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The Planet Observer's Handbook Paperback – December 11, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0521789813 ISBN-10: 0521789818 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (December 11, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521789818
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521789813
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 7.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,643,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"...a refreshing book...There is a tremendous amount of useful information, and helpful advice for casual observers, and for those who are anxious to contribute information of real scientific value...Price has put a great deal of effort into the book, and it must be regarded as a definite success. It will be valuable both to the beginner and to the serious planetary observer. I strongly recommend it." New Scientist

"...offers much for the casual observer and 'armchair astronomer', aimed also at those who wish to contribute to our knowledge of the planets...many pearls of information...presented concisely with excellent illustrations...a synopsis of historical observations provides excellent foundations for planning observational programs...brief resumes of spacecraft data follow, emphasizing interesting and helpful facts...well-written and detailed enough to guide the beginning researcher." Sky & Telescope

Book Description

This is an informative, up-to-date and well-illustrated guide for amateur astronomers who wish to make useful observations of the solar system planets and asteroids. The author provides highly-detailed practical instructions to observational techniques and the recording and analysis of data together with the observational history of each planet and the asteroids. Photoelectric photometry, videography and planetary photography are discussed, including sections on the revolutionary charge-coupled devices and on video-assisted drawing.

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Customer Reviews

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Maybe I was just too sensitive, but the introduction did rub me the wrong way.
Dennis Mabrey
This book is a good read for the general amateur astronomer and a required text for the dedicated planet observer.
Ritesh Laud
There are very little illustrations and photo, and they are all in black and white.
Po H. Chiu

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By JK Saggese (jk.saggese@prodigy.net) on September 13, 1998
Format: Paperback
Fred Price has produced a wonderful guide to the inquisitive amateur astronomer who wants to undertake solar system observations. The book provides a very thorough and useful discussion of the solar system and "celestial sphere," and progresses into a fairly standard, but very informative, discussion about telescopes and atmospheric conditions. The meat of the book assigns one chapter to each planet; for each planet the author provides the essential orbital characteristics, physical properties, etc., and an enlightening relation of the history of each planet's observations. This history not only prepares the observer for what to expect to see at the eyepiece, but allows him to place the quality of his observations in historical context. Finally, Dr. Price provides suggestions of good science which a dedicated and moderately well-equipped amateur can perform, contributing usefully to human knowledge of the solar system. I found this book quite informative, and found that it has enriched my observing experience at the telescope.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Bill Wiegert on August 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
This terrific book is an illustrated and textual exposition of the Solar System - a guided tour of the planets and their characteristics - from the transients of Mercury to eclipses and occultations of Pluto and Charon. Except for a few singular and minor omissions, The Planet Observer's Handbook qualifies as one of the best works on the Solar System to date. In fact we've included it on the Belmont Society's "Required Reading List" for the amateur astronomer.
Advanced amateurs may want to skim through the first chapters - dealing with telescope types, accessories, components of the celestial sphere, and introductory terminology. There are however, some eye-catching moments for jaded readers, like the apodizing (antidifraction) screen, a simple homemade device to limit diffraction and the effects of atmospheric turbulence while not adversely affecting image contrast or quality (it's actually an old trick, but not that well known).
This book was not intended to be a "post card catalog" of pretty pictures. Thus there are no contemporary photographs such as pictures of Venus from the HST, or a Cassinni fly-by image of Io against the festooned background of Jupiter. There are however, many pertinent photos and illustrations to serve historic interest and to offer educational impact. We find this arrangement to be perfectly suitable and appropriate.
Some may be surprised and/or a little disappointed that our moon is not included here. But keep in mind that the moon is a subject unto itself, and thus deserves a work of a separate magnitude - and there are several available.
There are some disappointments: Aside from some basic illustrations for the purpose of scale, this work is notably lacking in accurate renditions of the orbital planes of major satellites.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Po H. Chiu on April 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
I was surprised by the technical flavor of this book, as I expected (wrongly, it turned out) a beginner to mid-level observation handbook which I could take out with me on my observation trips.
The book is over 400 pages long, all written in 10 point Times font. There are very little illustrations and photo, and they are all in black and white. So it looks like a college science textbook and is very challenging visually.
Each of the sections on each planet have the same subsections such as "History of Observation" (mostly useless to me), "Observing [Jupiter, etc.]" and "Space craft Obsevation of [Jupiter, etc.]"
It also seems that to see most of the stuff described in this book, you need to have a telescope that is at least 8 inches, so that is out of my league.
However, in fairness, I know that this is a very compresensive book on the subject, and answers all possible questions that one may have on observing the planets.
But as I said, this book is more suitable for the advanced amateur Astronomer.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a good read for the general amateur astronomer and a required text for the dedicated planet observer. I fall in the "general amateur" category and do not have the patience nor inclination to devote my observing time to sketching the planets night after night. Yet I enjoyed the book anyway and it gave me a sound appreciation for the dynamic nature of our neighbors in the solar system as well as the numerous ways in which the serious amateur can contribute to the science.
This book is replete with details on the numerous features visible on the planets through amateur telescopes. It also gives advice on what type of telescope to use and what magnifications to employ. Basic scientific data on each planet (rotation rate, mass, distance, etc.) is included for reference as well as a lengthy history of observation for each planet, but the emphasis of this book is on *amateur observation*, as implied by the title. You won't find theories on Saturn's cloud decks or the origins of Mars' surface features. What you will find are detailed tips and advice on how to look for and draw the spokes in Saturn's rings, festoons between Jupiter's cloud belts, the "purple haze" on Mars, filters to employ, etc.
A necessary work at a great price for the hardcore planet observer! For the casual amateur, a bit expensive and over-the-top but still a useful addition to the library. I give it five stars because it adheres to its stated purpose faithfully and with style.
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