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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars

on 6 March 2012
I was surprised by this book. A UK-based author, using Patrick Moore's name to add kudos. So you'd expect plenty of UK or at least EU-based stuff, right? Well, what you get is essentially a collection of reviews on mainly telescopes made - and in most cases only available from - the US. Seeing as you can get a very good British or Chinese Dobsonian here in the UK for very reasonable amounts, it escapes me why anyone would want to read about a US-made Dobsonian that will cost you a huge amount in export duty to acquire. That, plus the propensity of US telescopes to be so large as to be utterly impractical for the average amateur.

The book certainly has lots of useful information, but yet completely skips obvious things a newcomer wants to know about, like the best way to clean the mirrors of your Dobsonian, for example.

Is it worth getting? Not unless you really want to import a telescope from the US, because it's a text squarely aimed at an american audience, with non-US readers considered, it seems, as a very late afterthought.
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on 4 October 2011
The Telescope market is vast, with a number of popular brands producing 3 main types of telescope, each of which can be further broken down into subtypes and sizes. Cost can be equally confusing with scopes ranging from hundreds to thousands of pounds (GBP). It is little wonder then that so many people buy a scope that is unsuited to their needs. What is required is some pre-acquisition research. If you are considering purchasing a Dobsonian telescope, commonly shortened to `Dob', or if you are unsure which telescope type to buy, the small outlay on this book would be a very wise investment.

`Choosing and Using a Dobsonian Telescope' is split into 2 sections, Part One deals with choosing which Dob is most likely to satisfy your requirements, Part 2 progresses to using your Dob once you have taken ownership. The first chapter gives a brief insight into the life of John Dobson, the man who started the Dobsonian revolution in 1960's California. Dobson was instrumental in bringing large aperture telescopes to the masses in a simple and inexpensive form.

Dobsonian telescopes, at their most basic, are Newtonian Reflectors mounted on `Lazy Susan' cradles. Chapter 2 takes the reader through the Newtonian telescope; the components, tube design and how mirrors affect image quality then pauses to reflect on the positives and negatives of this type of telescope. The remainder of part one, chapter's 3 to 8 catalogue the best instruments currently available, each chapter dealing with increasingly larger apertures, from mini 3 inch Dobs to 30 inch monsters. In each aperture class the main contenders are discussed and their assets and drawbacks aired. Photographs are used to enhance descriptions and owner evaluations are included for specific scopes which add an extra level of authority to an already detailed and comprehensive guide.

Two chapters, 5 and 7, deviate from the increasing aperture format in that they focus on Dobs that are specifically designed for planetary observing or are difficult to fit into other chapters because the mounting design is significantly different. In this way the author has successfully managed to compare apples with apples and has left the oranges, happily uncomplicated, in other baskets.

Part 2 of the book starts with an excellent chapter on accessorizing your Dob. Just about everything you could or should have as an optional extra is discussed, again in comprehensive detail. Accessories considered include image correctors, eyepieces, filters, dew prevention, tracking devices and computer control. Accessories are fully explained and pretty much leave no stone unturned.

Chapter 10 covers maintaining your Dob and getting the most from the optics. Subjects include collimating the optical train to ensure images are as sharp and as focused as possible, mirror cleaning and a nice piece on testing your telescope from an optical standpoint which will have you either pulling your hair out or grinning from ear to ear depending on your test results.

Chapter 11 goes on to provide hints and tips on sketching or imaging your observations and gives examples of what can be achieved with patience and a little experience. The book closes with a look into the future of the Dobsonian movement and gives a brief account of a number of projects that look destined to expand Dobson's revolution even further.

In summary, if you are in the market for a Dobsonian Telescope this book is an absolute must. If, after reading, you have failed to make a decision on what or what not to buy, the chances are you never will. Everything is here for you to make that informed judgment before parting with your hard earned money. If, like me, you are not currently considering joining Dobson's revolution or are already a proud owner then this book is still a really enjoyable, interesting read.

I will finish by quoting the author in his poetic salute to a great man who literally brought a Universe into the backyards (and budgets) of thousands, "As these words are written, John Dobson is just ending his 96th trip around the Sun...we'd like to wish John Dobson many more years of glorious existence."

Paul Rumsby
For Best Astronomy Books
2nd October 2011
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on 10 November 2013
Choosing and Using a Dobsonian Telescope
Neil English. Published by Springer (Kindle edition)

The reason for buying this book are that I am considering buying a Dob’ sometime in the next 12 months and wanted to prepare for this and understand more about these types of telescopes.

Recently I bought the Springer edition book on eye pieces for the same reason and it certainly helped when I bought some more up market EP’s.

Even the Kindle editions of these books are not particularly cheap but as I live overseas I get them more or less instantly and do not pay postage which would add another £15-20 to China.

I have not seen the hard copy edition of this book.

The book is well presented and each chapter covers a different aspect from the history of the Dob’s to what accessories that might or should be considered along with the purchase of the Dob’ itself.

There is an excellent technical section on the design and manufacture of the mirrors, Strehl numbers, F ratios and how they can work for or against you and the magnifications you intend to use.

A large part of the book is dedicated to the products from various Dob’ manufacturers and works up from the small apertures to the 10 – 12’’ and beyond, plus a section on the custom design and massive OTA’s. The author has also taken time to include user reviews by people who have bought and used the various designs. This was useful.

All in all a very good book and one I will re-read over the next months. The Kindle edition is semi searchable (I am reading it on a Samsung Galaxy 10.1) and all the images are present, however some of the photos, images of Dob’s in the dark in a garden do not really work. More care could have been taken.

Another annoyance for me was that each chapter begins with and abstract which then immediately repeats itself, so more care could have been taken in editing.

Value for money: 8/10
Relevance: 9/10
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on 9 October 2011
An excellent book for someone who is planning to buy a telescope but does not have a lot of experience with amateur astronomy. It gives advice on why you might want to buy a Dobsonian 'scope (as opposed to a refractor or a Newtonian) along with advice about choosing the right 'scope for you. I read this book and then bought a 'scope and I was very pleased by the entire process.
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on 4 September 2011
A good read for anyone considering buying a dobsonian telescope or considering making one. Gives you a short history of the idea and the develoment of the rocker box alt-azimuth mount. Problems relating to photography with the mount and ways of using a dobsonian for astro photography. The dobsonian concept is so simple and that makes it a winner with star hoppers like myself. Low tech and very practical for star gazing and marvellous for grab and go large telescopes. There are tips and advice regarding the different size of dobsonian telescope, different types of construction of the OTA and mirrors. A must for all dobsonian beginners!
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on 16 February 2016
Was looking at buying a dob & this book didn't disappoint in any way. Gives you very detailed information on all the easily available models so you can make the right informed decision on which size, style or brand is best for you & the circumstances you wish to use it in. Took all the stress & complication out of purchasing. Buying the wrong telescope can be a costly mistake & huge disappointment. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
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on 7 June 2014
I am well pleased with Choosing & Using Dobsonian Telescope because it is well up to date. Would recommend to anyone interested in astronomy.
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