The Night Sky Observer's Guide - Autumn/Winter
The Night Sky Observer's Guide: Volume 1 - Autumn/Winter
Amateur astronomers today are exceptionally fortunate to be living in an era when high quality, and very large, optics are so affordable. In the first half of the 20th century the telescope deluxe for the amateur was the 6-inch refractor. However, such telescopes were so expensive that very few amateurs could afford them: the majority of stargazers had to content themselves with instruments in the 60mm range. Consequently, most observing guides published during that time emphasized double and multiple stars, with honorable mention for variable stars and planetary nebulae, objects which do well in long focal length refractors. Webb's 1858 Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes and Olcott's 1936 Field Book of the Skies were not superseded for so many decades simply because the average amateur instrument did not dramatically improve during the century after Webb. By the 1950s the mass-produced or homemade 6-inch parabolic mirror brought medium-sized optics into the price range of the average amateur, and with it the emission nebulae, open clusters, and galaxies that had been seen only as amorphous blobs-if seen at all-in small refractors. The 1948 Skalnate Pleso Atlas of the Heavens had already displaced the classic Norton's Star Atlas as the front line sky-chart for amateurs, but the observing guides badly needed rewriting. However, not until the 1970s and Burnham's Celestial Handbook was there an observing guide worthy of the 6-inch Newtonian reflector or of the more expensive, but increasingly popular, 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope.
By the early 80s another revolution in amateur optics was underway thanks to the inexpensive and easily-constructed mounting for large aperture Newtonian reflectors invented by John Dobson. With these big "light buckets" one can see scores of emission nebulae, hundreds of star clusters, and thousands of galaxies, and with details visible in virtually all of them.
But once again observing literature has failed to keep pace with the optics. The purpose of The Night Sky Observer's Guide is to close this widened gap by providing the owner of a medium or large aperture telescope with some idea of what to look for in such instruments-both what objects can be seen, and what details may be seen within these objects. The Night Sky Observer's Guide endeavors to assist the observer in the act of observing-in truly seeing what there is to see in each of the objects described in these pages-because the first step in astronomy is to actually look with attention at what is in the night sky. It began in 1987 when George Kepple and Glen Sanner, founded the Observers Guide, a bi-monthly magazine that set out to describe, with their readers as active participants, what could be seen with telescopes 8-inches and larger from mid-northern latitudes. Unlike an ordinary magazine it would have a finite life because each issue was devoted to one-or occasionally several smaller constellations. When completed in the early 1990s 64 constellations had been covered.
The object descriptions in The Night Sky Observer's Guide derive from those in the original Observer's Guide, but the editors have reviewed and edited each so it will conform to a set style. In those instances where inconsistencies arose the editors re-observed the object and rewrote the original Observer's Guide description. The Night Sky Observer's Guide also includes many photographs and maps that did not appear in the magazine. Though both the Observer's Guide and now The Night Sky Observer's Guide were aimed at amateurs especially interested in observing galaxies, nebulae and clusters, neither the magazine nor these volumes have neglected double and variable stars. Data tables for doubles and variables within a constellation are provided near its beginning, and these stars are labelled on maps and finder charts. Moreover, the most famous or visually impressive doubles and variables are given written descriptions similar to those for other deep-sky objects. Splitting doubles and plotting variable star light curves are not nearly as popular with amateurs today as they were thirty or forty years ago, so doubles and variables are not emphasized in these volumes. Nevertheless, double stars in particular offer the observer many fine, and even spectacular, sights in the eyepiece. The number of celestial objects of each type covered in the two seperate volumes of The Night Sky Observer's Guide are:
- Double Stars - 2,104
- Variable Stars - 433
- Galaxies - 2,030
- Planetary Nebulae - 127
- Bright Nebulae - 131
- Dark Nebulae - 69
- Open Clusters - 550
- Globular Clusters - 92
- Misc. (QSOs, Asterisms) - 5
- An amazing total of 5,541 objects!
Each chapter is devoted to a constellation. The first page is devoted to general comments about the constellation. The second page is a map of the constellation which faces a stellar data table which usually fills the entire page. The remaining pages of each chapter contain photographs, sketches and finding charts - and all of these pages include written descriptions of objects as seen through different sized instruments.
VOLUME 1: Autumn and Winter
Andromeda, Aquarius, Aries, Auriga,Camelopardalis, Cancer, Canis Major, Canis Minor, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Cetus, Columba, Eridanus, Fornax, Gemini, Lacerta, Lepus, Lynx, Monoceros, Orion, Pegasus, Perseus, Pisces, Piscis Austrinus, Puppis, Pyxis, Sculptor, Taurus, and Triangulum.
About the Authors...
George Robert Kepple and Glen Sanner have been life long amateur astronomers. George, until his retirement, worked in the steel industry as a grinding machine operator. Glen is a pharmacist. Until Glen's recent move to southern New Mexico both lived near each other in Pennsylvania.
The Night Sky Observer's Guide - Reviews
"ƒ???????????Birders have their bible in the form of Roger Tory Peterson's field guide. Bird illustrations, descriptive text, and maps comprise a guide used by birders for decades. Now apply that strategy to observational astronomy and you'll have The Night Sky Observer's Guideƒ???????????.the Observer's Guide's generous use of maps, drawing, and photos places it squarely in the realm of a bona fide field guideƒ???????????.an exemplary guide to the deep sky." -- Astronomy magazine
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