Home / 2014 RASC Observer's Handbook
by Tom Trusock 01/31/14 | Email Author
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2013 RASC Observers Handbook
The 2014 version of the
Royal Astronomical Society of Canada's Observer Handbook
(now in it's 106th year of publication) has been out for a
month or so. While the format and much material has been
carried over from past years, there are several bits that
are either new or revised.
As one would expect, all of the date/specific pieces of
information have been updated to reflect the new year
while some articles have been revised significantly.
Namely Telescope Parameters, Galaxies Nearest and
Brightest, and Radio Astronomy with Radio Sources.
In addition as has been the trend, you'll find some
new content here as well. Two new articles: Observing
Artificial Satellites by Paul D Maley, and Astronomical
Precession by David G Turner and Roy L. Bishop both make
their appearances. In addition you'll find a an article
titled: Featured Constellation: Auriga by Chris Beckett.
Also one should note, there are a (very) few articles (or
tables) that no longer appear: Amateur Supernova Hunting,
and the Table of Precession for Advancing 50 Years.
While the purpose/general content of the book has not seen
a major change observers who found the time specific data
of use will certainly want to upgrade.
Like it's predecessor, the 2014 RASC Observer's Handbook
is a labor of love and should have a place on every
serious amateurs bookshelf (or stowed away in the backseat
of your truck).
BTW - If the the Observer's Handbook is new to you or
you're wondering what the fuss is all about, then you
might want to continue on to read my post on last year's
If youíre looking for a must have
astronomical reference for the upcoming year, look no
further than the Royal Astronomical Society of Canadaís
Observerís Handbook. Now in itís 105th year of publication
(yeah, you read that right), itís long been regarded as
the standard annual sky reference.
Wondering when twilight ends? Astronomical, Civilian or
Nautical? Curious as to when the moon will set next
Thursday? What to know what eclipses and transits are
coming up? What constellation to look for Ceres in? Hint Ė
itís visible in the first part of this year. When the best
meteor showers of the year are going to be (and specific
times and moon phases for each?), got a hankering to know
where IO is tonight? Or just want to know what events are
happening this month? Youíll find this data, and much much
Donít think that itís only good for one year though Ė the
book is really a bookshelf reference for both time variate
and invariate data. Featuring articles from Jay Anderson
on the Frequency of Nighttime Cloud Cover (unfortunately
only for April/May and July/August) to Alan Whitman on
Southern Hemisphere Splendors, youíll find topics ranging
through nearly every aspect of amateur astronomy, along
with basic moon and sky maps. While the nature of the book
tends to mean that these are not in-depth end all
explanation for topics like astrophotography, these short
informative articles provide a good starting point often
with follow up references.
Itís also of great assistance to those of us who like
working through observing lists. A sampling shows that
Alan Dyer provides a couple of great references for the
Messiers (like a seasonal listing) and his article The
Finest NGC Objects is a great jumping off point for those
who have already finished the Messiers, and are looking
for something just a little different. If youíre looking
for a real challenge, you might try Dyer and Lingís
Deep-Sky Challenge Objects. While they recommend a minimum
aperture telescope, they also encourage observers to try
with a smaller one. Paul Gray contributes a list of Dark
Nebulae, Chris Beckett some Wide-Field Wonders, and David
Levy a list of 154 Deep-Sky Gems.
Youíll also find moon rise and set times, occultation
maps, as well as a map of North American impact sites.
Honestly itís impossible to detail the level of data
available in this book.
In the age of smartphones, thereís a tendency to assume we
already have this information at our fingertips (via apps
or the internet), and while we do have a lot of it there
for the calling (um, so to speak), there are some major
advantages to having it all compiled into a handy printed
reference. Books never run out of battery, and they donít
tend to ruin your night vision like an electric device.
Oh, and all the books Iíve had over the years I have yet
to experience one that randomly crashes or reboots. On the
other hand, there are some advantages to e-book, and it
would be wonderful to have a copy of this on my phone.
Perhaps next year.
Perfect for your bathroom, study the observatory or just
to store in the center console of your truck, the
Observerís Handbook is a one of a kind resource that every
amateur should have at their fingertips. My
recommendation? Just get it. And sooner rather than later.