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Gary Seronik is an award-winning astronomy writer and speaker based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. An acknowledged expert on such diverse subjects as binocular astronomy, telescope making, and lunar observing, he is also an experienced reviewer of commercial astronomical equipment.
Gary is a contributing editor for the internationally acclaimed magazine Sky & Telescope and regular columnist for the superb Canadian publication SkyNews. In addition, he maintains an active web site at www.GarySeronik.com.
I received one of the first copies hot off the press and took it and a good pair of binoculars with me on a recent vacation with dark skies.
The book is compact (6 ½ x 9 inches), spiral bound, and the cover folds back flat for easy handling in the dark. Print quality is excellent, text is easy to read in the dark (with a red flashlight!) and illustrations are sharp and uncluttered. The pages are coated to prevent damage from dew and the book seems very durable for field work. Overall the quality and design is excellent.
There is an introduction followed by a concise illustrated chapter on choosing binoculars for astronomical viewing, which explains important topics such as understanding magnification and the size of the objective lenses for a pair of binoculars, field of view in the night sky, making binocular choices, other binocular features to look for, tests for sharpness and optical alignment, and special types like image-stabilized and big binoculars. This is a nice section for those who know little about binoculars to help guide them into making good choices and avoiding problems.
The main portion of the book is essentially a compilation of many of Mr. Seronik's excellent Binocular Highlights columns from Sky & Telescope magazine. There are 99 Highlights, presented 1 on each page, all visible from North America. They are roughly divided up into four sections based on which time of year the object is best seen - December to February, March to May, June to August, and September to November. Each page is divided in half - on the top half there is a close up section of a star chart which shows the highlight. A circular binocular "field of view" with a black background on the chart shows what to expect when you are viewing.Read more ›
It was late one night a couple of weeks ago. I had been observing Jupiter and four of her moons with my Orion 90 mm refractor for several minutes when I felt the stiffness arch up my back into my neck. I'm in good shape for a guy in his early 40s, but still I'm more prone to aches and pains than when I was a younger man. Then I brushed against the scope tube and spent several minutes finding the planet once more. The cost was sore muscles along my spine and that inevitable thought: "there has to be a better way to do astronomy than this!"
Anyone who has ever used a telescope for any length of time at all can relate to the story above. That is why I am so happy to have discovered this book.
Don't know anything about binoculars? No problem. Seronik tells you how they work and what kind are best for astronomy. In fact, I must caution you now to NOT BUY A PAIR OF BINOCULARS FOR ASTRONOMY UNTIL YOU READ THIS BOOK. The insights it gives kept me from making a very expensive mistake! I had a pair of Meade 12x50s stashed away in a closet which turned out to be more than up to the job.
After covering how binoculars work and what kind to use for stargazing, Seronik takes the reader on a tour of many splendid deep sky objects perfect for the binocular user. Believe it or not, there is plenty of stuff up there that looks incredible when seen through their wide field of view and low magnification.
This book is user friendly from cover to cover. It's not padded with needless fluff or technical details incomprehensible to the average person. However, it is written in an engaging, friendly style that makes it a delight to read.
All in all I am very satisfied with this book and recommend it enthusiastically to everyone interested in stargazing.
I have long had an interest in the stars. However, my interst was not strong enough to want to get buried in a telescope. The careful observing and scientific mindset of amature astronomers was just not working for me.
I suppose that I was more interested in the romance of the stars rather than the science they represent. I enjoy learing the constellations.
This book was a break-through for me. I already owned a good pair of binoculars, so one I had this book I was set.
The information is presented in a way a more causal observer can appreciate. In addition, it provides details a more experienced person will appreciate.
On the first two trips out with this book, I observed more than I ever imagined. As the seasons change, I will learn to see even more.
If you are a hard core astronomer, this books is probably too simple. If you want to simply look at the stars unaided, it is probably too deep. If you are like me, and fall between those categories, the book will serve you well.
The book is well printed, seems to deal with dew easily and is ring bound for easy use.
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Although the book is aimed at binocular observers, it also makes a nice, portable "best of the sky" guide for people with small telescopes or anyone just starting out with a telescope. It's particularly attractive for those of us who like to take a telescope when we travel. Travel telescopes are usually small, and often we're using them to show the wonders of the sky to interested friends, relatives, or fellow travelers. That means that most of the time we're going to be looking at the best and brightest celestial objects, and the 99 chosen here are a great start for experienced observers and probably all that newcomers will need for a while. The book folds flat and has just one or two objects per page so it's easy to use and not at all intimidating or overwhelming. I like it better as a telescopic observing guide than many of the guides written just for telescope users.
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