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Cosmic Challenge: The Ultimate Observing List for Amateurs 1st Edition
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"Phil Harrington is one of the rare individuals who knows the sky and can write about it in an engaging manner. Cosmic Challenge features nearly 200 celestial hunts that will challenge you no matter how many days or years you've logged looking through a telescope. In writing this book, Harrington has produced a work of enduring value, one that should be on every observer's shelf." - Michael E. Bakich, senior editor, Astronomy magazine
"From noted astronomy writer Phil Harrington comes this welcome one-of-a-kind guidebook. Harrington provides page after page of observing challenges that encourage the reader to test his or her observing skills with naked eye, binocular, or telescope. With its blend of clear, descriptive narrative and detailed finder charts, this book is a pleasure to use. Cosmic Challenge belongs on the bookshelf of every serious amateur astronomer." - Glenn Chaple, contributing writer Astronomy magazine
"If you're ready for the challenge, Phil Harrington has thrown down the gauntlet." - The Astronomical League
"I would heartily recommend this book.The book was three years in the making and it shows. A great deal of care and attention to detail has been spent. It is well written, has an interesting selection of objects suitable for all observers with varying degrees of difficulty, has good descriptions and nice charts. I don't think it is intended to be a book to work through from start to finish, but there are many ideas and gems to alight on, so just dip through and you're sure to find something of interest." - Callum Potter, J. Br. Astron. Assoc.
"Well presented, no nonsense, lots of content ... Overall, an interesting and attractive book that will keep most purchasers happy and which may, eventually, become very popular indeed." - Astronomy Now Online
"This is a book that will more than likely put you through your paces, whether you are an experienced amateur astronomer or a newbie...Cosmic Challenge is also a book worth reading for the sake of reading. It is well-written, with a pleasant, conversational 'tone,' and makes a fine way to spend evenings that have clouded over, or afternoons while waiting for the sun to go down... In the end Cosmic Challenge easily met (and exceeded) the expectations pre-publication excitement might have raised. As a result, my recommendation regarding the book is simple: if you don't own a copy yet, go out and buy one." - Thomas Watson, Cloudy Night Telescope Reviews
"Phil Harrington is a well-known astronomy writer and has published a lot of material about deep sky observing. Cosmic Challenge is his latest and probably best work to date... All-in-all this is an excellent observing guide, with something for everyone whether you observe with your unaided eyes or you have a 20 inch light bucket. It's both very readable and a proper observing guide suitable for use during an observing session. Highly recommended." - FJAstronomy.com
Listing over 500 sky targets, this guide will test novice astronomers and advanced veterans alike. Its unique mix of Solar System and deep-sky targets contains challenges suitable for the naked eye, binoculars, and backyard telescopes. Each target object has a difficulty rating, a realistic illustration, and a detailed finder chart.
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Top Customer Reviews
Harrington's book is attractive and very well organized. Following an introductory chapter about equipment and observing tips, he divides his cosmic challenges into categories based on instrument size, from naked-eye and binoculars to telescopes ranging from small to "monster" scopes. Each challenge object includes a difficulty rating. Harrington's finder charts are very useful and his portrayals of the objects themselves are extremely realistic. For example, one of my favorite targets is the Whirlpool Galaxy, and his depiction of this object in the "Medium-scope challenges" chapter is dead-on: two very dim blobs of light with slightly brighter nuclei and the slightest hint of spiral arms. That's exactly how I see it in my 8-inch.
Harrington's challenges, which number over 500 targets, include all types of deep-sky objects. Many of them have been overlooked in other observing guides. He also features double and multiple stars, as well as lunar and planetary observations. Some of the challenges are even suitable for city-dwellers.
"Cosmic Challenge" is the latest in a long line of exceptional books written by Phil Harrington and in my opinion, this work is his "tour de force." I have no doubt that this book will be an indispensible resource for serious observers for decades to come.
This would be a disservice to Phil Harrington's great effort. Am I reviewing the Seller, the Publisher, or the Author here? I should give it five stars for Phil's excellent work, and call the defects exceptions to the rule for Cambridge University Press. They have the all-time most successful astronomy book ever, in durability and otherwise in my opinion, 'Observing Handbook and Catalog of Deep Sky Objects'. A book that has lasted 20 years without losing a page, I have two copies. I only take one into the field, and it has gotten cold, gotten hot, and gotten wet!
The first 'Cosmic Challenge' book I ordered from Amazon, the section from the black title page to page 18 fell right out. The replacement, the same section came loose and fell out after lying open on the table for about an hour (can't blame QC for that). This was very surprising to me. I find it highly unlikely that I got the only two defective copies out of the whole lot. I hope Amazon investigates and looks into this problem quickly.
ANYWAYYY, this book is highly recommended. It's not only a ready reference for very relevant 'facts and factoids', from the naked-eye to extremely! deep space objects, familiar and not so familiar, but has this 'information-in-one-place' aspect that I find extremely useful. I noticed this when I paged thru it, and when I sat down and read, I found in-depth and authoritative information about some familiar objects that isn't anywhere else, and information on some obscure objects that is presently scattered about and would have to be hunted down and gathered together. This is a big book (almost 500 pages), lots of fun, interesting reading on lots of objects from Pleiades to Palomars. Phil has done an excellent job of choosing which objects to include, their history, why they are a challenge, and how to best meet those challenges to best observe each object.
It's very nice, since not everyone has a "monster" telescope, and there is a wide variety and range of relative difficulty included. Prior to buying this volume, I have already observed quite a few of the objects included. I particularly like the very "informational" approach taken by the author, and clarifies to a great degree what the average person can expect to see (or...not see!).
Strong points: Wide range of objects to observe; good descriptive information.
Weak points: Only one complaint on my part, and that is a bit more "finding" information would be useful
Overall, very few "warts" to complain about. Well worth the price and a fun read, to boot!
Okay about the book. The book is divided into different sections and the challenges are laid out depending on what kind of equipment one is using. Everything from the unaided eye to large telescopes is included.
Also there is a bonus section on double stars in the back of the book.
In short this is probably one of the best books on my bookshelf and I see it getting lots of use... the author knocked it out of the park with this one.