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Observing the Moon: The Modern Astronomer's Guide 2nd Edition

3.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521874076
ISBN-10: 0521874076
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Science writer North is full of useful information for backyard astronomers who would like to move to the next level in their observations of the earth's satellite. He opens with description (phases and eclipses, gravity and the tides) and history ("the pioneering selenographers"). Sections on telescopes, cameras, and CCD astrocameras follow, along with a chapter on "the desktop moon." The book's longest chapter is North's "`A to Z' of Selected Lunar Landscapes," which displays, with discussion, in detail 48 specific areas of the moon's surface. North closes with the controversial subject of "Lunar Transient Phenomena." Key advantages of North's volume include its practical focus--e.g., lots of advice on the strengths and weaknesses of various types of equipment--and its mix of vivid photographs (from, among others, NASA) and clarifying maps and charts. A useful addition to libraries' astronomy collections. Mary Carroll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"He covers just about everything you need to get started including equipment, imaging, image manipulation, and more. It talks about what has been discovered and even more importantly it talks about lunar mysteries that remain still to be solved. It just might be enough to make one take the telescope out of the closet and embark on a lifetime of study." - Publisher Review, Books-On-Line

"...this book is a good friendly way to introduce amateurs to lunar observing..." --Journal of the British Astronomical Association

"Gerald North, an accomplished lunar scholar...is the author, or coauthor, of a number of texts on advanced amateur astronomy and observing techniques...This book is well produced and is a very useful, practical reference guide for the lunar observer, whether beginner or advanced. This delightful volume should inspire a new generation to the study of the Moon, Earth's long term companion in space." - John McFarland, Contemporary Physics, June 2013
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 422 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (July 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521874076
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521874076
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #976,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It is difficult to know what to say about this book. The author has invested much time in preparing it, and Cambridge has done an excellent job of reproducing the many fine drawings and photographs included. Yet it leaves me surprisingly flat; I suspect this is a book which will sit on my shelf rarely opened.
The book is strangely lopsided. Its longest and best section, fully half the book, is a set of detailed descriptions of forty-eight selected regions of the Moon, selected for their topographic variety and interest. Each region is illustrated by photographs and drawings under various illuminations, and North provides descriptive text and an at-the-eyepiece tutorial. The drawings are typical of the British school of lunar drawing: meticulous pen and ink drawings which are striking to look at, but so stylized as to bear little resemblance to what one sees through the eyepiece.
This massive descriptive section is preceded by seven short chapters to provide the reader, whom North typifies as an "interested amateur astronomer who is yet to become a lunar specialist," with the background necessary to begin observations of the Moon. After an introductory chapter, there are sections on the history of lunar observation, equipment and visual observation, photography, electronic imaging, the physical nature of the Moon, and reference sources. Following the large descriptive chapter, there is a chapter on transient lunar phenomena, obviously a subject dear to North's heart. Much of this material is superficial, but it is interlaced repeatedly with rather technical sections, almost as if the author wished to show off his scientific credentials.
When I initially started to read the book, I gravitated to the chapter on reference sources.
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Format: Hardcover
North is a respected person in the amateur lunar community. Given that, I can't help but wish this book could have been somehow better.
North starts out by giving a good account of the Moon itself, dealing with such concepts as gravity, tides, phases, libration, lunar coordinates, and occultations. He then goes forward to give a short account of pioneering lunar selenography. Then he goes onward with chapters dealing with drawing the Moon through a telescope and photographing the Moon with both cameras and CCDs. All of these chapters, while good, could have been more in depth, I think.
A (very) short chapter on the Moon as it is studied from the desktop is included. This so barely scratches the surface the chapter is easy to miss.
The largest portion of the book is a chapter (over 100 pages long) on selected lunar landscapes. This is a great part of the book and North does a great job with it. It seems the only part of the book that isn't cut short due to space considerations, but here more could possibly been done.
Finally, there is a short, but good chapter on Transient Lunar Phenomena, the subject that North has been working on for some years.
In the end, the most annoying part of the book for me was North saying again and again and AGAIN that "much more could be said about this, but I'm already over the page allotment that my publisher set." In the end, due to this, "Observing the Moon" is largely an average book...that has two GREAT books struggling to get out of it.
Want a first book on the Moon? You can start with this, but it will only whet your appetite for more...which may not be a bad thing.
Mr. North, I look forward to you working on the next version of this book.
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Format: Hardcover
North's very attractive book struck me less as a "good read" than as a useful reference for the amateur astronomer. The half of the book devoted to an "A-Z" of lunar landscapes in particular is quite good for this purpose -- if you've been out viewing the moon and are curious to know more about a particular feature, both the text and photographs are of value. I agree with a previous reviewer that this would have been better as two books. The overview chapters are well written but not of much value to the advanced astronomer; the information on CCDs, software etc. is likely to age pretty quickly. The info on transient lunar phenomena is interesting but not of much use unless you have a big 'scope. Still, as a reference book for lunar features I haven't seen much else that compares with it.
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Format: Paperback
I found the content most useful and practical. The writing style was different - most books dealing with astronomy tend to be dry and somewhat difficult to plaud through, I found the writing style to be engaging and an enjoyable learning experience.
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