- Series: Deep-Sky Companions
- Hardcover: 324 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; First Published edition (December 28, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521553326
- ISBN-13: 978-0521553322
- Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 39 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,436,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Deep-Sky Companions: The Messier Objects First Published Edition
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Steve O'Meara has been called "the best visual planetary observer of modern times." The first to spot Comet Halley on its return in 1985, the first to determine the rotation period of Uranus, he now turns his amazing visual skills to the deep sky.
Charles Messier was one of the best comet hunters of the 1700s, with 12 comet discoveries to his credit. He was frustrated because he kept wasting time looking at fuzzy objects that turned out not to be comets. The list he kept and published of "things that aren't comets" turned out to be his ticket to immortality.
Amateur astronomers of all ages enjoy tackling the Messier catalogue members, because they represent a good sampling of what's "out there," and because finding them helps to hone observing skills. In a sense, the Messier objects are the testing grounds for budding skywatchers.
O'Meara's guide is unique in conveying his approach to observing: "It's an approach based on creative perception and on using the imagination to see patterns and shapes in the subjects seen through the eyepiece. It involves using not just your eye but also your mind's eye to associate those patterns and shapes with things that are familiar with you, to create pictures and even stories." With O'Meara as your docent, you will truly appreciate the art of the universe. --Mary Ellen Curtin
"All the essentials are here...O'Meara's book will be an invaluable guide to some of the finest showpieces in the heavens." New Scientist
"For those planning to...enjoy many fine celestial vistas, there is no better guide than Stephen O'Meara's book. For each object, a photograph, a finder chart, basic data and a quote from Messier's accounts are provided, with a discussion of what is seen through small telescopes, and some history of telescopic studies." Nature
"An excellent guide for anyone interested in observing this class of fascinating deep-sky objects." SpaceViews
"This delightful observing companion by veteran astronomical observer, photographer, and writer O'Meara summarizes the basics of observing (including definitions, concepts, and sky descriptions), and methods and equipment involved...amateur observers...will find this book to be exceptionally useful because it also gives one of the best approaches to observing. Coordinates, size and brightness, distance, excellent description, finding chart, photograph, and a drawing are listed for each object....Highly recommended." Choice
"...will become the standard reference book of the Messier objects for years to come." Science Books & Films
Top customer reviews
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i liked o'meara's basic approach. there's a two or three page chapter to each messier object, with lots of historical, observational, astronomical, cosmological and sentimental or human interest details. the chapters include a characteristic b&w photo of each structure (chosen to suggest its appearance in an amateur telescope, not as seen by hubble or keck), its NGC number, constellation, celestial coordinates, visual magnitude (here o'meara dissents from some standard estimates), type of object, visual size, distance, discoverer and date of discovery. he quotes the antiquated description from messier's catalog, and the pithier comments from the NGC catalog. there's a schematic star map of the sky area in which the object is found (you'll need a good star atlas as a supplement), and a pencil sketch by o'meara of the object's appearance in a telescope. (sketching is part of o'meara's attention to the secret tricks of visual observing, which are imparted here and there throughout the text and even as a sequence of drawings that demonstrate how your eye for detail improves through sustained and repeated observations.)
i very much liked the introductory chapter, "charles messier and his catalog" and the back matter reference appendices. but i have some qualms. the book is entirely in black, and all the messier chapter pages are trimmed at the top by a fat band of black: it would have been simple, eye pleasing and not much expensive, to print these bands in different colors, keyed to the type of object in that chapter. some of o'meara's drawings turn to the weirdly fanciful -- the butterfly cluster as a butterfly, the black swan cluster as a swan ... we even get a bat and a ufo. these were flat out unhelpful. and the photos are not reproduced with an angular scale, as they are in o'meara's "herschel 400" book, so you can't tell how large the object will appear at a given magnification. but these are minor points in comparison to the expertise, scholarship and attention to detail otherwise evident on every page.
This book might look daunting at first, it reminds me of academic textbooks, especially when you take off the cover, but the contents are quite easy to follow and written with easy-to-read style. The author doesn't only teach you how to observe them but also tell the interesting history, mistakes, and some thoughts on Messier's works which fulfill the richness of Messier objects gazing. But for people who love to see brilliant, Hubble-like and colorful pictures of Messier objects, this book is not for you because the author intentionally wants to show what you can truly see with your very own eyes in eyepieces and for people who use GO-TO, GPS or press-the-button telescopes, don't bother to buy this book since it is more suitable for star-hopping type telescope but you can still enjoy other contents of the book.
It is a fine supplement to Pennington's Messier Marathon book, taking off where Pennington's book leaves off. Pennington is valuable for quickly locating the objects, O'Meara tells you almost everything you might want to know about each one.
Only one minor defect exists. While O'Meara states in the early text that his finder charts show North up and West to the right, and that the photographs show South up and East to the right as seen in most telescopes, he fails to mention that his drawings are the same orientation as the photographs. This can be seen fairly quickly when comparing them, although in some cases, the resemblance between the drawings and the photographs suffers a bit from the artists interpretation of what he saw. Directional arrows on figures of these items are always useful, and generally provided - except in this book.
A very good buy.
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I would like to buy the rest of the collection if available.