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A Field Guide to Stars and Planets (Peterson Field Guides) 4th,Updated Edition

48 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 004-6442934312
ISBN-10: 0395934311
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Editorial Reviews


"Brimming with dazzling celestial photographs and timely astronomical information, the newly revised Peterson Field Guide to the Stars and Planets is a must-have resource for any amateur stargazer." Country Living Gardener

"An excellent introduction to astronomy for beginners and a field guide for experts." St. Louis Post-Dispatch

About the Author

Jay M. Pasachoff is the Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy and the Chair of the Astronomy Department at Williams College. He is the author of the Peterson Field Guide to Stars and Planets, as well as numerous textbooks and trade books on astronomy, weather, and more.

Roger Tory Peterson, one of the world's greatest naturalists, received every major award for ornithology, natural science, and conservation as well as numerous honorary degrees, medals, and citations, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Peterson Identification System has been called the greatest invention since binoculars. These editions include updated material by Michael O'Brien, Paul Lehman, Bill Thompson III, Michael DiGiorgio, Larry Rosche, and Jeffrey A. Gordon.

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Product Details

  • Series: Peterson Field Guides
  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 4th,Updated edition (November 23, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395934311
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395934319
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 1.2 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #197,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Colin Banfield on September 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
This review is for the softcover version. I feel almost bad to give this great guide 3 stars. The book contains a lot of very good information - more so than many books several times larger. As such, it's an excellent reference for beginner and more advanced user alike. However, the book fails miserably for field use, which, ironically, it is supposed to be designed for.
The cover frays and acquires "dog-ears" in a relatively short time of field use. In contrast, the Audubon field guides use a much more resilient plastic softcover. The pages smude easily from finger oils - remember, this is a guide you should be able to use for 8 years or so (until the next edition) so these are unacceptable shortcomings IMHO. By far the biggest gripe I have with this book, however, is the the choice of red to identify galaxies, star clusters etc in the atlas charts. These marks completely disappear under red light(!!!), making the charts useless for finding deep sky objects in the field. Finally, how are you supposed to operate equipment and keep the book open? Because it lacks spiral binding, the only way to use it hands-off is to put a weight on the page you're referencing.
If you're looking for a great reference to use at home, this guide is hard to beat - in fact, I highly recommend it. However, look elsewhere for more useful star charts with deep sky objects to use in the field.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Gavin Scott on May 6, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If I had to choose a small number of books to take with me into exile on some deserted island somewhere, this would definitely be one of them (and offhand I'm not sure I can name any others).
An entire astronomy library packed into a single portable field guide, Jay Pasachoff's entry in the Peterson Field Guide series is a delightful introduction to, and reference for, the universe revealed in the night sky.
If you have any interest in astronomy at all, you can always find something in here to look at or just to sit and ponder about.
Besides the obvious things like monthly star charts for both northern and southern hemispheres, the book contains a complete 52 chart atlas of the sky put together by Wil Tirion with notes on objects in each chart, clever finder charts and tables for the planets for a ten year period, history and lore of the naming of the constallations, many, many photographs of astronomical objects taken by Hubble and other telescopes, an atlas of the moon, and many enlightening charts and tables of things like details of the brightest/nearest stars, the planets and their moons, and so on.
There's a section on each of the planets, and of course lots of coverage of the sun and eclipses of the sun and moon.
It always surprises me that this book doesn't seem to get as much respect in astronomical circles as I think it deserves. While you can certainly fill a library with astronomical books and atlases that are better than this field guide in any one area, you will not do better than this book in stuffing all of that information together in one "to go" package.
An excellent gift for a child starting to get interested in science and the world at large.
I could go on, but you should just buy the book and see for yourself :-)
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Appelbaum on November 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
The new 4th edition of this field guide has been expanded by 100 pages, and the star maps are now in color. It has been updated, with new and better photos. A little more pricey than the previous edition, but the added and enhanced content makes it a tremendous value.
A terrific introduction to astronomy that deserves a place in every star-gazer's library.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Allen Smalling TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 5, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
and I wish I'd paid more attention to three-star reviews. The good news is that A FIELD GUIDE TO STARS AND PLANETS is a dynamo of facts, figures and photos and an amazing value at less than fifteen dollars. Just about everything you'd expect a beginning-to-established amateur astronomer to know, or have access to, is found here. But that's part of the problem.

This is a field guide in the Peterson's traditional trim size, 7.2 x 4.6 inches. I got the distinct impression, many times, that a really knockout book with great design and photography was dying to break free of the unfortunate standard field-guide format. In Peterson's more mainstream guides, photos of scarlet tanagers or coral snakes look quite good; in fact, they're a point of pride. In this book, with the same sized page, the crab nebula looks disappointingly dim and incomplete, as do many other inter-stellar objects.

Perhaps the disappointing quality of many photos kept the book's editors from including more of them, because you will also encounter in this book pages and pages devoted to such technical information as sidereal rotation time, or comprehensive sky charts for all latitudes, for all year. The tenor of STARS AND PLANETS is heroic but ultimately disenchanting, especially factoring in its unforgiving soft cover. Ironically, these hurdles are redoubled in practical use since "in the field" for the amateur astronomer generally means in the dark. Don't crack that spine! Very frustrating.

Don't get me wrong: Peterson's guides on the whole are top-notch and I don't mind a little line extention: twelve years ago they did a very credible job on a field guide of railroad locomotives using standardized line drawings and specs for each entry.
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