Science Centre Planetarium and a contributing editor to Sky & Telescope magazine. He is widely regarded as an authority on commercial telescopes, and his evaluations of astronomical equipment appear regularly in major North American astronomy magazines.
Top customer reviews
Having read the book from cover to cover, I have to admit, it lives up to its reputation. It's technical enough not to condescend a semi-pro/expert, but it's balanced and basic enough to help a total beginner get a better grasp of the technology behind a wide variety of telescopes and binoculars. After explaining in the detail the key differences, advantages and disadvantages of all the variants of scopes and binoculars, the book goes on to recommending some of the authors best choices, based in part from personal experience and from industry opinion. The section on filters was especially useful and helped me work out the chief differences between wide band, narrow band, oxygen 3 and hydrogen filters.
The book is very well illustrated and offers practical and insightful tips of how to use your scope/bins and how to best cut down on light pollution, prevent dew build up and cleaning your scope carefully and properly. There is an in-depth chapter dedicated to observing planets, the moon, sun and comets and a significant chapter on deep sky objects. Each chapter mentions the best techniques to use to view each type of object and what atmospheric conditions are best quited for each type of object. There is ample mention of CCD technology and the technical terminology which can and will confuse a total beginner.
Above all, the one most notable feature of this book is it's broad coverage on wide variety of frequently asked questions and the way in which is coherently untangles the techno-bable and mystery behind astronomical instruments and their use. In addition, it puts in the context the ever nagging question, "is big always better". If you're a city slicker, in a light polluted area with a big wallet and think bigger is better, read this book first. You might learn a thing or to. Certainly was an eye opener to me!
This book is a real boon to the beginner and a nice compliment to the experienced astronomer who could find it useful as a quick reference guide in part. There is a supporting web site to the book which has a lot of extra information which the book doesn't include, although this fact of "extra information" is clearly mentioned in the opening pages and you're encouraged to explore further on their site.
I'm new to astronomy and this book has been an invaluble help in getting me going. One of the best parts of the book has definately been how to set up your scope, (I was doing it completely wrong!).
Theres lots of information on how to go about viewing the stars -it isn't all about scope magnification !!
It's a book that I know I'll keep coming back to, recomended.
One slight drawback is that it's very US orientated, so 4 not 5 stars.
A fantastic purchase and worth considering if you are just starting out in astronomy, though even a dedicated amateur would learn a thing or two after perusing this weighty tome. A must have for any good astronomy book shelf.
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