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Burnham's Celestial Handbook: An Observer's Guide to the Universe Beyond the Solar System, Vol. 1 Paperback – Large Print, June 1, 1978


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Burnham's Celestial Handbook: An Observer's Guide to the Universe Beyond the Solar System, Vol. 1 + Burnham's Celestial Handbook: An Observer's Guide to the Universe Beyond the Solar System, Vol. 2 + Burnham's Celestial Handbook: An Observer's Guide to the Universe Beyond the Solar System, Vol. 3
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Illustrated, Enlarge and Revised edition (June 1, 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 048623567X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486235677
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most useful to the observer are the countless orbital charts of double stars.
Christopher B. Hoehne
And what the Kindle lacks in greyscale rendering, it more than makes up for in convenience by making the handbooks super portable.
John
Back in the day, I read through all 3 volumes cover-to-cover, and it was a total education in astronomy.
ephemeris hack

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Bryan Embrey on March 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
Robert Burnham, Jr., spent twenty years at Lowell Observatory participating in a proper motion survey. During his tenure, he wrote this mammoth 3-volume work covering nearly every object visible in 2- to 12-inch telescopes. Each chapter, covering one constellation (both northern and southern hemispheres), begins with a detailed list of all stellar objects (double stars, variable stars, and deep sky objects). Then, he delves, sometimes rather deeply, into the more significant objects of that constellation, bringing together history, philosophy, and science to describe each one. His chapter on Sagittarius, for example, includes a 25-page section on the dense portion of the Milky Way blending current 1970s science with wonderful passages from Greek and Eastern philosophies, Native American legends, and the history of science. His prose for each chapter reflects the content he covers: lyrical prose when describing the "personal" aspects of observing objects, and readable, accessible language to delineate the science behind what we know about objects in the heavens. Moreover, each chapter has photographs of many of the stars and nebulae with telescopes and cameras ranging from a 5-inch astrograph to the 200-inch Hale telescope of Palomar Observatory.
Yes, the book is thirty years old and a little out-of-date. And, the typewritten font looks homely. But that's part of its charm. Burnham initially self-published this very personal book from his kitchen table. Literally. (Astronomy magazine published a very interesting "self-interview" by Burnham in March, 1982 which provides some background on his struggles to get it published.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By JC on July 3, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Burnham is a "given" among amateur astronomers. Until quite recently there was no work other than this that contained so much useful information in one place. It's also much more than just a reference. Despite his twenty years at Lowell Observatory, Burnham seems to have remained an "amateur" in the highest sense. His love of the night sky is plainly communicated not only in his entertaining digressions into myth and poetry but also by the obvious effort he put in before the days of PC's and word processors. I began by using these books to get information on objects I already had in mind, but very quickly, the inconspicuous and the usually overlooked began to take on a "real identity" when Burnham spoke about them. The sky became immeasurably richer. Burnham died destitute in 1993. I'm in his debt. He's that wise and experienced friend standing at my side sharing what he knows.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Shawn Moses on June 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
Robert Burnham's classic work could rightfully be called the Bible of American amateur astronomers (in Europe, the Webb Society handbooks probably earn that title). Volume 1 begins with an overview of various aspects of observational astronomy, focusing on the various cataloging and classification systems used to describe stars, nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies. The remainder of the three volumes consist of chapters for each constellation. Each chapter begins with a table that give a rundown of all objects of interest in that constellation. What follows are detailed descriptions of all notable objects in the constellation. Burnham did not confine himself to scientific facts - religion, archaeology, literature, and art all find their way into the text. Time has had a toll on the accuracy of the scientific facts that Burnham gives - many distances are wrong, and the discussions of some objects, particulaly remote or highly energetic ones, are seriously outdated. Still, these three books form the backbone of my astronomy library, and have grown battered with heavy use. They make for fascinating reading both beside the telescope and in the living room.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Christopher B. Hoehne on March 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
Robert Burnham (NOT the former Editor of Sky and Telescope, BTW) from the 50's to the late 60's spent many years working for an observatory on the tedious project of "blink comparing" countless photographic plates. In his spare time, he made and recorded observations of thousands of the most interesting objects in the deep sky. In addition he compiled a library of observations from other great observers, as well as star lore, scientific data, and personal refleciton. The result is a hodge-podge, somewhat out of date, collection that nonethless facinates.
Thousands of objects are cataloged by constellation, and hundreds are described in detail. When arriving at an object that seems to be the most familliar of its class (M13 for globular clusters, Sirius B for white dwarfs etc,.) Burham provides an essay on that class of objects (state of the art for its time, usually the 1970s)- often including very useful cross-references to other objects in that class.
Most useful to the observer are the countless orbital charts of double stars.
These books are an addictive way to pass the time. Most of the essays on featured objects are a few pages long, and can be read in the short "in between" moments that life is filled with. For two years I had one or more volumes of this series of three books in my bathroom, so as to pass the time a bit more productively learning about the sky. Needless to say, some of my bathroom trips grew a bit lengthy as I found myself plowing through Burnham's collection of personal observations, scientific data, and historical tales.
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