- Series: Peterson Field Guides
- Paperback: 592 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 4th,Updated edition (November 23, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0395934311
- ISBN-13: 978-0395934319
- Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 1.2 x 7.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #221,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Field Guide to Stars and Planets (Peterson Field Guides) 4th,Updated Edition
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"An excellent introduction to astronomy for beginners and a field guide for experts." St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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Top Customer Reviews
The cover frays and acquires "dog-ears" in a relatively short time of field use. In contrast, the Audubon field guides use a much more resilient plastic softcover. The pages smude easily from finger oils - remember, this is a guide you should be able to use for 8 years or so (until the next edition) so these are unacceptable shortcomings IMHO. By far the biggest gripe I have with this book, however, is the the choice of red to identify galaxies, star clusters etc in the atlas charts. These marks completely disappear under red light(!!!), making the charts useless for finding deep sky objects in the field. Finally, how are you supposed to operate equipment and keep the book open? Because it lacks spiral binding, the only way to use it hands-off is to put a weight on the page you're referencing.
If you're looking for a great reference to use at home, this guide is hard to beat - in fact, I highly recommend it. However, look elsewhere for more useful star charts with deep sky objects to use in the field.
This is a field guide in the Peterson's traditional trim size, 7.2 x 4.6 inches. I got the distinct impression, many times, that a really knockout book with great design and photography was dying to break free of the unfortunate standard field-guide format. In Peterson's more mainstream guides, photos of scarlet tanagers or coral snakes look quite good; in fact, they're a point of pride. In this book, with the same sized page, the crab nebula looks disappointingly dim and incomplete, as do many other inter-stellar objects.
Perhaps the disappointing quality of many photos kept the book's editors from including more of them, because you will also encounter in this book pages and pages devoted to such technical information as sidereal rotation time, or comprehensive sky charts for all latitudes, for all year. The tenor of STARS AND PLANETS is heroic but ultimately disenchanting, especially factoring in its unforgiving soft cover. Ironically, these hurdles are redoubled in practical use since "in the field" for the amateur astronomer generally means in the dark. Don't crack that spine! Very frustrating.
Don't get me wrong: Peterson's guides on the whole are top-notch and I don't mind a little line extention: twelve years ago they did a very credible job on a field guide of railroad locomotives using standardized line drawings and specs for each entry. Obviously there are lots of reviewers here who love the book as it is; but there are lots of other books in the $12 to $25 range that IMHO may serve better.
Everyone seems to love that perennial (and newly updated) favorite, NIGHTWATCH: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO VIEWING THE UNIVERSE by Terence Dickinson. Dedicated stargazers will probably find THE NIGHT SKY COMPANION: A YEARLY GUIDE TO SKY-WATCHING 2008-2009 easier to reference. For a little more money the whiz-bang factor is extraordinarily high in the stouter and much thicker 300 ASTRONOMICAL OBJECTS: A VISUAL REFERENCE TO THE UNIVERSE by Jamie Wilkins and Robert Dunn. Although a mini by coffee-table standards, those photos look great in the more squarish shape, and there's a lot of state-of-the-art talk about how astronomers know the galaxy and what they are looking for next. Even ASTRONOMY FOR DUMMIES, while sorely in need of more color plating, shows what it shows well and is a good and patient guide, especially for the rookie. Very reasonably priced at Amazon, too. Try one of these instead, based on your starting point and intended goal. It's no great trick these days to call up online such eventual and vital technicalities as times of sunrise and sunset, declination, and sideral rotation.
An entire astronomy library packed into a single portable field guide, Jay Pasachoff's entry in the Peterson Field Guide series is a delightful introduction to, and reference for, the universe revealed in the night sky.
If you have any interest in astronomy at all, you can always find something in here to look at or just to sit and ponder about.
Besides the obvious things like monthly star charts for both northern and southern hemispheres, the book contains a complete 52 chart atlas of the sky put together by Wil Tirion with notes on objects in each chart, clever finder charts and tables for the planets for a ten year period, history and lore of the naming of the constallations, many, many photographs of astronomical objects taken by Hubble and other telescopes, an atlas of the moon, and many enlightening charts and tables of things like details of the brightest/nearest stars, the planets and their moons, and so on.
There's a section on each of the planets, and of course lots of coverage of the sun and eclipses of the sun and moon.
It always surprises me that this book doesn't seem to get as much respect in astronomical circles as I think it deserves. While you can certainly fill a library with astronomical books and atlases that are better than this field guide in any one area, you will not do better than this book in stuffing all of that information together in one "to go" package.
An excellent gift for a child starting to get interested in science and the world at large.
I could go on, but you should just buy the book and see for yourself :-)
A terrific introduction to astronomy that deserves a place in every star-gazer's library.