Archive for the “Recommended Reading” Category

Observing Handbook and Catalogue of Deep-Sky Objects This was one of the very first “serious” astronomy books I bought when I first got the Celestron Nexstar 11 GPS.  Initially, as I only used the Nexstar  for observing, the title of this book seemed relevant to my needs – yes I bought the book solely on the title!

When I received the book, I’ll be honest, I was very disappointed.  No colour pictures and the few black and white diagrams did not impress me, the book sat unused on my shelf for many months.

Fast-forward to when I started imaging seriously! Read the rest of this entry »

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I can state without reservation that this is the most beautiful and informative astronomy book I currently own, and I own quite a few!

But, what are the Arps? 

In 1966 Halton Arp published an atlas of 338 “Peculiar Galaxies”, that is galaxies possessing very strange shapes far removed from the typical spirals and ellipticals we are more familiar with. 

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The Steve O'Meara's Herschel 400 Observing GuideThe Herschel 400 is a list of 400 objects catalogued by the eighteenth century astronomers Caroline and William Herschel.

I put Caroline’s name first here because apparently she made a couple of new discoveries, that were not on Messier’s list, and this prompted William to start his own in-depth search for new “nebulae”.  Working together the search produced over 2,500 objects of which the most impressive 400 were chosen to create the Herschel 400 catalogue.  If you have exhausted the Messier and Caldwell catalogues, then the Herschel 400 may well be next on your list.

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Deep-Sky Wonders (Stargazing)Deep-Sky Wonders has been created by adapting the work of Walter Scott Houston from his Sky & Telescope articles over the years.  Unfortunately for us “Scotty” [as he was affectionately known] is no longer with us, the book was edited by Stephen James O’Meara who also works at Sky & Telescope.

Each chapter of the book covers a single month and includes descriptions [in beautiful prose] of a number of objects that, during the month, will be seen particularly well.  At the end of the each chapter is a very handy summary table that makes refering to the objects simplicity.  There is also an excellent Bibliography and Index.

But of course, there is a lot more to this superb book than just the chapters for each month.  “Scotty” really knew his way around the heavens and you will find, within these pages, objects you had not heard of before – I guarantee it.  Even if you consider yourself well-versed in the Heavens, I am sure that in Deep-Sky Wonders you will find new objects to view or photograph.

I would like to relate to you the “gem” I found in this book.   I wanted to image the Deep-Sky object nearest Polaris, and I asked on several astronomy forums “what Deep-Sky object lies nearest to Polaris?”  Now, not many people image near Polaris, so I didn’t get any useful answers back beyond what I already knew.  

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Deep-Sky Companions: Hidden Treasures (Deep Sky Companions) (Deep-Sky Companions)This is the third Stephen James O’Meara book in the Deep-Sky Companion series and it is the biggest and heaviest!

I had this one on pre-order with Amazon for over a year.  Twice the publication date was put back it seems – but the wait was well worth it.  It now sits proudly on my astronomy bookshelf.

With 584 high-quality pages you need to pick up this tome with both hands.  Again we have an Index (thank you Stephen) that was surprisingly absent in “The Messier Objects” and made its first appearance in “The Caldwell Objects”.   It is a similar format to the other two books with a nice Black and White image and a sketch of the object as seen by O’Meara through a small refractor.

This time there is an addition!  We also get a small star map of the region the object is located in for reference – a very useful and a very welcome addition.   Also, once again, the highly informative prose accompanies each object, and I really like the way O’Meara writes, so for me it adds a great deal to the enjoyment of the book.

A number of well-known and expected entries such as the Pac Man nebula, Kemble’s Cascade, and the Flame nebula – but a much larger number of nebulae, star clusters planetary nebulae and galaxies that I’d not heard of before.

None of the 109 “Hidden Treasures” are included in the Messier or Caldwell catalogues of course!  As a deep-sky imager this book has provided me with dozens of new exciting targets.

You simply must buy this book to complete the trilogy.  You can purchase this book from Amazon or any other good book dealer.

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Deep-Sky Companions: The Caldwell Objects (Deep-Sky Companions) (Deep-Sky Companions)This book starts with a foreword by Patrick Moore.  Why a foreword by Patrick Moore?  Because the Caldwell list is Patrick’s list – his full name being Patrick Caldwell-Moore, and he didn’t want to use the Moore (M) for fear of confusing with that other “M” list – the Messier objects.

This is the second contribution of Stephen James O’Meara to the Deep-Sky Companions series of books. 

When you have mastered the Messier catalogue, and it is time to move on to a new list of interesting Deep-Sky objects, the Caldwell catalogue is ready and waiting.  Another 109 fine objects to discover, with a major difference from the Messier catalogue – the Caldwell catalogue lists Southern Hemisphere objects as well. 

So if you live in the U.K., North America or Europe and you want to “bag” all the Caldwell objects, you’ll need to do some travelling. 

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Deep Sky Companions: The Messier Objects (Deep-sky Companions) (Deep-sky Companions) When you first start observing or imaging, the Messier list of objects is a very good place to start looking for nice deep-sky objects in the Northern Hemisphere.

Stephen James O’Meara has produced a beautiful reference work on the Messier objects in this “Deep Sky Companions” masterpiece.  Each Messier object is carefully described by Stephen as it appears to him through a modest refractor.  In addition, a very useful black and white photograph accompanies each object so you can be sure that you’re looking at the right thing.

I refer to this book [as well as Stephen's other 3 books that I will recommend] on an almost weekly basis.  Full of very useful information and background detail – very highly recommended!

You can purchase the book at Amazon or any other good book retailer.

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Cover Picture of the Book  If you are to explore the heavens – you need a good map to guide you.
In my opinion there is only one star atlas you need to consider, Will Tirion and Roger W. Sinnott’s “Sky Atlas 2000.0″. 

Be prepared, this is quite big when it comes through the post measuring some 30 x 42 cm!  Each page has large clear maps showing stars, clusters and nebulae.  A must have book

You can purchase the book at Amazon or any other good book retailer.

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