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Norton's Star Atlas and Reference Handbook: And Reference Handbook, 20th Edition Hardcover – October 7, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0131451643 ISBN-10: 0131451642 Edition: 20th
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Hardcover, October 7, 2003
$19.95 $7.42

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Norton's Star Atlas is the most famous astronomical reference in the world, having guided thousands of professional and amateur stargazers in their search of the night skies. The 1998 edition is completely revised and expanded, with maps drawn to standard epoch 2000.0, using computer techniques to achieve unprecedented accuracy. You'll find every object visible to the naked eye, as well as star clusters, galaxies, and other celestial objects. Norton's also includes indispensable observation hints and technical explanations, with pointers to other information sources. Whether you're using a telescope, binoculars, or just your eyes, Norton's is your guide to what's up there. --Therese Littleton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Now in its 20th edition (the last was published in 1998 by Addison-Wesley), this guide to the stars has been helpfully updated and beautifully redesigned with new data tables and sections on the recently developed computer-controlled telescopes and CCD imaging. In his informative and engaging preface, Ridpath, editor of the Oxford Dictionary of Astronomy, narrates the history of the book and explains its charts. The book opens with a chapter entitled "Position and Time," which clearly explains such physical concepts such as "The Celestial Sphere" and "Daily Rotation." The chapter "Stars, Nebulae and Galaxies" offers tables of constellations with the names, abbreviations, area and size of each. For moon lovers there is a four-page spread that clearly outlines the moon's craters; for stargazers, the highlight comes at the end of the book: 18 sky charts.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton; 20 edition (October 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0131451642
  • ISBN-13: 978-0131451643
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 1 x 11.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #571,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 57 people found the following review helpful By G. Smith on May 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The content of this atlas is superb. Having started with a 13th edition in 1959, I have learned to love the layout of the charts and in this edition they show up beautifully under red lght. The reference notes in the 20th edition are still have the same idiosyncratic style as the old edition, even though the content has been completely changed to reflect the advances in astronomy over 50 years. It is a delight to browse through the reference notes and use the atlas when observing. Now for the bad news. You shouldn't really use it, except as a coffee table exhibit. My 13th edition is still in good condition after extensive use, but after less than a year of not very robust use, the 20th has now cracked at the spine and pages have started coming out. It astounds me that the publishers can invest so much effort in producing a product with such high quality content and then proceed to use an inferior binding. Star altases have to be taken into the field and roughed up a bit and get a little damp with dew. If they can't handle this, there is no point in buying them.
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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Ross Sackett on December 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In a previous review I expressed disappointment that a printing error seriously marred the usefulness of the latest edition of this updated classic. Well, the publisher tracked me down and sent a copy of the second printing. I am delighted to report that all the errors have been fixed and this new edition is a wonderful addition to any amateur astronomer's bookshelf (or eyepiece case). The text begins with excellent discussions of time and celestial coordinate systems (often confusing to beginner and long-timer alike). The new higher contrast moon maps are a major improvement over the washed-out maps in some previous editions. The heart of the atlas are the 16 starcharts, presented in the two-disk/six gore format familiar to lovers of the previous editions of the Norton's. These maps are more readable than ever, giving visual precidence to the stars themselves rather than labels, grid lines, etc. A thoughtful touch was to print the charts with a generous gutter margin so that stars near the celestial equator don't get trapped out of sight down in the spine of the book. As a matter of style I differ (perhaps) with another reviewer who would have liked to have seen color photographs--I guess I am nostalgic for the familiar "Norton's Green" and appreciate that editor Ridpath and designer Nix have continued the tradition in what is otherwise a major update of the classic. They are to be commended for this beautiful, useful, and authoritative book.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My first impression of this new edition is, "What a beautiful book" ! And indeed, a lot of improvements have been introduced, with substantial new materials.
One thing most people forgot to mention about this "old classic" is that it does not shy away from hard technical definitions, tables, and quite a few key equations, which a serious observer will eventually need. Yes, it does not contain color astrophoto plates to make the readers feel warm and fuzzy, but it does contain more key information in one place.
I wish the other more detailed atlases could consider adding information like these in Norton's.
After browsing the atlas chart pages for a few minutes, I started to worry a little bit, especially after seeing the other reviewers' comments about the Green labels/fonts on top of green Milky Way background color. Under normal lighting it is certainly readable, but one tends to think the old black labels might have worked better...
Well, worry NOT ! When viewed in the darkness of the night under red flashlights, the green labels on green milky way background actually turn out to be clearer ! This design for better field usage justifies the choice of two-color printing in this new edition.
It's the same price as the previous edition, but in hardcover and heavy duty paper. What more can one ask for ?
Definitely a must for any astronomy lover !
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Wesley Callihan on September 4, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Norton's has weaknesses which other reviewers have pointed out, to be sure, but a tremendous advantage is its layout of the star charts. Unlike most other charts out there, it shows huge swaths of the sky (60 degrees north to 60 degrees south, and well over 4 hours in RA) just as you see them when you're out in the dark trying to get oriented in Deep Heaven. Other charts show little chunks of sky--Norton's shows just what you see in a great wide band from well behind the zenith to further south than most of us will ever see.
And as someone else pointed out, the reference material interleaved between the sky charts, though not exhaustive, is very useful. I use Norton's constantly along with the Sky Atlas 2000 and Burnham's Celestial Handbook (and websites to update Burnham's data), and the combination of the three is perfect for most of my own observing. I have dozens of other books on my shelves but these are the ones I rely on.
For teaching astronomy I substitute the Audubon Field Guide to the Night Sky for the Sky Atlas and Burnham's, and my students love it because Norton's helps them find their way around the sky and the Field Guide description of the constellations tells them about what they see. If I were stranded on a desert island (hope, hope) and couldn't take my beloved and well-annotated Sky Atlas 2000 and Burnham's, I'd take Norton's and the Audubon Field Guide as a very good substitute. I always recommend Norton's, the Audubon Field Guide, and binoculars to beginners--the Sky Atlas 2000, Burnham's, and a telescope can come later (or sooner, for the passionate).
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