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Atlas of the Messier Objects: Highlights of the Deep Sky Hardcover – October 27, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0521895545 ISBN-10: 0521895545 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 370 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (October 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521895545
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521895545
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 1.2 x 12.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #339,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


'I received your book and must say that it is absolutely beautiful! You have created an amazing review of the Messier objects. Congratulations on a breathtaking publication!' - Phil Harrington, author of Star Ware and Touring the Universe through Binoculars

'Ronald Stoyan's Atlas of the Messier Objects should be required reading for amateur astronomers. Its impressive content, textually and visually, makes it a definitive work on the catalog and its objects. Extensive discussions of the catalog's formulation, history, and meaning precede a stunning gallery of all the objects along with nearly exhaustive historical, astrophysical, and observational discussions for each object. Numerous high-quality photographs and eyepiece drawings accompany the text. This book should be on the shelf of every observer, and deserves wide distribution in the United States market.' - David Eicher, Editor-in-Chief, Astronomy

'Atlas of the Messier Objects is more comprehensive, detailed, and beautiful than any other book showcasing the objects cataloged by Charles Messier. The art of observing is practiced as much with the mind as with the eye, and this book gathers into one volume diverse aspects that both enrich the experience and serve as a valuable reference. No other book does such a masterful job of gathering all that is fascinating about the Messier objects and weaving it into a book that is both so enlightening and handsome.' - Susan French, author of Celestial Sampler: 60 Small-scope Tours for Starlit Nights

'Everything a book should be. Beautifully published on excellent paper and very comprehensive. Certainly the most comprehensive book on the Messier objects that has been written to date.' - Stewart Moore, Director, Deep Sky section, British Astronomical Association

"Not another book about Messier's catalog' you might think. This would be completely wrong as you have never seen one like this. Simply put, this is EXTREMELY complete! Why have you never seen a book like this? Well, imagine the result merging books such as The Messier Album from Mallas & Kreimer, The Messier Objects by O'Meara, Messier's Nebulae and Star Clusters by Glyn Jones. 'A glorious chaotic mess' would you argue? Certainly not. The authors have put all this together in good shape, with a very clear presentation in order to produce an innovative book, easy to read or just to browse." - Yann Pothier, Editor of French Deep Sky Observer's magazine Ciel Extreme

"The subtitle of this book is 'Highlights Of The Deep Sky', but it might as well be 'Everything you want to know about Messier and his catalogue' because it is amazingly comprehensive. The full-plate photographs are truly magnificent. There are also excellent drawings made by Stoyan ... this book is worth every penny--and more. There have been many Messier books, but in my view this is the best I have ever seen." - Sir Patrick Moore, Sky at Night Magazine

"It would probably be worth buying the book just for the pictures alone, but this masterful volume is a must for any astronomer. If this book doesn't make you want to get out there and observe the wonderful Messier objects then nothing will." - Mark Armstrong, Astronomy Now

"This atlas should be in the library of any astronomer, amateur or professional, and any library with scientific collections." - Mark A. Wilson, American Reference Books Annual

"There are several good books that cover Charles Messier's famous catalog of Deep Sky objects, but none are as beautiful or comprehensive as this spectacular volume from Cambridge University Press. ... Ronald Stoyan and his colleagues are to be congratulated for putting together a most beautiful and helpful volume on Messier and his catalog, one that all Deep Sky enthusiasts will wish to own, and which is unlikely to be surpassed for many years." - Nick Hewitt, Journal of the British Astronomical Association

"...a fresh perspective of the most popular catalog of astronomical targets in the sky ... All 110 targets are illustrated with beautiful color photographs taken by today's best European (mostly German) astrophotographers...." Sky and Telescope

"...a beautiful, welcome addition to any library ... Highly recommended." - CHOICE

"This large and beautifully reproduced volume includes colour pictures of all the Messier objects, primarily made by very professional amateur astronomers. It's interesting that eight of the first fifteen objects in the catalogue are globular clusters, magnificently shown here. In many cases Ronald Stoyan, the German observer/author of this book, has included his own drawings of the objects, made with a variety of telescopes but mostly with a 14-inch Newtonian reflector. These alone make a fascinating historical point: many of Stoyan's drawings of galaxies indeed reveal their spiral structure, which strongly implies that William Herschel could have anticipated Lord Rosse in discovering spiral structure if he had used his giant 40-ft reflector with its 48-inch speculum mirror to study the brighter nebulae in detail. The front matter in the book includes the most extensive biography of Messier, his catalogue, and his telescopes, as well as a translation of Messier's original descriptions of the objects. Included from Messier's log book is a wonderful colour drawing of a figure observing with a reflecting telescope, presumably a self portrait with the 8-inch reflector of the Royal Observatory." - Journal for the History of Astronomy

"The images illustrating the objects are some of the best I have seen. This book could easily have become a collection of "eye candy" if the accompanying text had not been so well written and organized. The most obvious illustrations are the astrophotos that dominate each entry. A few of these are from the Hubble Space Telescope or professional observatories, but the overwhelming majority have been taken by amateur astronomers, making the book a showcase for the work of astro imagers. Some of these images are also reproduced in an inverted (black and white) format to better illustrate certain structures and features of their subjects. Double and variable stars in clusters, as well as other objects likely to be found in the field of view, are labeled for easy location by observers. Where these are numerous, a table lists them for easy reference. In addition to these stunningly beautiful illustrations are sketches made by the principle author at the eyepiece of a 14" reflector, and these illustrations give the reader a clear idea of the differences between images and the eyepiece experience. Illustration of the book goes a step farther by reproducing many sketches made during historic observations by the likes of Lord Rosse and John Herschel. ... It's a visual treat into the bargain, adding a dimension of sheer enjoyment usually lacking in such books. Atlas of the Messier Objects has quickly become an important reference that effectively supplements the existing material in my Messier library. It is, indeed, worthy of a place on the over-burdened bookshelf." - Cloudy Nights

Book Description

This stunning atlas presents a complete account of each of the 110 Messier objects, with information on their history, astrophysical significance, and detailed observational descriptions. Illustrated with the finest color astrophotos, historical sketches and deep sky drawings - this is a must-have reference for observers of all ages and abilities!

Customer Reviews

It is coffee table size!
This is a great book with great photos and drawings on Messiers objects.
I HIGHLY recommend this book to Beginners or Professionals.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By dad_of_tutu on November 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
How comprehensive?
*4 catalogs from Hevelius, De Cheseaux, Lacaille, Bode and, mini-bios of many famed observers before, at and after Messier's time, so how they influenced Messier, how Messier's catalog evolved into what we see today. Glad to learn European point of view(this book was originally published in German, 2006).
*A complete copy of Messier's catalog(in English).
*Historical observations of each object.
*Stoyan gave his descriptions on each object through an array of optical aids-a 10x50, a 4.7-inch refractor and 14-inch, 20-inch reflectors, when appropriate naked-eye, 8x30, 20x100...
*Astrophysical data is the latest; findings from Chinese, Japanese, Korean astronomers are mentioned.

How beautiful?
*Charts? Some recall the charts in The Night Sky Observer's Guide, but in color!
*Pictures? Most are 30min. to 1 hour exposures(so beautiful some amateurs may think they are in the same league as NASA's) through some light buckets, taken by amateur astrophotographers while Hubble images are basically used to zoom in on particularly interesting spots.
*Drawings? Imagine yourself watching 7 drawings done by 8 19th-century observers and 4 by Stoyan(4.7-inch refractor, 14-inch Newtonian, 20-inch Cassegrain) just on Orion Nebula!

Practical info?
*Detailed info about all pictures is given-aperture, used focal length, camera, exposure time, site...; with drawings, aperture, magnification, date, site...
*Recommendations for visual observation like filters; for photography, focal lengths.
*Messier Marathon.

Lackluster objects like M40 get the least-one full-page treatment(because this book is bigger, still much space is left for the text) while Orion Nebula gets 11 pages, Andromeda Galaxy gets 9, Ring Nebula gets 8, Pleiades gets 7...
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By P. Beach on April 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I received this book today and it's everything the hype says it is. Hard-cover, beautiful, and complete. Everything is here, the comprehensive history, Messier's own notes, drawings and stunning pictures, all the basic facts about each object, a map of the full sky showing the location of all 110 objects, etc, etc. When I saw the photos of Messier's observatory at Hotel de Cluny in Paris, I realised with some dismay that I had been there without realising it's connection to Messier (It's now the Museum of the Middle Ages)! The book contains much more than just information about the 110 objects. For example the diagrams on the spectral types of stars and stellar evolution are superb. This book is so complete, if you want just one book on the Messier objects this is it. Very strongly recommended.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ivan W. Ong on January 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Finding all 110 of the Messier objects has long been a rite of passage for generations of amateur astronomers. I remember taking 6 months to finish the list with a 4" refractor when I was just starting out- nothing could compare with the excitement of each discovery and my notebook with sketches and notes is still one of my treasured items.

This book is a monumental achievement in many ways. The level of scholarship is very high. The author clearly knows his stuff and has done his research thoroughly. I enjoyed in particular reading about Charles Messier's life and the historical context in which he lived his life and carried out his discoveries. Also insightful were mention of his many contemporaries and peers.

The separate listings of Messier objects is very well organized- I especially like the well-written "Astrophysics" sections that explain in sufficient detail each object. The author always informs, and never talks over or down at you. It is a rare ability and one that works well for a book that is targeted towards a wide audience.

The photos and sketches are well done. Kind of a nice synthesis of Kenneth Glyn Jones' and O'Meara's individually superb books on the Messier objects. The author keeps focus pretty much on the objects, and avoids tangents into surrounding IC and NGC objects.

All in all, a very well produced book and one definitely for my collection.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Busy Bee on November 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Few books come along and address a subject that has been previously extensively covered and manage to make an impression; well this is on of them. If you have never heard of the "Messier Objects", if you are getting to know the "Messier Objects", or you have had enough of them and accumulated a few books on the subject, is this book for you? Well, Absolutely YES!

Experience the Messier Objects in whole new way, starting with the history of "Charles Messier" the comet hunter [if I may call him that], old Paris, historical publications from the archives, and of course the 110 Messier Objects. The book reads like a little adventure of astronomical history which is quiet enjoyable and refreshing, its not a mere list and co-ordinates but a passion building exercise that gets you eager to read about each fascinating object and go find it for your self and relive the moment. Nothing feels as wonderful and exhilarating than being able to relive history and view it with you own eye(s) or telescope.

How about the objects? Each "Messier Object" gets it moment of glory with little "Bullet Notes" about its Coordinates, Constellation Magnitude and few others; but then comes the "History", "Astrophysics" and "Observation" and some nice drawing of how the object visually looks and a Good Quality Image.

So is this the ultimate book? There is still space for improvement, let take for example my favourite object "M16 - Eagle Nebula", I would expect a Map showing the Constellation Serpents with the key stars and Co-ordinates and the location of the Eagle Nebula highlighted clearly. The included map is too small and may not be practical for locating objects, but rather to give you a broad idea where its located.
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Atlas of the Messier Objects: Highlights of the Deep Sky
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