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David Levy's Guide to Variable Stars, Second Edition Paperback – 15 Dec 2005

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2nd ed. edition (15 Dec. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521608600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521608602
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 1.5 x 24.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,598,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


'… as a simple guide for the novice observer, this volume has no rival.' Astronomy Magazine

'A well-written guide, by one of this country's most enthusiatic amateur astronomers …' Andrew Fraknoi, Mercury

'If you think variable star observing is boring, this book will convince you otherwise. Most importantly, Observing Variable Stars will get you outside looking at the sky.' Deep Sky

'This new book is delightful … The work is well researched, thought out, and executed … For those of you who have not yet been introduced to variable stars, enjoy this introduction. For those already acquainted with 'variables', give yourself a few cloudy nights with this delightful book!' The Strolling Astronomer

'This is a quality book throughout. I recommend it highly to amateurs everywhere who feel that they have passed the 'star gazing' stage and now wish to make their own personal contribution to human knowledge. The publishers are to be commended for giving David Levy the chance to make it available to a wide audience …' The Reflector

'The text is very anecdotal and easy to read, with many lessons for us all in the process.' Gnoman

'… there is always the promise that the observer will make a truly important astronomical discovery. … this book provides all the necessary advice and instructions for the variable star novice … also offering some interesting reading for those already acquainted with this topic. … here is a real opportunity to leave your mark in the heavens.' Astronomy & Space

'This is by far the most accessible book for beginning variable star observers in print. Everything you need to know to get started in variable star observing is laid out in an easy to follow, logical progression. Levy describes things in a non technical manner that makes it understandable to everyone. More importantly, his enthusiasm for the subject is infectious and his personal stories and experience make the book that much more readable. …If you are just getting started, or contemplating observing variable stars, buy this book first. By the end you will be hooked … and well on you way to enjoying a hobby that will keep you busy and happy for years to come.' American Association of Variable Star Observers Bookstore

'Illustrated with some interesting light curves, many finder charts and a few photographs, this inspiring introduction to variable star observing gives the beginner an excellent start and an incentive to investigate further. It has brought some interesting stars to my notice.' Journal of the British Astronomical Association

Book Description

Variable stars are fascinating objects to observe and can be seen with even the most basic of equipment. In this highly accessible book David Levy teaches the reader how variable stars work, and how to observe them. This book will serve to motivate anyone to begin observing these fascinating objects.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Written in a way that engages the reader through Levy's personal experience; both the ups and downs. Levy gives inspiration to get the observer through those early and frustrating times in variable star observation.The perfect companion to this book is Understanding Variable Stars by John R. Percy (Cambridge) which gives a more in depth journey through the various categories of variable stars.
Levy's guide is a a recommended introduction to this topic.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you become interested in variable stars and observing them, this is definitely the book to start with. Clear, friendly text with good examples. It looks a little too simple when you "look inside" but there is enough to orientate you, help you to start and then to keep you going for a long while.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Previously published as 15 May 2007
By urban astronomer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Execpt for mention of the isbn, there is little indication that this is the second editon of the previously published book under a different title. Observing Variable Stars: A Guide for the Beginner See the reviews for more on this book.

What has changed with this edition is an updating of the earlier with a new chapter on CCD photometry. Also added is a section on Clyde Tombaugh and TV Corvi (a cataclysmic variable star). Missing from this new edition is an anectdote about a bet Levy made over SS Cygni (another cataclysmic variable). Otherwise, execept for a slight change in layout and smaller text size this is essentially the same book as the aforementioned "Observing Variable Stars".

Those like myself who would (in my case did) purchase this believing it to be more or less different in content than Levy's earlier book might want to take note.

But make no mistake, whichever edition you get, this is an excellent and inspiring guide to the newbie variable star observer.

One last piece of advice. Whatever book on variable star observing you get, you should go to the official AAVSO website to obtain the latest, most accurate comparison star charts to use. [...]

Some, such a the charts for the star R Leonis (which I was trying out from his book) have had the magnitudes of the comparison stars revised since the publication of even this updated edition of the book.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars David Levy's Guide to Variable Stars 27 May 2010
By John A. Shaw - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a nice easy to read book to give to a newcomer to variable stars. The book focuses on a few stars of each type that are easy to observe with binoculars or a small telescope. The finder charts are old ones from the AAVSO and are, as one reviewer noted, a bit out of date now. The reader should go to the AAVSO web site at and use their online chart generator and other tools to get more up to date data. The AAVSO site has vastly improved in recent years. The Variable Stars of the Season articles should be explored by every novice observer. The pleasure of observing (and the occasional hardships) is communicated well in Levy's book and make this a good cloudy night read as well as an observing guide.

As a note, occasionally the AAVSO chart generator gets the data wrong for a star since it relies on the current version of the General Catalog of Variable Stars (GCVS) for its data and any error there gets propagated to the chart generator. I actually used an old chart from Levy's book which had the correct magnitude range from visual observations to correct my computer generated chart. One of the joys of the computer age is how bad data and a search engine can make a single error prevalent worldwide at the speed of light. Having an independent reference is a good thing.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like it and learning from it. 23 Feb. 2014
By J. Lawler - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book used and for a used book price its good - not great but good. Levy introduces you to the basics of estimating stellar magnitudes and a broad and light introduction into variable star physics. He points out the really interesting variable stars and identifies those stars you should use to estimate the variable star's magnitude. I recommend this book.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Intro To Variable Stars 14 Sept. 2009
By Thomas - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A nice intro to variable star observing. Levy writes in an accessible, easy to read style and his "targets" are easy to find. I've always been curious about what some people called the "cosmic antics" of variable stars so I bought the book, read a few chapters and went hunting. I've observed a few stars for a few nights and though not sure if this is for me, am glad I have the book and a little more understanding about variable stars. Exactly what I was looking for and I can rely on Levy to guide me deeper into the realm of variable star observing should I wish to pursue the practice.
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