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Star Maps: History, Artistry, and Cartography (Springer Praxis Books / Popular Astronomy) 1st ed. 2007. Corr. 2nd printing Edition

13 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0387716688
ISBN-10: 0387716688
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Editorial Reviews


From the reviews: "Lucky me. I just received Star Maps: History, Artistry, and Cartography by Nick Kanas (Springer, 2007). This is one thorough and highly illustrated book! … In addition to numerous black-and-white illustrations, three sections (totaling 76 pages) reproduces star maps in color. Several appendices and a glossary round out this terrific book. If you’re interested in acquiring some of the magnificent maps Kanas describes, be sure to read Appendix A, ‘Collecting celestial maps and prints.’" (Michael Bakich, Astronomy Magazine, November, 2007) "This work will undoubtedly become a standard reference work for this study. … this is an extraordinary book at a very reasonable price by one of our own members who is a world class observer and a highly skilled writer. I’m sure you will enjoy reading it. … Well done, Nick. Your efforts will be appreciated for many years to come." (Bill Warren, California Map Society Newsletter, Vol. 2K+7 (4), 2007) "This California psychiatry professor has poured decades of personal fascination with old star maps into a comprehensive survey, which goes from antiquity through the 20th century. … More than 200 illustrations, 76 in color, are nicely presented for a book of modest … format. … An appendix contains wise advice for anyone collecting antiquarian star maps." (Roger Sinnott, Sky & Telescope, March, 2008) "Today’s interplanetary probes and space stations make it easy to overlook that it all began by simply looking up at the sky and charting the stars. … As you might expect in a book on maps, the many illustrations (76 in colour) are well reproduced … . In the forward, Norman Thrower (UCLA) opines that this work will become ‘an important reference work’ for those interested in the history of stellar cartography. I heartily agree. It’s a thumping good read too!" (Steve Ringwood, Astronomy Now, March, 2008) "Dr. Kanas is the author of a wonderful book: Star Maps … . His enthusiasm leaps from every page of this detailed investigation of the development of celestial prints and star atlases. It chronicles attempts to chart the stars from ancient times to today. … As well as exploring the changing equipment in astronomy and cartography, the book covers the philosophies and personalities that saw star charts develop from images of gods and animals into the more scientific … maps in use today." (, February, 2008) "Nick Kanas, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco who clearly loves antique star maps, has written a wonderfully attractive and informative book for collectors and aficionados. … Readers will certainly appreciate the many illustrations in this book, a good number of them in full color." (Deborah Jean Warner, The Portolan, Spring, 2008) "The book is profusely illustrated, with some charts in color. It includes mapping of the 48 constellations that were listed by Ptolemy in classic times and are still retained … . Kanas charts the sky models of the classical, medieval, and modern arrangements of the solar and stellar systems throughout recorded history, and their rationales. Because this volume covers much of astronomy before the physics of Newton and others, it is well recommended for most libraries. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty." (A. R. Upgren, CHOICE, Vol. 45 (7), 2008) "In this book Dr Nick Kanas has provided a comprehensive guide which should help collectors, librarians and historians through this difficult but rewarding subject. … This book covers an important division of the history of science and of mapping, and on the whole it does it very well. … a book that will rightly take its place as a useful reference source for anyone concerned with the history of celestial mapping." (Peter Whitfield, IMCoS Journal, Spring, 2008) "We … have in this comprehensive book by Kanas, a new and timely source for context and guidance on the full scope of celestial imagery. … a primer on the history of astronomy for a print collector drawn to the celestial domain, as well as a practical guide to the identification and understanding of these attractive maps and charts. … Kanas’s book is an important compendium of celestial imagery. … And it is reasonably priced." (Michael Mendillo, Imago Mundi, Vol. 60 (2), 2008) "Nick Kanas, is an avid collector of celestial maps and charts. He has taken his many years of collecting expertise and condensed it into a marvellous book on this fascinating aspect of enjoying the night sky. His book is filled with 207 colour and black-and-white images of celestial maps from all ages. … very easy to follow and a real joy to read. … I highly recommend this book to students of the history of astronomy or anyone interested in observing the night sky." (Robert A. Garfinkle, The Observatory, Vol. 128 (1205), August, 2008) "Star Maps is perhaps the most comprehensive treatment of astronomical cartography since ... 1932. Star Maps is a 380-plus page, inch-thick slab of well-written information. ... Throughout, the book is well illustrated with monochrome photographs accompanying the description of individual publications and topics. ... In summary, Prof. Kanas has produced a superb addition for the library of anyone interested in the history of astronomy. Star Maps is likely to become the standard reference on astronomical cartography for many years hence." (Kevin Kilburn, SHA Newsletter, Issue 17, October, 2008)

About the Author

Nick Kanas, M. D, is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. He has been a member of the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers since 1978 and has collected and researched antiquarian celestial books, atlases, and prints for nearly 25 years. He is a member of several map collector societies and has lectured on the history of celestial cartography at scientific and non-scientific meetings of organizations such as the Sydney (Australia) Observatory, the 20th International Conference on the History of Cartography, and the California Map Society. He also has written articles on this subject for a number of journals and magazines, including Sky & Telescope, Mercury, Imago Mundi, Mercator's World, and the Journal of the International Map Collectors' Society. Professor Kanas has written over 160 professional articles and 3 books, including, with D. Manzey, Space Psychology and Psychiatry (Kluwer/Springer, 2003), which won the 2004 International Academy of Astronautics Life Science Book Award. He also won Honorable Mention in the 2006 Boeing/Griffith Observer Science Writing Contest for his astronomy article on "Sacrobosco's De Sphaera" (which was published in the astronomy magazine Griffith Observer, sponsored by the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles).


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Product Details

  • Series: Springer Praxis Books / Popular Astronomy
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Praxis; 1st ed. 2007. Corr. 2nd printing edition (August 24, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0387716688
  • ISBN-13: 978-0387716688
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,400,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By KJ Kilburn on March 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
Nick Kanas's Star Maps is perhaps the most comprehensive book on astronomical cartography to be published in the last 50 years. It is an inch-thick mass of well-illustrated information and is worth its weight in gold just for the mini-biographies of astronomers spanning three millenia and four continents. Its content belies its very modest price. Star Maps will likely become the standard reference on astronomical cartography for many years to come.
Kevin J Kilburn FRAS.
Secretary, the Society for the History of Astronomy
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By P. Hunt on January 30, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm starstruck with delight! Whoever wants to verify how the stars have been perceived for many millennia across the globe will be very satisfied as well as inspired in reading this star history by Kanas. Thorough, erudite, amply documented with many clear appendices yet also accessibly written for general readers, STAR MAPS is a cartographer's dream. The high quality of the many images (over 80 in color, over 125 in black and white) is first rate as well. Kanas has been very careful in presenting the compendium of Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Chinese, Islamic and other cultures who have contributed as much to our knowledge of constellations and astronomy as the more familiar Classical scientists. Major historical persons like Aristarchus of Samos and Claudius Ptolemy are balanced with the later Copernicus, Kepler, Brahe, Galileo and less known astronomers such as Al-Khwarizmi, Sacrobosco and the polymath Thomas Young. As a valuable resource tool for stargazers and academics alike, this book sets the bar very high as the best available history of astronomy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K. J. Kilburn on May 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
It is interesting to see the comments, mostly favourable, from other reviewers. The concept of Kanas's Star Maps is truly enormous and can only be compared with other similar books on the subject. From my perspective, it probably has only one peer, 'Astronomical Atlases, Maps and Charts; An Historical & General Guide', by Basil Brown. This was originally published in 1932 and reprinted in 1968 by Dawsons of Pall Mall, London. SBN: 7129 0131 0 . This is the reference work most often quoted on the subject of astronomical cartography but is itself incomplete in its description of some star atlases.

With a subject as specialised as astronomical cartography, rarely discussed outside of a limited field of expertese, the scope of Star Maps is to be applauded. It isn't perfect, what is? But if republished to take account of relatively minor quibbles, it will stand the test of time. I cannot believe that anyone else is likely to tackle astronomical cartography in the foreseeable future.

Regarding star names and star lore, there are more comprehensive books on this subject but this in no way detracts from Nick Kanas's work any more than any book on astronomical history can ever be regarded as being all-encompassing.

KJ Kilburn FRAS
Secretary, the Society for the History of Astronomy
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dave Asheim on December 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
I received this book as a gift in the fall, and just finished it. It's terrific. I am just a casual observer of astronomy, but this is not really just an astronomy book -- it's about the art and science of mapping the sky from the very beginning. The author has taken a topic out of the reach of many of us and turned it into one fascinating read. This makes a great present. The maps and the history presented are terrific.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Marc Hoffeld on January 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
"Star Maps" is a new milestone in books about the history of celestial maps. It is in my opinion one of the best works ever written on the subject. Being a collector myself I consider "Star Maps" an unvaluable reference for any enthusiast.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Objective analysis on April 8, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

1) Great coverage, great details, great illustrations, great bio's, a lot of information crammed in, very well structured, very dense.

1) Reads more like an encyclopedia reference and/or field guide to star map history. I am very ok with that approach it is pure, here is a fact, here is another fact, here is another fact, etc...not a story teller.
If you are looking for a more authored personalized writing style the books doesnt flow that way, it is a very rich and dense information dump that goes from one page to another, it does feel more like an encyclopedia style of writing and a very very good one.

So if you like your information to the point, lots of it and very fast then you will like this book. It is outstanding as a compilation of data, I am sure Kepler would have bought one of these, it is his style of information processing.....if you are a "Once upon a time"...tell me a story reader, this might be too tight and crisp.

It is really more about star map makers and that evolution and the author is in and out and on to the next topic, so if you collect or need to come up to speed or have a history interest there is no peer to this outstanding reference work.

If you want to linger on a topic with a lot of story telling and deep dives this is not written that way, it is a shotgun, tied to a machine gun approach, almost a compliation of factoid bullets, and just enough to cover the topics and keep within the context of trying to encompass centuries of information in a very concise and succinct writing format.
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