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on May 7, 2016

After returning to my old avocation of astronomy, and even purchasing a new 6" refractor with Goto, I find my most convenient observing station (not far from my front door) suffers from a lot of local lights. So being able to 'dial up' unseen objects from its Goto computerized catalog is a great asset. But one must have the fodder to feed the Goto! This is where Celestial Harvest by James Mullaney comes in. I even find it a great casual read from my arm chair.

The Celestial Harvest presents over 300 of the finest deep sky objects and binary stars selected after years of personal experience at the eyepiece. Being the brightest and the best, they are within striking distance of small to modest telescopes from 3" refractors to 10" reflectors. The profuse visual descriptions are taken from an army of observers, both contemporary and historical, with often vivid, if not exuberant descriptions from which to compare. Most include telescope size recommendations, often comparing the varied details observed from one aperture to another.

This IS of course a simple and practical catalog! There are no star charts or glitzy photos to distract the user. To the common eye, it reads like a phone book, but to an avid observer it is a treasure house of visual delicacies which, with a Goto computerized telescope, an observer can simply key in the object's Right Ascension and Declination to instantly locate the next astronomical jewel. One can spend hours investigating a single constellation or a dusk to dawn session touring the night sky.

The list includes many fine open and globular clusters, nebulae of all classes, delicate galaxies, and scores of stunning and challenging, multi-colored jewels of our galaxy - binary stars. The data listed includes object names or catalog number, constellation, positions for epoch 2000, object type, magnitude(s), separation(s) & position angle(s), object size, and a lengthy visual description. There is even lined space provided for your own written entries.

A sample description for NGC 6369 OPH: Little Ghost Nebula "Dim ring-shaped, fainter cousin of Lyra's famed Ring Nebula (M57)." "Fine sight in small scopes." "Rather faint annular nebula." "Perfect ring." "Easy to scare up...a miniature Ring exciting PH...pale blue hue" evident in 4-inch on dark night. "Beautiful ring-shaped planetary." "A perfect smoke ring." "Green." Best seen in 8-inch or larger under steady, transparent skies. D=3,800LY

Celestial Harvest works best with a good planisphere, handy but detailed star atlas. And, perhaps a pair of 50mm binoculars if you are star hopping instead of using a Goto equipped telescope. Whether a newbie or a seasoned amateur, James Mullaney's Celestial Harvest has something for everyone. It is the essential guide for the greatest show on Earth!

Recommended support tools:

A Miller Planisphere ($12.95) and a low level star atlas like the Edmund Mag 5 Star Altas ($16.98) are excellent references to navigate and learn the sky. The planishere is a necessity! I still use mine after 35 years.

Sky & Telescope's Pocket Sky Atlas by Roger W. Sinnott. More convenient than the larger format Tirion Sky Atlas 2000, but still beautifully detailed, spiral bound on quality card stock. $17.49:

Rigel Systems Skylite Mini astronomer's flashlight with both red and white LED lights with adjustable brightness. $21.95:

NOTE: Buy the bound edition and NOT the Kindle version. The Kindle is difficult to read and the illuminated screen will interfere with you night vision!

Steve Franks
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on October 27, 2015
The first two reviews of this book, while not intentionally misleading, would lead one to believe that there are star charts in the book.
I did not do the "look inside " feature because of the reviews. Observer alert!!!! There is not a star chart of any kind inside. Many
glorious descriptions of selected objects but you will have to access another source to find their location. Quite inconvenient cross
referencing two sources while holding a red flashlight, wearing gloves, and instead of just using the one book now you have to set up
a table to accommodate both books. Your observing session is one third as productive because of this. I am continually amazed at
how many of the star atlas's fail to consider the circumstances observers are using them under. Small faint print, cluttered tables, books
that won't lay flat etc. The author of this book should have the objects arranged on six or seven charts according to their grouping. On the page
opposite the chart a listing of the objects on the chart and maybe a one to four star rating system, and then a cross reference to the more detailed
description. Simple and convenient. As it stands now I am still looking for small scope star "charts" to use with my 22x100 binos'. Any suggestions?
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on March 5, 2015
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on July 21, 2014
Not for Kindle at all! The type was too small! I did buy it in physical form, though (because I like James Mullaney's other book {Celebrating the Universe}) and I am sure that it will be enjoyable when I get it in the mail.
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on May 23, 2014
Celestial Harvest is a treasure trove for those of us who prefer the portability and ease of use of small 'scopes, and who also live beneath a heavy light-polluted canopy. Too many "small 'scope" guidebooks serve up stargazing samplers that are just not accessible for those of us who don't have Takahashi or TeleVue multi-thousand dollar telescopes and look skyward from Mauna Kea. Or some similar ink-dark sky.

Unlike far too many stargazing books, Celestial Harvest does not try to impress us with page after page of Hubble-esque photos, depictions of a deep sky world we will never come close to actually seeing through our Orions or Celestrons; instead, Mr, Mullaney is a Real World celestial trail guide for mainly backyard observers with ordinary equipment looking up into ordinary skies. Look here, he says, and this is what you have a good chance of seeing.

Messiers, NGC objects, double stars. CH gives you a nicely varied menu.

Moreover, Celestial Harvest not only points me to objects I have a reasonable chance of actually seeing, but the extensive and varied notes for each object are just outstanding——providing some idea of what a given object actually LOOKS like, what kind of pattern(s) define its shape, and what size glass you need to catch it along with the ideal magnification. For those like me who have been at this only a few years and whose academic background is history and the humanities, and who rarely has anything even close to good seeing, I need these specifics. Along with The Pocket Sky Atlas, CH constitutes an absolutely essential resource for the unwashed.

If you are a beginner to intermediate stargazer, you NEED this book.

Note: I have the PAPERBACK copy and not the Kindle version.
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on December 30, 2012
the book arrived quickly, and the writing is superb! I'll have it with me at the telescope while observing the delights he points out to me.
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on April 17, 2011
When I hear that a friend or acquaintance has just bought their first small astronomical telescope, I immediately recommend this sweet little book. Mullaney's enthusiasm for the sheer joy of observing is contagious. Astronomy can also be overwhelming, and he does a fine job of sorting out the best objects for someone just getting started -- someone not "in Kindergarten," but more like in the third grade. What I mean is, now that I've seen M42, M31, and the Pleiades, what's next?
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on May 29, 2003
Mullaney does a fine job of sifting through thousands of deep-sky objects to select those most likely to impress users of small telescopes. His descriptions are enjoyable, if occasionally overly florid, with an annoying overuse of exclamation points. His bias for double stars is evident, but I have no real complaint about that. Doubles are pretty and charming and often underappreciated. Mullaney apparently composed the manuscript using some primitive word-processing software that forced him to include additional objects at the back of the book instead of in the main constellation listings.
Overall, the sincerity of the writing, plus the intelligence of the 300 or so objects selected, makes this perhaps the best available list of objects that goes beyond the Messier catalog (better than the spurious Caldwell list, for example).
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