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The 50 Best Sights in Astronomy and How to See Them: Observing Eclipses, Bright Comets, Meteor Showers, and Other Celestial Wonders 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0471696575
ISBN-10: 0471696579
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*Starred Review* This would make a perfect gift for every astronomy buff. Based on a lifetime of stargazing, Schaaf lists his personal favorites—the 50 most thrilling sights to be seen in the heavens: a comet, Orion's Belt, the Andromeda Galaxy, the planet Neptune, a meteor shower, sunspots, a supernova, and on and on. Schaaf begins with some basic information and terminology (altazimuth system, for example, or right ascension) and then plunges right in with the most easily accessible astronomical sight, the starry sky above our heads. For each sight, he not only explains what it is and the best conditions under which to observe it, he also tells us about its historical, mythological, or scientific importance and explores how these far-off wonders can have a very real effect on our humble home world. This could so easily have been a dry-as-dust tome, but Schaaf's enthusiasm overflows every page. How could you not love a book about astronomy whose author tells you the date of his favorite planetary conjunction? (It was June 4, 1978, when Mars and Saturn got to within 0.1 degrees of each other.) Just a wonderful book. Pitt, David

Review

* ""...an excellent volume...I would recommend this book to any budding astronomer.""  (Astronomy Now, January 2008)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (July 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471696579
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471696575
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,532,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By QuietWalker on December 17, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was introduced to amateur astronomy about six years ago, and have recently realized that "I just enjoy looking." I didn't enjoy trying to take astro-photographs or much of the science, certainly not the chemistry! I just want the "WOW" factor, as Dean Koenig describes it. I think Fred Schaaf's recent book, 50 Best Sights in Astronomy and How to See Them, was written just for me (ISBN: 978-0-471-69657-5, $19.95 MSR in paper, available on Amazon).

My library has some 18 other books on astronomy, and I've used many - some have a large number of tables (even the chemical composition of stars, asteroids, and the like) and most have star charts, many have diagrams of both telescopes and azimuth and equatorial systems and even graphs of comparative radiations - after all, science is important. I use some of them occasionally to determine a particular fact and to confirm what I have in my telescope, but few of them (other than those with color pictures) qualify as "enjoyment reading." But Schaaf is truly the "poet of the stars" that William Sheehan has called him, and has written a book that is as enjoyable to read on a cloudy night as a rainy afternoon.

Consider his Sight 13 - Bright Comet with Long Tail: "Of all the wonders in the heavens, there are two that have inspired fear and awe more often than any others: eclipses and comets. ... There is a central reason that comets were feared by our ancestors: of all the heavens' major kinds of sights, comets seemed to be the only ones that were spectacularly unpredictable and variable." Or, his Sight 26 - The Pleiades: "Everyone is first awed b y the strangeness and splendor, then moved to affection by the gentle loveliness of the Pleiades.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A show-and-tell guide for the rooftop astronomer.
Best line in the book: The best line in the book:
"The very best sight is the entire night's sky!"
Sure is a good place to start.
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