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on April 16, 2001
This is a thick book heavy on content and true to its purpose: to help the novice amateur astromoner learn how to navigate the sky without the aid of motorized GOTO computers or setting circles. The work contains about 24 starhops, most of which are fairly lengthy and take two hours or longer to complete if observing leisurely.
Although the text is a bit dry and not as enjoyable to work through as in MacRoberts' wonderfully descriptive and similar work "Star-Hopping for Backyard Astronomers", the emphasis in this book is on *empirical star-hopping practice*. Once you complete the exercises in this book you *will* have gained a subconscious feel for navigating the skies with your scope. Traditional star-hopping becomes second nature and loses its daunting aspect.
I feel that all amateur astronomers should have this skill down pat. It makes your observing immeasurably easier because you have an intuitive "feel" for which direction and how far to move your scope.
The maps are well done but do not completely reflect the text. Sometimes objects are discussed in the text but don't appear on the map. Also, the maps are not at near a large enough scale to make the star-hops fully straightforward. For the dimmer DSOs in his tours (and there are many of them), I highly advise the reader to purchase a solid Mag 8.5 or deeper star atlas to accompany this book, such as Tirion's Sky Atlas 2000.0 2nd Ed.
Overall, recommended over MacRoberts' book for serious training and experience in this skill. Rank beginners will want to start with something easier, like MacRoberts or the excellent Turn Left at Orion.
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on November 12, 2000
Garfinkle's book is a first-rate introduction into "star-hopping," the practice of using patterns of stars to find interesting objects in the night sky. He has a couple of chapters that provide useful tips for the novice--such as judging the field of view of a view finder--but then he dives right in. He adopts a constellation-based approach, marching around the major stars in a constellation to find the stellar and deep sky objects within. He is cosmopolitan in his interests, highlighting double, multiple and variable stars as well as every possible deep sky object accessible to amateur telescopes. His text is so full of information and folklore that it can almost be distracting: did you really need to know the exact spectral class of Deneb? Nevertheless, his guides and maps are outstanding and the tours he assembles are just GREAT. To my knowledge, there is nothing like them in the literature. His tours of Cygnus, Sagitarius, and Lyra got me hooked on telescope astronomy, and I return to them again and again. It would take years of dedicated effort to exhaust the richness of this book.
The main strength of Garfinkle's approach--the constellation-based approach--is also its main weakness. This is because fascinating objects a view-finder or two away from the constellation in questions are either discussed in some chapter other than the one in hand or are not discussed at all. This can be frustrating if you are an experienced star-hopper. Garfinkle compensates for this by identifying so much of interest in each of his star hops that you probably won't care. If you do, an excellent companion to "Star Hopping" is "Discover the Stars" by Richard Berry, which touches upon a small fraction of the objects discussed by Garfinkle but presents a broader swipe of the sky.
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on July 15, 1998
The feature that recommends this book is the road-map approach to viewing objects in a constellation beyond the standard show-pieces. The author includes all kinds of fascinating background information, and you end up seeing things you would otherwise pass by. First-rate.
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on December 21, 2014
While this book is certainly useful when developing the skill of star-hopping with a small telescope, one cannot but notice the whopping omission of mnemonic devices that serve as a springboard to star-hopping itself. Some of the star-hops Garfinkle puts the student through are rather more awkward and counter-intuitive than they need to be; again, this seems to serve to build the technique generally. Even so, this book would prove more useful had he included some of the standards.
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on August 23, 2010
Excellent guide for beginner or expert. Easy-to-use charts enable the backyard astronomers to locate sky objects simply by "star-hopping" from one guide star to another.
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on November 22, 2011
This book lives up to it's title and gives instructions to find star targets by star hopping. Using this book with other star charts helps to understand where you are going and how to get there. In addition the book gives background information as to the meanings of star names and details of mythology origins of constellations. It's an interesting and useful book.
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on August 20, 2013
This is a very comprehensive book on star hopping. I just went from a Go-to to a Dobs and needed some good instruction. I think this will work but it is pretty intimidating.
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on March 4, 2016
Much information with mediocre representation.
Formal and academic style.
Could be good textbook, but not for fun reading.
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