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The Observer's Sky Atlas: With 50 Star Charts Covering the Entire Sky Paperback – 5 Sep 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 172 pages
  • Publisher: Springer; 3 edition (5 Sept. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0387485376
  • ISBN-13: 978-0387485379
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 957,138 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


Praise for the previous editions:
"the most informative little sky guide in the business."

"The more experienced observer will find this slim volume useful at the telescope and packed with interesting observing projects."

From the Back Cover

The Observer's Sky Atlas contains star charts and information for all those who observe the night sky with unaided eyes, with binoculars, or with small telescopes, and also for those who just wish to look at constellations and interesting objects. Equally useful for the beginning observer and the old hand, the atlas presents:

- A short introduction into observing the sky and a thorough description of the star charts and tables

- Clearly arranged charts of all the stars (to 6th magnitude) visible with the unaided eye

- Enlarged chart sections (to 9th magnitude) for binocular observation, highlighting 250 interesting nebulae, galaxies, and stellar clusters

This new third edition features:

- 32 additional pages with images of all the 250 nebulae covered in the atlas

- An updated calendar for the next 20 years

- Double star ephemerides from 2005-2020, including updated tables accompanying star charts

- Predictions for dates and times of variable star minima/maxima based on recent observations

The Observer's Sky Atlas is an indispensable and handy companion for every observer and has already appeared in four languages.

Some praise for previous editions:

"...The most informative little sky guide in the business." -Astronomy

"The more experienced observer will find this slim volume useful at the telescope and...packed with interesting observing projects." -Sky & Telescope

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I agree with R.A. Pollock's review (the first person to review this book and truly worth reading) but would add a few comments:
1) As far as the increase in size over the 1st edition it is less than perceived. This new book is 3/4" taller and only 3/8" wider (I have both copies in hand). But I know what Pollack means...it is just a tad larger and that may mean it doesn't fit in the same old shirt pocket it used to! My first edition was an *incredible* constant companion; it was with me as I lived around the world for three years. It was SO nice to have an atlas that wasn't guilty of Northern Hemispherism. :o)
2) One of the improvements Pollock overlooked was that the new edition's reference map in the back has the constellations outlined in green rather than red. In the first edition all the constellations disappeared under a red light!! For the uninformed, astronomers or just star gazers often use red lights to preserve night vision. Anything printed in red is...gone! The ecliptic is still red in the new edition but I can live with that.
3) The reference chart is also larger and that is helpful for those of us who are getting older and have less flexible eyeballs.
4) One drawback (and I consider it a moderately significant one) is that there are not longer polar reference charts. These were extremely useful in the 1st edition. It is VERY intuitive to think of and view the sky as a dome with a center point. The 2nd edition reference maps are only "flat", i.e., linear so there is a great deal of distortion at the poles. Think of a map of the world and how Greenland and Antartica look huge...but they aren't. Anyway, it bugs me. I'm copying the old polar page from the old edition and pasting it in the new.
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Format: Paperback
I looked forward very much to getting this book. I had a copy of the first edition and lost it on a trip to Chile. Among the several atlases I own, I found this one to be the most convenient for general observing. When I received the new edition, I was at first, disappointed. The older edition was printed on glossy paper that resisted moisture very well while using it in the field and the new version is not. Nevertheless, it is still printed on good paper and may hold up well. Time will tell. One of the other things I liked so much about the older version was the pocket size, and the new edition is about an inch larger in both directions. Again, it is still more handy than a hardbound book like the "Cambridge" or "Norton" atlases. Neither is it so thick that it is difficult to hold open like the "Peterson's" guides.
After examining the contents I saw that the added size was put to good advantage. The same basic charts are there from the first edition, but just a little larger in scale. And now there is quite a bit more information packed on the opposing pages that describe the objects to be viewed. Binary or multiple stars with significant relative motions are plotted so that you can see how the relationship will change over the next 20 years. A visual plot is given of the position angle of these stars rather than just a number. Little thermometers indicate the relative temperatures of each component to give an idea of the color difference to be expected. For regular variable stars a small waveform is often included that describes the period and change in brightness of the star. A set of symbols is now used to describe the ease of visibility of objects and objects with low surface brightness are noted using the same symbols.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wherever you may live in this world, this book will give you a place to look up in the sky. Most star gazing books are for those living in the Northern latitudes. This book doesn't suffer from that fatal flaw.

Along with Sky and Telescopes mini Sky Atlas, this is the other book I use to plan my sessions or figure out what I am seeing in the sky.

It's well organised, and it's easy to find an object within the book in multiple ways, and shows you objects by where they are in the sky. It's very useful the way it's organised and I recommend wholeheartedly and enough detail to keep most Amateur Astronomers busy and informed at the same time.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is an updated version of an earlier version which I have been using for several years. The new version is a very useful aid for observing with a small telescope and binoculars. The book can be used outside because the pages are weather resistant
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars 41 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for the book content, but 3 stars because of errors with the current paperback printing! 15 Dec. 2016
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought a copy of this book after checking out a copy at my local library because I found the book extremely useful for my observing needs, and also very portable, unlike some of my other observing books (e.g. Turn Left at Orion: Hundreds of Night Sky Objects to See in a Home Telescope - and How to Find Them, which is great, but sometimes a bit cumbersome to lug around).

Unfortunately, the paperback copy of this book that I received from Amazon had several substantial errors, although both my copy and the library copy state they are the Third Edition. (I did notice the library copy states "Printed in the United States of America" on the very last page, while my copy from Amazon says "Lightning Source UK Ltd, Milton Keynes UK".)

Substantial errors I've noticed in my copy from Amazon: 1) The "Key to the Star Charts", which is supposed to be on pages 164-165, is missing -- these pages are blank in my version (they are present in the library version as color charts), and without this key it is much less convenient to use the book. 2) The charts for E1 on page 53 are incorrect, as they are just a duplicate of the charts for E2 on page 55, which is extremely annoying (the E1 charts are correct in the library version). 3) The NP chart on page 23 has a mixture of German and English,and part of the Stellar Diameters chart and the finder charts are obscured by the English (also not a problem in the library copy which only has English).

In addition, while the library copy was printed on glossy paper, the Amazon version is printed on non-glossy paper, and the general quality of the printing seems less sharp, has less contrast, and some annoying white stripes in the photos at the end on the book. The printing is not so bad as to be unusable, just noticeable worse than in the library copy, especially on the star charts and photos. The type also seems to be slightly smaller in the Amazon copy, making it a little less easy to read.

Also, it would be nice if the book were spiral-bound, so that it would lie flat and be easier to use while observing (though I knew this in advance, the library copy was also a standard paperback binding).

All in all, this is still an extremely useful little book, and luckily I'll be able to make photo copies of the missing pages from the library copy, so that my copy will be complete. Hopefully these errors will be corrected in future printings!
5.0 out of 5 stars My go to field guide for binos 7 Dec. 2014
By RebekB - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I use both a small telescope and astronomical binoculars, and despite having plenty of books and apps, I use this more than anything else. Check your visible constellations, look up one of interest on the all-sky map in the back, and then turn to the corresponding numbered page listed for each section of the sky. Each detailed constellation map features magnified insets for key objects of interest that enable you to easily star hop to them from the bright constellation stars. Facing each map is a list of objects (Messiers, etc.) for the constellation, with good detail on size, brightness, etc. and notes on whether the object is visible in binos or only telescopes, and what the object should look like. Variable and double stars are also listed.

For observing with large binos and 4-5 inch telescopes, the level of detail on the inset maps is exactly right for star hopping, and I appreciate the extra information provided on whether I'm likely to see an object (which of course also depends on sky conditions). This book is the first one I grab when I'm out in the field. My observing buddies think I have some sort of secret power because I can find things so fast - but that's just down to how easy the maps in this book are to use.

There is one wish I have for this book: Please publish a spiral-bound edition (preferably laminated) as that would make it an even better field guide!
5.0 out of 5 stars Wahoo! 24 Oct. 2014
By Jace Perham - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This observing guide (2nd Edition) was recommended to me by a fellow observer. I used it extensively for all my observing and had notes, times, dates, and drawings of all the objects i'd seen through my 15" Obsession Telescope. I even found the Quasar 3C273 with it. Then I lost it, along with all my eyepeices, through a divorce about 5 years ago. I've been looking for another one, off and on, ever since. I was mostly looking where I purchased the last one which was through S&T but never saw it again. Never thought of looking in Amazon (sorry Amazon) until now. Can't tell you how happy i am to have this book again. It is so well organised and easy to use and has a ton of observing information for every part of the night sky plus the size is perfect. No bulky star maps.The 3rd edition is even better! Highly recommend this and would give it 10 stars if possible. Also, would recommend S&T's Pocket Sky Atlas by Roger Sinnot as a companion (what I've been using between the time i lost The Observer's Sky Atlas until now) You get these 2 books and you will never need anything else.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still One of the Best 20 May 2013
By Dave V. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My astronomy tools are two telescopes and two binoculars: a 70mm Celestron refractor; a 10" Dob; 7x50 Minolta bino's; and 15x70 Celestron giant bino's.

I am a fan of minimalism, and good, old-fashioned star-hopping. I don't want the complication of electronic guide devices, nor do I want to carry tons of stuff to the field. I still need a map to find my way among the stars, however. This handy star atlas bridges the gap between those which offer _almost_ enough detail to star-hop, and the large (and expensive!) star atlases. Plus, the size is absolutely the handiest imaginable: a true pocket-sized reference that lacks nothing.

The third edition features a very nice addition: photos of many of the deep sky objects

Buy two. Keep an intact volume at home for planning, and one to remove the pertinent pages for use at night at the telescope or binoculars.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Atlas, Better Binding Please 16 Jan. 2010
By Arizona Sky - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Observer's Sky Atlas is a wonderful little atlas in concept and, for the most part, in execution. The book was written by a professional planetary astronomer and offers useful star charts on odd numbered pages and tables of information on the even numbered facing pages about the objects shown on the charts. Additionally, the charts contain exploded views of those areas of the sky that contain the objects listed. The exploded areas shown dimmer stars near the objects, and this allows for easier spotting through a finder scope or the telescope, both of which will show stars much fainter than can be see with the naked eye. The charts also have reference numbers to direct the observer to other charts in the book featuring areas of the sky adjacent to the area under observation. This feature makes for quick navigation through the atlas. Additional features include an informative introduction with basic observing information and explanations about the charts and tables in the atlas, a key to the star charts for quickly finding the right page, an almanac containing a list of meteor showers, a lunar calendar and planetary opposition dates through 2018, and a glossary.

I do many public and school star parties with my astronomy club, and this little atlas is a very handy tool. It focuses on the brighter objects most suitable for viewing with smaller telescopes (mine is a 6-inch) and the best objects for showing folks at star parties. The charts outline the constellations and so may be used as planispheres to help people identify star patterns and the location of the objects being viewed relative to those patterns. Moreover, the facing pages contain information that answers those commonly asked questions such as, "how far away is that?" This book has a permanent place among my observing references, and its small size makes is very portable.

The reason I gave the book four stars, though, has to do with the binding. For some inexplicable reason, to me at least, the publisher decided not to use a spiral binding. I can only guess that it's a cost issue. Therefore, the book will not lie flat when open. After one refers to the charts and then turns back to the telescope, the book flops shut. When observing, one typically goes back and forth between the telescope and the atlas, especially if star hopping to find an object. Using an atlas that will not stay open if not held is exceedingly annoying. Of course, one can always carry a bookmark or turn the book over to keep the place, but that should not be necessary. Why any publisher of an astronomy field-reference would omit a spiral binding is a mystery to me.

On a final note, this book seems to be similar in format to Objects in the Heavens, by Peter Birren. I have not seen that book, but the description on Amazon leads me to that conclusion. Birren's book is spiral bound.
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