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Stargazing Basics: Getting Started in Recreational Astronomy Paperback – October 9, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0521728591 ISBN-10: 0521728592 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 158 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (October 9, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521728592
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521728591
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.4 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,390,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"If you have a budding astronomer in your life, then this certainly is a book that you should consider as a gift, or buying yourself, if you're that emerging stargazer. I remember when I first turned my dad's binoculars toward the night sky. I had no idea what I was looking at or the proper way to do stargazing. Some 55 years later, this small, information-packed book has arrived. I wish I had these fundamentals packed into one book back then. ... I highly recommend this well-written book for anyone interested in learning about the night sky, using and/or purchasing binoculars or a telescope, and desiring to learn how to become a knowledgeable stargazer." - Robert Garfinkle, Sky & Telescope

"The extensive glossary is a real jargon buster and will be a great help for the absolute beginner. I enjoyed this book hugely and recommend it very strongly. Kinzer is a true enthusiast. If he does not get you out there and looking up, no one will." - The Observatory

"In clear, accurate and precise terms, [the book] explains what sort of things you are likely to see...observing the sky, and from the beginning sets out to dispel common misconceptions about what is needed in order to get pleasure from observing. The descriptions of different types of binocular and telescope set-up are particularly useful to the beginner. ... Just enough explanation of each of the types of object is given so that the observer can feel they know something about what they have been looking at ... A recommended read for all who are new to stargazing...." - David Bowdley, Astronomy Now

"...written in a friendly, encouraging tone...loaded with good advice...Reading this book should be required for anyone who plans to purchase a telescope..." - Dr. John Dickey, professional astronomer

"This book does a good job of covering most of the aspects of starting recreational astronomy, from naked eye observing to purchasing and using a telescope." - Hazel Collett, Journal of the Royal British Astronomical Association

"Difficult astronomical concepts are explained clearly, there's an excellent glossary and the text is broken up with useful pictures and information boxes." - BBC Sky at Night

"Author Paul Kinzer is an amateur astronomer himself, and clearly familiar with the challenge of selecting from the dizzying range of possibilities. He wisely avoids recommending particular models, as specific suggestions will quickly become outdated. Instead, the book offers tips on telling flashy but poor quality features from those that will enhance an evening's stargazing." - Physics World

Book Description

How do I get started in astronomy? This wonderful informal guide has all you need to know to take the first steps into this fascinating hobby. It explains the basic techniques for observing the night sky, and gives sound advice on purchasing affordable binoculars, telescopes, and accessories.

More About the Author

Though he spent most of his life in St. Paul/Minneapolis, Paul Kinzer now lives in a small town in southwestern Wisconsin, where the night sky is dark and the stars are bright. He takes advantage of his location to observe and take astrophotos through his several telescopes. Paul also travels to schools, libraries, and other venues with his portable planetarium, to share the night sky during the day. He has been an occasional guest on Wisconsin Public Radio, answering listener questions about astronomy and astronomy equipment.

Paul has spent most of his adult life working with kids, from pre-schoolers through high-schoolers, and finds their enthusiastic curiosity and endless questioning a great source of nourishment for his own desire to learn, and to share what he's learned with others.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By M. Kinzer on September 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
As someone who knows almost nothing about astronomy (other than vague references I can remember from Intro to Astronomy in college 20 years ago), after reading this easy to understand guide and the fun tidbits about getting started, I feel confident that I am now prepared to take a stab at the skies with my new little telescope.Thanks to your explanations about the choices available within my price range for a new telescope, I feel good about the decision I've made for what kind of scope I should start with, what kind of mount, a few other accessories, and even where I want to begin looking. The price of this book probably saved me a couple hundred dollars in making a better decision about what to buy and what not to buy to get going.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Herbert V. Leighton on November 6, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Stargazing basics" does a good job of introducing the complete beginner to astronomy and the use of telescopes. It is brief, less than 150 pages, and it focuses on how to buy and operate telescopes that cost less than $500. There are other, much longer guides that deal with more costly telescopes and equipment, but this is the only current guide with the goal of introducing the beginner to astronomy on a budget.

Caveat: Friend of author.
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Format: Paperback
Amateur astronomer and educator Paul Kinzer presents Stargazing Basics: Getting Started in Recreational Astronomy, a highly accessible guide to readers of all ages and backgrounds. From where to find affordable binoculars, telescopes, and accessories; to how and why the visible images in the night sky change over time; to getting started in astrophotography, Stargazing Basics is an excellent and easy-to-follow primer. Black-and-white astronomical photographs taken by the writer illustrate this handy reference.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mc on May 8, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Review for Kindle version.
- guide to chose starting binoculars/telescope
- stargazing basics
- short for the price
- maps look poor on Kindle

Explanations and tips what to look for on starting binoculars/low aperture telescope are well done with practical examples and pictures that help to imagine what you will get and what you will see through it. If you have small or no knowledge on this topic this will help you to avoid mistakes.
Nice introduction to stargazing that will guide you through basic Solar system objects (planets) including basic facts about where to find them and how big they look (angular size). This continues to very basic introduction to deep space objects which can help to point you in the right direction.
At the end there are 8 basic star-maps, one for each season for north and south hemispheres. However on Kindle they look bad lacking detail or sharpness. At least they zoom-up when you turn to landscape and on large Kindle DX they are barely usable. But you can't zoom to arbitrary size like with PDF.
The book would greatly benefit by including chapter on stargazing from light-polluted areas (urban/suburban) and a bit by extending the chapter on deep-space objects.
Overall good purchase for anyone starting with (casual) astronomy. One star down for maps and rather short (but sufficient) size. If you already have good background on choosing telescopes substract one star. If you already know basics of star-gazing substract another one.
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