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The Observer's Sky Atlas: With 50 Star Charts Covering the Entire Sky Paperback – 5 Sep 2007
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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."
SKY & TELESCOPE
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
Top customer reviews
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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.
5) Final Tip (and this is a GOOD ONE): Go to Kinko's and have them trim a very little bit of the spine off the book so it becomes loose leaf - THEN have them spiral wire bind it. It is wonderful! You can open the book fully flat or even fold it back on itself with ease. I've done this with several of my smaller/thinner paperback reference books and it makes them so, SO much more easier to use. The original glued bindings make it difficult to open these books to get at the information near the crease. And in cold weather or with much use they crack and pages come loose. And the glued bindings don't open flat; they are constantly springing shut. The one caution is to trim the *least* amount possible from the spine - enough to get all the glued portion off but not so much as to loose information. Try it. It is really worth it.
Buy this book! It takes a while to get accustom to it but once you do you'll love it. I would rate it the number one guide for star gazing.
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. Several other columns have been added that are to assist in finding an object on the adjacent chart and to identify its magnitude. Although I did not find these particularly useful, others may.
At the beginning of the book there is a chart that I do not remember from the first edition that describes how natural and man-made light pollution affects the view of objects and shows how many objects can be seen under what conditions. All together the books positive changes balance the negative ones nicely. It will still be my first choice at the telescope. One negative that might exist for users new to the sky is that now there may be too much information on each page. I do not think that will be a problem for most. Thanks for the new edition!
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.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
It turns out that what I had in the way of a star atlas was not terribly suited for my new endeavor. My atlases are all geared for deep space observing with big reflectors. They are well worn and tattered and I know from experience that although I have loved them to death, I will learn to hate them if I attempt an observing program with an 80mm telescope.
So..... during the past few weeks, I've been looking for the perfect reference material. A friend of mine turned me on to "The Observer's Sky Atlas" by E. Karkoschka. I briefly looked through his and decided immediately that I "needed" one. I've used many of the other atlases geared towards small telescpes but I've decided that this one will be my new companion over the next few months.
My grab and go observing will be just that... grab and go. I wanted a volume that fits that bill. The atlas is a small paperback about 6 x 8 inches. Within it's pages you'll find 250 deep space wonders along with 250 double stars complete with pictures and easy to use reference charts.
Each set of pages includes a table of interesting objects to see on the left side and a chart on the right. The table lists the objects of interest, along with pertinent data. There's your mix of deep space objects, open clusters, binary stars, and standard stars. Refractors are very nice for just looking at your standard stars you know. You got your big ones, your blue ones, your red ones.... There are two additional pieces of data that this volume provides lacking in so many other references. The first is the estimated distance in light years. I love this! The other is a guide to help you determine the difficulty in seeing the object shown by a die (as in dice). A six is super easy, a one will be more challenging.
Near the back of the book are black and white photos of all 250 deep space objects in the guide. This is really nice for your daytime aspects of your observing program or to tease out what you think you see as you compare it to the photograph.
At the back of the book is a full sky chart showing all of the constellations and a key to help you zoom in on the individual charts in the book.
I am sure that all objects in the book are observable in an 80mm scope and that is why I so heartily recommend this book. This is also a volume that I can highly recommend for budding astronomers. I see little mention of it in observing circles but it is a true little jewel. Get it!
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!