- Paperback: 1156 pages
- Publisher: Sky Publishing; Slp edition (May 1, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1931559279
- ISBN-13: 978-1931559270
- Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 4 x 13.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,725,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Millennium Star Atlas: An All-Sky Atlas Comprising One Million Stars to Visual Magnitude Eleven from the Hipparcos and Tycho Catalogues and Ten Thousand Nonstellar Objects Slp Edition
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One of the great virtues of this atlas is the way the charts are arranged. In other atlases, (e.g. Uranometria, Tirion's Sky Atlas 2000.0, Pyotr Breck's Atlas), the charts are arranged in ascending order of Right Ascension; sounds logical, but, when you get to the right side of the chart, instead of flipping to the next chart, as you would in a traditional road atlas, you have to go to the previous chart! Also, when you get to the lest side of the page, instead of flipping to the previous page, you must turn to the following page. (I can see what inspired Leslie Peltier, as he reports in his book STARLIGHT NIGHTS, to memorize his star charts!) In the MILLENNIUM STAR ATLAS, the charts are arranged in descending order of right ascension, so this inconvenience is resolved.
I hope this fine atlas will come back in print, although I can see why it won't.
Each of the three volumes covers one gore (strip of sky from pole to pole) of 8 hours of right ascension. This arrangment has the advantage of keeping the part of the sky visible at a given time in the same volume.
Roll the drums! Write the headline: someone in the star atlas business actually gets the message. Sequencing charts in ascending right ascension is backwards. After decades of frustration, users finally have an atlas with charts sequenced in descending order of right ascension. One has to try it both ways to appreciate the difference. In atlases with north at the top and charts in ascending order, users are constantly fighting against their instinct as to which way to turn the page on reaching the edge of a chart. But in the Millennium, the user who reaches the right edge of a chart simply continues rightward to the next page; from the left edge, leftward to the previous page. This arrangement makes navigating the charts so intuitive that within the gore the numbers of adjacent charts at the left and right edges are unnecessary and have been omitted. Atlas writers who unthinkingly follow the tradition of ordering charts in ascending right ascension should take note.
Charts are clear and detailed without being crowded. Top and bottom of each page give the numbers of the adjacent charts; this greatly simplifies navigating through the atlas. A minor complaint is that adjacent chart information does not extend to charts in other volumes. Charts at the edges of a gore should say at their edges something like "Continues on Vol II Chart 235."
A measure of how good this atlas is is that other suggestions for improvement are merely speculative. The charts could maybe be bigger to cover more area and simplify navigation, maybe like the Sky Atlas 2000.0, but would bigger pages make the atlas awkward to use? Would they make it impracticable to print charts on both sides of the page? Numbered tabs for quick chart access are helpful, but are they practicable for an atlas which contains so many pages? Would tabs every 25 to 50 pages be helpful? Hard to say.
What is not hard to say is that this atlas is a superbly useful work.
It works nicely in combination with the Pocket Sky Atlas. Use the Pocket for quick basic finding and the Millennium for going deep in pursuit of the challenging stuff.
The binding and paper are of superb quality, sufficient for this atlas to actually be used out in the field! Unfortunately, after you see how pretty it is (and remember how much it cost), you'll probably be content to let it sit safely on the shelf to be used as a reference. Personally, I use an 8" Dob and hence generally observe objects bright enough for Tirion's Sky Atlas 2000.0 to be an adequate atlas. I have taken the MSA out a couple times but it was overkill.
For owners of larger scopes who wish to go after the fainter DSOs, a Mag 11 atlas like the MSA is a bare minimum. A computer atlas going down to Mag 13 or so would be even better, but if you like paper then the MSA is the way to go. I eventually do plan to make heavy use of the MSA out in the field, but probably not until I get a larger scope.
The closest competition to the MSA is Tirion's Uranometria 2000.0 2nd Edition. Note that although it doesn't plot anywhere near the number of stars the MSA does, Uranometria plots three times the number of deep sky objects (30,000). Therefore, owners of very large telescopes may be better served with Uranometria since it plots the very faint DSOs that MSA skips.