- Paperback: 35 pages
- Publisher: Willmann-Bell (April 1, 1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0943396271
- ISBN-13: 978-0943396279
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.2 x 12 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,204,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Bright Star Atlas
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Add this accurate and inexpensive star atlas to your collection for those times you want to travel light. Contains charts for observing from any northern or southern inhabited latitude. Includes constellations, variable stars, double stars, open and globular clusters, diffuse and planetary nebulae, and galaxies. Paper. 8.5" x 11". 35 pgs.
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What I really like about it is that it's got a chart on the right and a (very abbreviated!) list of intersting objects on the left.
It's a nice atlas for the beginner astronomer. After you master this one, go on to the much better, but less straightforward atlases. I would reccommend this atlas to anyone who has bought a first telescope.
First, though magnitude 6.5 is a common threshold for a small atlas, it is inadequate for finding Neptune and the brighter asteroids. Even the humble 6x30mm finder goes considerably deeper.
Second, it has some annoying distortion near the north and south ends of the main charts.
Third, the order of the charts is backwards. When I reach the right edge of a chart, I have to stifle the instinct to continue right to the next page, force myself to reverse direction, and then turn--of all places--to the previous page instead. The same with the left edge. In other words, the charts are arranged in ascending order of right ascension when they should be arranged in descending order. I am aware that ascending is the traditional order, but it badly needs rethinking, as it is not only pointless but frustrating to the user.
Fourth, and most aggravating of all, the charts contain no adjacent chart information. Users who are looking for an object just beyond the edges of the chart they are on must make their way to the index, find the adjacent chart, and only then go to where they want to go. Remember, the user is in the dark with only a red flashlight and possibly an eyepiece in hand. There is no excuse for this shortcoming when even terrestrial atlases contain notes such as "Continues on 14" at the edges of their maps.
If you are set on a 6th magnitude atlas, there are better choices: Norton's, Cambridge, Levy's Skywatching. But I recommend skipping 6th magnitude atlases altogether in favor of Sky and Telescope's magnitude 7.6 Pocket Sky Atlas. It goes more than a magnitude deeper, shows over three times as many stars, is much more intelligently designed, and costs less.
Terence Dickinson reviewed Bright Star Atlas favorably, but his review has two problems. First, the advent of the Pocket Sky Atlas immediately relegated other small star atlases to second-class status. This is not Dickinson's fault; recommendations simply go out of date as the market changes. What is Dickinson's fault is his failure to consider factors beyond the clarity of the symbols on the individual chart. The factors mentioned above have real consequences for users in the field.