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on June 15, 2000
Wil Tirion is one of the big names in celestial chart making, and this Atlas makes it easy to see why. With stars plotted down to 8th magnitude and just about every deep sky object withing the grasp of a typical amateur telescope, the Sky Atlas will get you through years of deep-sky observing. However, if you have a large telescope (greater than 12 inches or so) or are a more seasoned amateur, you might want to invest in the more detailed Uranometria 2000. Sky Atlas 2000 comes with a clear plastic grid overlay for getting exact coordinates (I wish it were made out of a more durable plastic - mine has grown heavily scotch taped with use). I would recommend coating the pages of the altas with a waterproof map sealant (sold in marine and backpacking stores). Otherwise, frequent soakings by dew will hasten wear and tear on the charts.
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on June 12, 2000
I just bought Sky Atlas 2000.0 Deluxe from amazon.com and wanted to write a review to help other buyers in making the right decision. I couldn't decide between the Spiral bound edition($49.95) or the Deluxe (paperback) edition ($39.95). Both of these sound like one and the same version (except for the names that amazon.com gives them), and I know that Sky Publishing/Cambridge University Press sells only one Deluxe non-laminated version. But amazon.com sells these as two different items at two different prices. Still confused, but rather confident, I bought the Deluxe version ($39.95), and it IS the Deluxe version that is sold elsewhere. In other words, DON'T BUY THE $50 VERSION until you contact amazon.com to see if there is a difference between the two! As far as I know, (and I could be wrong) it is the exact same as the paperback (Deluxe) version, so don't waste your money needlessly! It is color coded with 8.2mm per degree, a maroon colored cover, and spiral-bound foldout charts. I am absolutely thrilled with it, I am amazed at its quality, it's sure to be an invaluable guide for years to come. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! One more note, if you are considering the deluxe laminated version, you should think twice, because you could buy the regular deluxe version and the laminated desk version for the same price (apx $120) as the laminated deluxe! Another option (this is what I've done) is to buy a piece of clear plexigass to cover your charts when outside. This will keep the dew off the front of your charts. And when observing, flip the dew resistant cover over the plexiglass to keep the other charts dry. This is a cheap way of protecting your charts from dew without having them laminated. 6/12/00
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on November 3, 2000
Will Tirion has certainly become our time's best-known and best-selling stellar cartographer. The SkyAtlas 2000 is a work of art, as well as a wonderfully useful tool. I have used it for over a year (the color version) with great enjoyment with both 8x56 binoculars and a 4 inch refractor. As the magnitude limits of my binoculars approach 8 to 8.5 (depending on "seeing" and darkness conditions,) this is a perfect binocular observing tool--it plots stars to magnitude 8.5. I have wished on several occasions that the atlas plotted stars to magnitude 9 or 9.5, so that finding a few of the deep sky objects through the telescope might be easier (especially on higher power and tighter field of view.) There are several computer planetarium programs that accomplish this, allowing custom printable field maps for use at the telescope. Nevertheless, I have found the beauty of the atlas second to none, and simply enjoy scanning its pages with awe--this book was as much a labor of love as a work of accuracy! Hat's off to Tirion and Sinnott for presenting amateur astronomers with a beautiful, accurate, and useful work.
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on April 26, 2001
An atlas is intended as a reference rather than a tutorial device. As such, an atlas is not something one can "learn astronomy" from, or use to gather information about celestial objects. An atlas is quite simply a celestial road map. A tool you can use to plan or plot your way around the night sky. And a good one is a vitally important tool for any serious astronomer - amateur or professional.
There are a few modest atlases available, which are ideally suited for the novice and the beginner. Noteworthy are The Cambridge Star Atlas; The Constellation Guidebook; and The Observer's Sky Atlas. Instructions on how to use them, plus a glossary or lexicon and some rudimentary coaching, (i.e.: - commentary on celestial coordinates and proper motion) distinguish these as "quick references", which are easier for the beginner to grasp, and are handy for advanced users because of their small size and portability.
However, for the serious amateur with a small or medium telescope, the Sky Atlas 2000.0 is absolutely unrivaled as a field reference. In fact, we find it so remarkable, that we've given it "Honorable Mention" status on the Belmont Society's Required Reading list for the amateur astronomer.
We prefer the Deluxe Version, with black stars on a white background. Deep sky objects are color coded, with red ellipses representing galaxies as they appear to our line of sight. The Milky Way dominance is portrayed in varying shades of blue. The handsome "leather-look" burgundy cover is spiral bound - a very stalwart arrangement. The pages are well suited for pencil notes, (ours are chock full) for things like the personal endorsement of a certain eyepiece or filter for a particular object or area. One member notes film types and exposure times. The paper is not "dew proof", but if allowed to dry properly, will remain like new.
All 26 charts (plus appendices) are fold-outs in left-to-right format. We appreciate the Chart Key (overall sky map) being on the last page, as it allows any selected chart to overlay it, and thus is more handy for back-and-forth maneuvers. The appendices render detailed (closer) views of some popular items or areas (i.e.: - central Orion and the Pleiades).
A transparent overlay is provided for measuring coordinates, adding new coordinates, or plotting comets and asteroids. Included on the overlay is the correctly sized bulls-eye pattern of a Telrad finder. Very handy at times.
The limiting magnitude of 8.5 makes it ideally suited to medium aperture telescopes, and 8X50 binoculars. That's not to say it isn't appropriate for larger instruments. On the contrary, users of bigger "light buckets" will benefit just as well. The larger apertures will simply pick up more field stars of fainter magnitudes.
The Sky Atlas 2000.0 Deluxe Version is a no-nonsense tool, and a superb addition to any amateur's library. If you can look at the night sky and identify a few constellations, and if you can successfully find some objects within them, then you are ready for such a tool. And if you're an advanced amateur, with a keen ability to grab objects at will, or to star-hop to them with confidence, then this atlas is a MUST, no matter what size aperture you have.
Highly recommended.
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on March 24, 2000
I have now owned this book for about six months. I would call it my definitive desk chart reference. Although it is quite large and "too nice" a set of charts to take outside at night, I repeatedly find myself coming back inside at night to compare these charts to the objects visible in my 6x30 finder and the eyepiece. It has assisted me in star-hopping more than any other book I have. The scale is very large (Leo fills a full 8 1/2 x 11 copy I've made to write all over and keep in my field binder). This allows easy measurement of coordinates using the supplied transparent overlay. For the observer who has a good understanding of the celestial coordinate system, this provides the means to use these charts to establish a jumping off point hen star-hopping just won't work to find those deep space objects that are not quite near enough to a bright star for a simple turn of the dial. The plotted objects in these charts are so accurate that I have used the transparency to measure the needed turn of RA and Dec from a star to an object in a void area of the sky, and then gone right back outside and found the object. A good handbook is a necessary companion to get the detail on doubles, clusters, nebula and galaxies. But for a set of charts that will show you where to find objects, this atlas rates right up there with the best.
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on August 11, 2006
For years the Sky Atlas 2000.0 has been the most popular atlas step up from a 6th magnitude atlas. The 8th magnitude limit is deep enough to enable users to find Neptune and the brighter asteroids. The large charts, while they can be a bit awkward to handle, are great to view, as they show wide swaths of sky.

The Second Edition brought some significant improvements: a useful step up to magnitude 8.5, galaxy shapes which show size and orientation, better representation of star magnitude, detailed charts of the Orion region and Virgo Galaxy Cluster. If you are debating between a used First Edition and a new Second Edition, get the Second; it's worth the extra money.

A few shortcomings remain. The charts are arranged in ascending order of right ascension. This presents problems with editions which are bound on the left side. When users reach the right edge of the chart, they have to stifle the instinct to continue right to the next page, force themselves to reverse direction, and turn--of all places--to the previous page instead. The same with the left edge. Charts should be ordered in descending RA like Uranometria or Millennium. Ordering by ascending RA is a pointless tradition.

Some of the versions are bound at the top, which solves the problem of the chart sequence--and makes the book less floppy to handle--but makes it harder to search for charts. Since the chart number is at the top right, the user cannot see what page they have their fingers on until the book is completely open.

The pages of the laminated versions are very sturdy for field use but hard to grasp and separate, especially when moist with dew. This and the previous problem could be solved by adding numbered, graspable tabs to the bottom of each chart.

A badly-needed improvement to the atlas came in a subsequent printing of the second edition: around the edges of each chart are noted the numbers of the charts which adjoin it. This greatly simplifies navigation through the atlas. It would be good to take this measure a step further and, on each chart, mark adjacent chart borders as well to save guesswork as to where each one ends and the next begins.

The many virtues of this atlas have been amply documented by other reviewers. The space I have spent on the shortcomings is simply an attempt to round out the picture. The many improvements already made to this work speak well of the publisher's commitment to an excellent atlas. The Sky 2000.0 is now only a couple steps short.

So which atlas to choose for your observations? I would completely ignore the 6th magnitude atlases on the market. For a beginning to intermediate observer, the magnitude 7.6 Pocket Sky Atlas is very well designed and affordable. For intermediate observing, the Sky Atlas 2000.0 is an excellent choice. For advanced observers who frequently go deep, I would suggest skipping the Sky Atlas and bringing both the Pocket and the Millennium along on outings.
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on June 27, 2001
Sky Map 2000 Deluxe is beautifuly done and an awesome resource. I have a technique to save my Sky Map from abuse in the field. To get the most out of your Sky Atlas, scan in those sections of the Sky Map that contain the objects you are looking for, onto your computer. You can print out the scans and take them into the field at night to hunt down those faint fuzzies. You can even use a graphics program to create white stars on a black background, blow up areas, and type in notes onto the scans. You don't need the whole Sky Map out in the field with you. This will save wear and tear on your Sky Map 2000 Deluxe.
jim mueller
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on January 29, 2001
Make no mistake, this is not a "star hopper's" atlas for the faint DSOs. It doesn't have the scale or magnitude limit of the Millenium Star Atlas for example. But for a Mag 8.5 atlas it's highly portable and very well organized. The scale is large enough to easily find the brighter objects (e.g. Messier). Double stars are accurately identified with Hipparcos satellite data. The ideal star atlas for serious beginners. Even experienced amateurs should own a copy, because for its size it's perfect!
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on February 26, 2007
The unlaminated deluxe is great, easy to mark btw, but the laminated deluxe is simply fabulous. The size(21 by 16 inches, maps are not folded), the top-binding make the laminated deluxe much less clumsy to handle and the spiral-binding really makes sense. Also the chart key is in the front. Make sure you take a look at both before making your purchase.
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on October 31, 2002
Been through several others - this is the definitive one.
The black background white stars are perfect for field usage. I hold my flace a suitable distance to make it the same scale as the sky. It actually works. If you dim your light (or squint your eyes), the lower magnitude stars disappear - instant recognition of what you can see through your finder.
It includes overlays for a Telrad (heads up bullseye 1x finder). Other overlays include co-ordinates to use with your setting circles (or DSC style counters/readouts, etc).
This is a must have, no matter what scope you use. I use this with my Meade LX90. Even if your scope is computer controlled (like my LX90), you will want and need a good star chart.
Believe it or not, this star chart is so good it inspired my wife, using only a pair of 16x50 binoculars.
The lamination is important. Nothing worse than the inevitable bug smears on a star chart. You can sponge these off.
Combined with a decent book like the Sky Atlas Companion you are armed for year round viewing. They are so beautiful and complete, on a cloudy night you can enjoy reading them and preparing a night's journey for clear skies.
Get this one - you will never regret it.
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