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Astronomy Hacks: Tips and Tools for Observing the Night Sky Paperback – June 27, 2005
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About the Author
Robert Bruce Thompson is a coauthor of O'Reilly's Building the Perfect PC and PC Hardware in a Nutshell. A born geek, he built his first computer in 1976 with 256 bytes of memory, toggle switches, and no operating system. Since then, he has bought, built, upgraded, and repaired hundreds of PCs for himself, employers, customers, friends, and clients. Robert spends most clear, moonless nights outdoors with his 10-inch Dobsonian reflector telescope, hunting down faint fuzzies, and is currently designing a larger truss-tube Dobsonian (computerized, of course) that he plans to build.
Barbara Fritchman Thompson, the coauthor of Building the Perfect PC and PC Hardware in a Nutshell, worked for 20 years as a librarian before starting her own home-based consulting practice, Research Solutions. She's also a researcher for the law firm Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge, & Rice, PLLC. During her leisure hours, Barbara reads, works out, plays golf, and, like Robert, is an avid amateur astronomer.
Top customer reviews
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When I was 12 I got my hands on a telescope catalog and it really captured my imagination, but all of the telescopes were well out of my price range. So my early enthusiasm died on the vine. But I was operating under a common misconception: that if you want to be an amateur astronomer, the first thing you need is a telescope.
In fact, the first thing you need is a love of and interest in the cosmos as it is revealed in the night sky. If you are not willing to go outside and spend some time learning the constellations and observing some of the brighter objects with binoculars, you probably have no business springing for a telescope anyway. Buy this book instead. It's a lot cheapter, and it will teach you how to use sky maps and planispheres, how to predict what will be visible and when, and how best to observe the various objects you might be interested in, from the moon and planets to star clusters, nebulas, and galaxies. You'll make better decisions about what other gear to buy once you have some idea of what you'll point that gear _at_.
With a title like "Astronomy Hacks" I expected this book to be mostly a collection of advanced tips for seasoned stargazers. But in fact the book covers everything from your first serious look at the night sky to fine-tuning the performance of a telescope and how to plan and run a Messier marathon (an attempt to view all 110 Messier objects in one night). I'm glad I picked it up, and I'm glad I picked it up early in the redevelopment of my interest in astronomy. It saved me a lot of time, money, and frustration. I can't recommend it highly enough.
Although there are 65 "hacks" in the book, each hack has many tips. Tips that a beginner will appreciate as well as many experienced amateur astronomers. There are no chapters on "the moon", "the planets", "deep space objects", etc. Just A LOT of information on general observing. My advice: If you're looking for a book that has a lot of information that anyone, from beginner to advanced can find valuable, this book is one of them.
The authors clearly love astronomy, and the point of the book is to help others have a good experience with astronomy by ensuring that they have the right equipment and use it to maximum advantage. Though equipment decisions are, of course, matters of personal preference, they are careful to describe multiple options, even when they clearly favor one of them. In addition, they are very conscious of the costs of the hobby, and they usually offer a range of options when they are discussing equipment. The observing and equipment maintenance tips are well explained and illustrated.
Regardless of one's experience, there is almost certainly going to be some useful hint, bit of advice, or technique in the book. It's well worth having in one's library.
Most recent customer reviews
This is not good 1st book for stargazing,
but definitely best 3rd book for stargazing.Read more