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Observing the Solar System: The Modern Astronomer's Guide Hardcover – 25 Oct 2012

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 511 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (25 Oct. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521897513
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521897518
  • Product Dimensions: 18.9 x 2.8 x 24.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,061,115 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


'… engagingly written, and the author's enthusiasm constantly shows through … an attractive book that will serve as a useful guide to those about to enter this complex field.' The Observatory: A Review of Astronomy

'This book is about observing the Solar System and, to be honest, it does what it says on the tin! … I would recommend [it] for an interested amateur astronomer.' Journal of the British Astronomical Association

'This book provides useful information which will interest both the observer and the armchair "student" of practical astronomy.' Spaceflight

Book Description

Written by a well-known and experienced amateur astronomer, this is a practical primer for all aspiring observers of the planets and other Solar System objects. Whether you are a beginner or more advanced astronomer, you will find all you need in this book to help develop your knowledge and skills.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Arrived well on time. Very suitable reference book for those who enjoy observing our Sun, the moon and the planets. Also has articles on telescopes and accessories to those considering astronomy as a hobby. However, this is also a book that the serious observer would find useful.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x8d36da38) out of 5 stars 10 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d420f3c) out of 5 stars A good primer for amateur astronomers, although might be a bit advanced for true beginners 16 May 2013
By Reviewer #67845 - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Observing the Solar System" is a fairly complete (a relative term when discussing the Solar System) guide for an amateur astronomer to start viewing the night sky. It has a strong focus on planets and comets, and not as much attention to galaxies and some of the Messier objects. There are twelve chapters:

1. Earth and Sky - half is about basic geology of the Earth and the other half discusses meteors.

2. Moon and planet observer's hardware - this whole chapter is about what type of telescope setup you need for observing the moon and planets.

3. The Solar System framed - discusses CCD cameras for amateur astrophotography

4. Stacking up the Solar System - this whole chapter is about "focus stacking" with astrophotography to get better images.

5. Our Moon - This is one of the better chapters of the book and is very comprehensive for an amateur lunar observer. It discusses lunar characteristics and what you can expect when viewing the moon. I found some very useful info in it that I didn't already know.

6. Mercury and Venus - You're not going to see much in a telescope when observing these two planets due to their size and apparent magnitude, but it discusses their orbits and phases and has some interesting info on transits.

7. Mars - a decent chapter on observing through a telescope, and with the naked eye, as well as the orbit of Mars and its moons.

8. Jupiter - One of the better chapters of the book and that I've found in an amateur astronomer's guide, with information on observing the planet and its moons.

9. Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune - Half about Saturn and its moons, and half about Uranus and Neptune.

10. Small Worlds - Asteroids, Pluto, binocular observing, asteroid photography, and photometry (which I feel is a bit dry and could have been left out).

11. Comets - 1/3 discusses comet behavior, and the rest is about comet photography and photometry.

12. Our daytime star - solar characteristics, tips for safe solar viewing without setting your eyeballs on fire, and sunspots.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d286240) out of 5 stars A Serious Work By A Serious Authority 31 Jan. 2013
By Daniel Weitz - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ths is not a shallow work produced by a an amateur authority for a transient audience. This is an impressive, detailed work that is meant to be part of a home astronomer's library. It is well illustrated with black and white and colour plates together with appropriate drawings. As the title indicates, it deals with more than just the planets. Comets, asteroids and other "local" phenomena are also covered. I must admit that the occasional mathematical formula, while not overwhelming, did bring on a cold sweat. The appendices on collimating a telescope and polar alignement are quite dated. You can get easier, if less theoretical diections on "YouTube".
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d1fab88) out of 5 stars Good intermediate level book for amateur astronomers 7 April 2013
By Ivan W. Ong - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Planetary observation can be highly addicted but equally highly frustrating. A productive visual or imaging session requires a seemingly impossible confluence of vital factors such as atmospheric stability, accurate optical collimation, proper polar alignment, thermal equilibrium of optics, etc. For folks who live in parts of the country where the jet stream is prevalent, observation can be quite frustrating. This book, written by an experienced and knowledgeable astronomer, does a good job in balancing observational, imaging, and foundational information for intermediate amateurs interesting in taking a more serious step in this area. Three things that would have been nice to mention more: 1. Thermal equilibrium of a telescope. It takes a bit of effort to get a Schmidt-Cass or Maksutov to get into thermal equilibrium. Taking it out of storage with a huge thermal differential with the ambient will guarantee a pretty much useless night of productive observation. Bringing huge optical surfaces from a cold indoors into a warm night will likewise create a huge amount of dew on the optical surfaces. 2. There are, for those starting in the hobby, very nice iPhone observational apps that will help one locate the planets. Other programs will actually show correct real-time features that will allow one to correlate to what is being observed. 3. The choice of a proper equatorial mount and tripod are as vital as selecting the optics. Too often, people get stymied by cheap shaky import mounts and tripods with low stability and poor tracking. Some of these can be surprisingly expensive but useless for serious work.

All in all, a good book and recommended read.
By wogan - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a book for the dedicated nighttime sky watcher. It contains abundant information on using a telescope, choosing one and considerable material on photographing the bodies in our system. Chapters include; the earth and sky, the moon and observer's hardware (costs are included for the most part), photographing the solar system, Mercury and Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, asteroids, comets, the sun. There is good information in the appendix section regarding telescopes and there is a detailed index.

I do wish more of the illustrations were in colour. Sometimes, some information is not illustrated, that needed to be, like that on noctilucent clouds. There are only 8 pages of colour plates. The many line diagrams are good and there is abundant common sense advice on observing the solar system.
The history of many of these bodies and that of unmanned spacecraft is given. The `old-fashioned' idea of drawing the planets you observe is interesting and a challenge to those who are fascinated by this. The reliability of solar filters is stressed with some sites included and some suggested excellent books for further investigation on viewing solar eclipses.

This book is for your committed sky gazer. The information is somewhat technical, but explained in a simplified fashion. This is the solar system, including visitors such as comets, asteroids and meteorites - not the stars or constellations.

HASH(0x8d4055d0) out of 5 stars For the Serious Amateur Astronomer 24 Jan. 2013
By Karen in Mommyland - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have a sixth grader who is very interested in astronomy. We have several excellent books on the topic for her which she has utilized to improve her ability to locate various planets and constellations with her telescope. When I happened upon Observing the Solar System: The Modern Astronomer's Guide and saw that it was suitable for begging amateur astronomers, I figured it was worth getting to see if it would help her or us to help her in this hobby that she loves. Once I opened this book up I realized that this was not necessarily a book for a middle schooler. The book reads like a text book and is without question geared to adults who are serious about astronomy.

I do like that it gives plenty of practical advice about different telescopes, particularly the parts on using different lenses and barlow lenses. Some of the information we had already figured out by visiting various message boards for hobbyist astronomers, but this book gave great explanations that can be used to help our daughter improve on what she's been learning to do.

I do feel the book is a bit dry and can be intimidating to someone who is just starting out with astronomy. Overall, this is still a great book to have on hand as a reference. I'm pretty sure this book will be of more use to our daughter as she becomes a bit more seasoned with her star gazing hobby.
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