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Deep Sky Objects: The Best And Brightest from Four Decades of Comet Chasing Paperback – November 7, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Levy, of the famous comet-hunting team Shoemaker-Levy, compiles a comprehensive catalog of objects which can be observed in all light conditions and usually with low-power equipment. Targeting novice astronomers, Levy provides a brief astronomy primer-"permanent" objects, terms and definitions-before jumping into the lengthy list of deep sky sites (stars, nebulae and the like located outside our solar system). The following 10 chapters present deep sky objects in order of increasing distance from Earth, beginning with nearby stars and ending with galaxies and distant quasars. Levy provides the astronomical coordinates, magnitude and recommendations for best viewing, and the descriptions are interspersed with stories of his observations, mishaps, frustrations and beginner's struggles. His excitement over these stars is palpable and infectious, though his narrative can get clunky with techtalk. ("We inserted a 7 mm eyepiece...This combination yielded a comfortably high magnification of 726 power to try to split the lensed object, which has a separation of 6.3 arcseconds.") Dedicated stargazers will appreciate the book's reference section, which includes the full Levy deep sky list, an inventory of objects commonly mistaken for comets, 29 star maps, a bibliography and a short glossary. A thorough resource, the book will be a much-thumbed reference for amateur skywatchers. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A successful amateur astronomer known for his comet hunting, Levy is also a notable popularizer through his occasional columns in the Sunday newspaper magazine Parade and a half-dozen astronomy books. This one is born of serendipity, being a list of fuzzy celestial objects that the comet hunter must be aware of lest they be misidentified as comets. Explaining that this type of compilation has a famous pedigree in the history of astronomy--Charles Messier compiled his catalog in the late 1700s for the same reason--Levy dives into his favorites. Arranged according to their cosmic distance, Levy personalizes the objects with an anecdote about how he first observed them over a period extending back to his early-1960s teenage days. His stories reflect the individuality of stargazing--one sky watcher gravitates to comets, another to galaxies--and allow Levy's readers to become better acquainted with their Canadian-born author. Levy loads his book with star maps and locating data--essential information for readers inspired to turn to the heavens. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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The book has an odd overall structure, and the organization within chapters is a free-association mess of object descriptions, personal recollections, observing advice and seemingly whatever happens to cross Levy's mind.
It's frustrating because there are elements of a good book here, but as it stands it doesn't really work as an observing guide, reference book or personal memoir, despite trying to be all three.
The list of objects itself, currently available on the internet, is an excellent and useful list which could form the basis of an interesting personal observing program.
This book is based on a list of objects visible in the sky that might be confused with comets. He began this list many years ago to avoid mis-identification as he searched for comets. Here he lists, describes, and usually photographs these items from deep into space. The objects are arranged from 'nearby,' that's say up to a few hundred light years away, to billions of light years.
I can't help but wonder what Galileo would have thought of this book as he spent his final years under house arrest for publishing a book saying that four moons orbited Jupiter.