- Paperback: 704 pages
- Publisher: Dover Publications; Revised edition (February 1, 1978)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0486235688
- ISBN-13: 978-0486235684
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 58 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #736,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Burnham's Celestial Handbook: An Observer's Guide to the Universe Beyond the Solar System, Vol. 2 Revised Edition
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Having said that, however, Burnham's is surprisingly well-suited for Kindle. RB was munificent with photographs of stars and deep-sky objects in his handbook, but after all, the entire lot of pictures was medium- to low-quality black-and-white, which the Kindle adequately reproduces. And what the Kindle lacks in greyscale rendering, it more than makes up for in convenience by making the handbooks super portable. I still have my three printed volumes. I will never part with them. But I must admit that when I need them most, they are inconveniently far away at the bottom of my bookcase in another room. There's nothing like the close companionship of the Kindle, especially when it is chock full of our dear old friends such as Burnham's Celestial Handbook.
Over the years I've used Burnham's like a typical reference. When I needed information about a celestial object, I'd see what RB had to say about it. But in Kindle format, I find myself actually reading the handbooks like a book. Imagine that! I feel even closer to RB when I read his meanderings on the Kindle. In fact, in the short time I've had Burnham's on my Kindle, I've read it much more than I read the printed volumes in three decades!
Burnham's is multidimensional. It's arranged sensibly. It follows a few basic conventions set forth by the author, making the thousands of pages easy to navigate. The tables of grouped objects (stars, double-stars, deep-sky star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies) in each constellation are followed by interesting and insightful descriptions and illustrations of the brightest and best. RB's passion for organization and classification was seasoned by a love of literature and sky lore, which turns an otherwise dull science tome into a delightful fireside read. It's the stuff that used to keep amateur astronomers occupied on cloudy nights. Today, there are so many online informative and interactive resources that Burnham's lies sadly like a long-forgot childhood toy, under the bed with the dust bunnies.
You can bring Burnham's back to life on your Kindle and read it for pleasure or for information. While astronomy is one of those constantly evolving sciences, there is something that will keep Burnham's around forever: the treasures of the night sky. For most of us, the path our eyes take through the universe is uncharted. We wander willy-nilly through the constellations, often not digging into them very deeply, and sometimes missing the obvious. Burnham's is a treasure map. As you fan through its pages, the glint of a galaxy or the sparkle of a star cluster will catch your eye and you'll say, "What? I didn't know there's a galaxy like that in Camelopardalis!" On your next night out with your telescope, you'll have something new to look for or take a picture of with your telescope and camera. And it doesn't matter if you can't "fan the pages" of a Kindle book. You can use the "Go To" menu and pick a random constellation. Explore it through the words, pictures, and personal experience of RB.
The history of astronomy is as fascinating as the science itself. Much of RB's text references the observations and musings of astronomers from long ago. This also makes the Celestial Handbook a classic and timeless piece of literature. It really does hold up well to the test of time. I'm probably preaching to the choir.
In short, if you are just beginning a journey to the stars, or if you veered off course a while ago and want to rekindle your interest in the wonders of astronomy, I highly recommend Burnham's. Download a free sky charting program for your PC, like "Cartes du Ciel," or use a smartphone app or planisphere to acquaint (or re-acquaint) yourself with the stars and constellations. Then put Burnham's on your Kindle, get yourself a telescope, and begin your treasure hunt in the sky.