Customer Review

26 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stargazing, August 4, 2008
This review is from: Binocular Stargazing (Paperback)
The nighttime sky is truly a wonder to behold, and for a young boy just starting a lifetime of discovery, my dad's old binoculars were all I needed. When you read about the latest discovery with the Hubble space telescope, you might think that the only things worth looking at are with the biggest, best, and most expensive equipment, but it simply isn't true. If you are just getting interested in astronomy, you might want to consider Binocular Stargazing by Mike D. Reynolds.

Why start with binoculars? 1. A pair of binoculars of reasonable quality can be bought for under $[...]; a telescope of reasonable quality can cost twice as much, or much more. 2. Binoculars are easier to learn to use than a telescope. 3. Objects are easier to find with a standard pair of binoculars than a telescope, and allows a novice to begin to learn the night sky and navigate from object to object. 4. If you decide that astronomy is not for you, you can always use the binoculars for other things, and 5. Two eyes are simply better than one.

Many amateur astronomers keep a pair of binoculars when out observing. Binoculars can be useful for first examining a part of the sky before an object is located. And when that occasional fireball appears, a pair of binoculars is useful for examining the smoke trail, or train, often left behind--and if you are quick enough, the meteor itself.

Most of us have looked up at the night sky and seen what is commonly called a falling or shooting star. These momentary streaks occur when meteors, objects ranging from the size of dust particles to fist-size masses, enter the earth's atmosphere and are heated to incandescence. Few of these objects survive their encounter with our atmosphere.

What we see on earth is a streak of light that lasts about a half second on average -- generally speaking, the larger the material that enters the atmosphere, the brighter the meteor. Brighter meteors will occasionally leave a smoke trail in their path lasting a few seconds; trails produced by very bright meteors, referred to as fireballs, may last minutes. Fireballs that appear to break up, or produce sound, are called bolides.

One of the most prolific meteor showers known as the Perseids occurs in August. The Perseids are so called because the point they appear to come from lies in the constellation Perseus. Meteor showers occur when Earth moves through a meteor stream. The stream in this case is called the Perseid cloud and it stretches along the orbit of the Comet Swift-Tuttle. The shower is visible from mid-July each year, with the greatest activity between August 8 and 14, peaking about August 12. During the peak, the rate of meteors reaches 60 or more per hour. To experience the shower in its full, one should observe in the dark of a clear moonless night, from a point far outside any large cities, where stars are not dimmed by light pollution-such as Cherry Springs state park.

If you are looking for a good introduction to the wonderful world of meteors and meteorite collecting, check out Falling Stars, A Guide to Meteors & Meteorites by Mike D. Reynolds. There are a number of good books out there on this subject, but this one is a handy quick reference guide for novices and those interested in learning about the origins of these interesting pieces of rock from space. It gives a brief overview of meteors and comets, descriptions of major meteor showers, major impact craters, and famous meteorite falls, as well as a breakdown of the various types of meteorites.

Backyard astronomy can be easy and fun. I'm going to make myself a big bowl of popcorn, drag my Barcaloungerä into the backyard and catch a FREE midnight show.

Kevin Coolidge wishes for clear skies at [...]
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 5, 2010 11:15:01 AM PST
Annonymous says:
Its is suppose to be a Review of the book not a summary of your astronomy knowledge.

Posted on Dec 28, 2011 12:33:05 PM PST
BPop says:
This is so pointless.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 28, 2011 1:00:13 PM PST
A. D. Cox says:
did I use too many big words for you?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 28, 2011 1:01:09 PM PST
A. D. Cox says:
then don't read it. You took the time to comment on it. So, your life must be pointless

Posted on Jan 12, 2014 7:07:47 PM PST
Robert says:
Not too many big words, Mr. Cox. Just very little to do with the book itself. This is a place for reviews of the item in question. While it's admirable to see that you have some knowledge of meteoroids, that is not the main subject of the book. So, your "review" is a waste of space and NOT helpful to those wishing to understand whether or not the book meets their current need.
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A. D. Cox
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Location: northern PA, USA

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