on March 16, 2013
This is a fabulous beginner's astronomical observing book, a must have--IN PRINT. In the Kindle version--even read on my high-resolution iPad--the tables at the end are unreadably small and fuzzy.
The body of the text is fine as are the sky images and diagrams. So if you limit yourself to those, perhaps supplemented by some material found at the book's website, you will be satisfied with the experience. And of course the information in the tables is available from a wide variety of other print and web resources.
If the tables could be properly formatted to display correctly on Kindle devices, I would upgrade my review to SIX STARS!
on April 11, 2014
1) What hardware should I buy, and advice,hints, cautions for using it.
A good book here, and the one often recommended online is:
The Backyard Astronomers Guide by Dickinson and Dyer.
2) What do the interesting objects look like through an amateur telescope.
No one book is a standard popular choice on this, I like Seeing Stars by C.R. Kitchin.
Although about $80 new, I bought one in very good condition used at Amazon for about $16.
3) How to find the object you now wish to observe.
This book, Turn Left At Orion.
Which of the three types is most valuable to the beginner, I would say 3).
Unfortunately as I write this the Amazon Peek Inside is useless for evaluating the book because only the first few pages can be seen and those pages tell nothing about what the book is mainly about. Google Books online will show more pages including many from the middle which will illustrate the help given for each of the 100 or so objects. Unfortunately as I write this Google Books site is showing an older edition (2000 / edition 3) which is arranged differently than the newer (2011 / 4th edition). And I think the newer edition is better in every way!
Views shown for each of the 100 or so interesting sky objects:
1) "where to look view" a naked eye view of a portion of the sky with a label of where the object is inside that view.
The old edition will have 1 to 4 scope icons which is how great the view is through a small 3" refractor telescope.
It will also have 1 to 4 Dobsonian icons representing how great the view is through a dobsonian telescope (these usually have more power and light gathering ability).
The new edition adds a third icon set 1 to 4 binocular icons which is how the great the view would be through binoculars. Binocs have less power but greater width of field. The large objects look their best when you can see it all at once, i.e. the binoculars are the best device to use.
The new edition will show the same "where to look" view except the view is bigger, i.e. if you measure the size of the picture
as printed on the page, in the new edition it will be more inches wide and tall. Obviously that is better.
2) "in the finderscope" view S on top N on bottom W on left and E on right and an arrow pointing the direction the stars will drift over time.
This is not the view thru the telescope, it is the view through the auxiliary viewing device every amateur will place on his scope with a lower power view. This makes it easy to find things. Once it is found in the finderscope, it will also now can be seen in the main telescope.
The new edition has the same view. But they are all slightly different as the authors have reviewed all objects in their scopes and now have what they consider better diagrams. I.E. you may sometimes get a better idea how large each star is, and sometimes there is a few more stars shown. In other words they have done what they consider some improvement in each of these, but the changes are minor.
The old edition is just about as good.
3) " in a small telescope" view. N on top S on bottom E on right W on left. Upside down, but not changed right to left. This is how a 3" refractor telescope would view the object.
The old and new both have a similar view. But they are all slightly different in the new edition.
The old edition is just about as good.
4) "In a Dobsonian view". S on top, N on bottom, E on right and W on left.
This is how starfields are oriented thru a Dob. There is no star diagonal which is why the view is upside down. Also more stars will be shown than view 3. This is because Dob has a wider mirror than a refractor lens, cost for cost. The Dob gathers more light. And so weaker stars may be seen.
These views are not given in the old edition. It is given for every one of the objects in the new edition.
If you have a Dobsonion, (instead of a refractor) then the new edition will be of far greater use.
A. Dobsonian , B. refractor, C. Newtonian, D. catadioptric
Between A. and B., the refractor is quicker to set up, lighter, more rugged, more hassle free (e.g. far less likely to ever require collimation). But the dob has bigger optics, it will see fainter stars (dollar for dollar).
C. Newtonian reflector: optics like a Dob A, but mounted on a tripod like a refractor B.
D. catadioptirc: Optics are a combination of lenses and mirrors , i.e. optics are a combination of A. and B. optics. And type D can be found for purchase mounted on a tripod like B (usually) but sometimes like a Dob A (especially smaller, cheaper catadioptrics).
A and C are open to the sky (the internal optics can get dirtied by dust far, far, easier).
B and D are have closed and sealed optical tubes. Eventually dust can enter.
Take what is below with a large grain of salt.
My advice for someone who will have the scope stored and used at home is A.
If you are going to have to pack up the scope and drive quite a ways, usually over bumpy roads, to find a dark site, I chose B.
If you are going to do both a lot, then my choice would be C. or D.
If you are going to have to pack up the scope and travel a short way, say to a local astronomy club meeting at a dark sky area, then I don't know, its about a tie in my opinion. If forced, I would take A. and probably a big one.
There will be many folks who recommend A, B, C, or D as the best all around choice, all have their fans for use by beginners.
Take everything after the ------------------- with a grain of salt. Opinions vary. But the book review above the ------ is, in my opinion, accurate and reliable.
A and C are have their main optics open to the air, thus they can get dirty from dust over time.
B and D have the optical tube sealed.
This is the book which answers that questions.
Some books or magazines offer over-sold descriptions and impossible directions (one magazine in particular leans toward cover articles like "Find Pluto with a magnifying glass and some string!"). Others are more realistic but unhelpful. This book is the very best available for someone new to stargazing who wants to look at interesting things.
First, remember that what's important about what you're seeing is what you are looking at. If the fact that what you are seeing is a far away galaxy or thousands of stars in a cluster doesn't excite you, then stargazing won't be as interesting as glancing through deep space photographs online. Turn Left At Orion excels at getting the reader to appreciate what they are seeing when they look into space. Along the same lines, it lets you know what the things you will see will look like. Don't expect the super-saturated colors which digital manipulation produces. With few exceptions (check out Alberio!) the colors you'll see in space are muted. Too many people expect to look into a telescope and see famous Hubble photographs suspended in the sky. It's not like that, and Turn Left At Orion does a great job of setting people's expectations at the right level.
But most importantly, it's written for a beginner who wants to know what can be seen by someone with binoculars or a small telescope. There is a universe of wonders waiting for someone who is willing to look, and this is far and away the best introduction.
Note - the only supplement I would suggest is Antonin Ruckl's Atlas of the Moon. While not an observing guide, it's an excellent series of drawings. These do far better than photographs in drawing attention to details, with a much better signal-to-noise ratio. The moon is under-appreciated in sky-gazing, the details you can see are amazing (if there was a Mall on the moon, you could see it, some visible rilles are 50' across). Sadly, this is out of print - again - but worth looking for.
on February 19, 2012
An excellent reference. Even if you're not new to backyard sky-watching, you'll turn to this book time and again. Just the right amount of information to help you view and understand what you're looking at. The moon, plants, stars, galaxies, Messier objects will all come to life. This is exactly what you're looking for to bring pleasure and learning to your night sky viewing. Clear, well-organized and sure to become one of your 'go-to' resources.
on April 7, 2013
So I just got my new 4th edition of Turn Left at Orion. I have to start out by saying that about two months ago I ordered this book, but after receiving it I found it to be the 3rd edition and already out of date. I spoke with Amazon CS and they had no problem sending me a free return label and full refund so I could purchase the new version. Way to go Amazon!
I am rather new to astronomy and I first purchased this book due to all the great recommendations on Amazon and other sites, but when I received it (the 3rd version), I really wasn't too thrilled with it overall - I guess I was expecting great photos and really detailed instructions on how to find objects in the sky - still it seemed a pretty good book so I ordered the new version.
WOW! What an improvement. Immediately I could see all the great changes and the detailed instructions for finding objects just as I had hoped. The feel of the book seems a little cheap at first, but considering the cost at around $20, I think the authors did this purposefully so that we could get the best info possible at a great price.
I have a 10" Dobsonian telescope and was thrilled that they give illustrations on how you might see objects with both Dob's and scopes with star diagonals at both high and low powers. After the basic intro, you jump immediately into detailed maps of the Moon which every beginner should start out with. Next is the namesake of Orion and all the exciting finds there. The chapters are then broken down by season and what you might expect to see. Super great planning for beginners or advanced sky-watchers.
Although you wont find any glossy colored photos, you would never see those views through a home telescope anyway so the illustrations are a much better way of presenting what you will actually see. The only reason I gave 4 stars out of 5 is because the pages seem like they might wear out after a lot of use or might be effected by dew in moist climates - only time will tell. Overall I highly recommend this book for every backyard astronomer. Amazon Customer Service gets 5 stars!
on September 12, 2014
From the first few pages, I knew this book had the makings (and should be) of a classic astronomy primer and educator; it is excellent. I want to thank the authors (or editors for making this book more enjoyable than most in this or any educational genre). Thank you for editing out the incessant adverbs most contain. It was a pleasure reading clean and concise English language again...
If you are a beginner, or a more advanced amateur (where I feel I fit), this book is fabulous. I sometimes felt as if I were standing next to these Gentlemen as we gazed into the heavens. Yes, it's that good...
Regardless of your position inside the amateur astonomy's rankings, 'Turn Left at Orion' will be a joy to read for content or for dreams of looking through an eyepiece at one of the thousand DSO out there waiting for your gaze which these fellows so poignantly suggest....