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Your First Astronomy Book: Still Have It?

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#1 DNTash



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Posted 23 September 2013 - 01:50 AM

I was wondering how many of us out there remember our first astronomy book, the one that turned us on to the hobby, and may still have a copy of that book handy?

I found my first astronomy book in a packing box the other day. "A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets" (1964), by Donald Menzel. It's full of photographic plates of the night sky, lots of great info, and a handful of black-and-white photos of nebulas and galaxies that made me wonder if I could ever even glimpse something so impressive. Wow - what we can do today. Who knew? I'm keeping it out and with me to remind me of how far we've come.

So, I'm interested in whether you remember that first astronomy book, and if you still have a copy with you somewhere.

And, if you have any thoughts on "The Book" of today that might have that "I'm hooked!" effect for those just getting into this wonderful hobby, feel free to share those thoughts as well. Clear skies, and happy reading!

#2 AlBoning


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Posted 23 September 2013 - 02:15 AM

I acquired that field guide back sometime in the early 80s and it was my first astronomy book. Two years ago I stumbled across it and was impressed by the positive and negative sky images on facing pages. So impressed was I that I began looking for something recent and similar ... "The Cambridge Photographic Star Altas" by Mellinger and Stoyan. Checking Amazon ... you can look inside and the second anniversary of the purchase is four days from now.

#3 beatlejuice  Happy Birthday!



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Posted 23 September 2013 - 02:22 AM

Yep, "The Stargazer's Bible" W.S.Kals(1980) still on my bookshelf. Covered a lot of ground in its 140 pages. Really managed to fill me with enthusiasm,well, like the title says, for stargazing.


#4 mayidunk


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Posted 23 September 2013 - 05:28 AM

Back when I was about 8 or 9 years old, I had a book entitled, "The Golden Picture Book of Our Sun, and the Worlds Around It," published in the late '50s. It was through reading this book that I learned about telescopes, how the seasons worked, the phases of the Moon, how the Moon and Sun affected the tides, the difference between meteors, meteorites, and asteroids, the names of the planets. It even showed me what a Blink Microscope was, and how it was used by Clyde Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory to finally detect Pluto. It even explained about the perturbations of Neptune's orbit, and how their observance led him, and others, to start looking for a planet further out! Just about everything about astronomy, and space flight, was covered in that skinny, little book! Unfortunately, it got lost in the ensuing years, but I always kept a fond remembrance of that book.

Fast forward close to 40 years. I was sitting in my Dentist's waiting room, looking through a pile of books that my Dentist had set out for the kids, when I suddenly discovered a copy of that very book sitting in the pile! I asked her if I could have it, and that I would gladly pay her for it. She said that, if I replaced it with another children's book, that I could have it!

And so here it sits on the table, next to my chair. After all of these years, to be able to browse through those pages once again is just amazing! After I post this message, it'll go right back on the shelf in the bookcase, where it will always have a home!

Simply amazing! :jump:

#5 csrlice12



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Posted 23 September 2013 - 07:34 AM

Don't even remember the title. It was a small, green hardcover with lots of star maps in it (Mostly reversed color, black background with white stars). I had checked it out of the library when my parents had gotten me a telescope for Christmas. Unfortunately, the dog ate it...literally, he chewed it up....

#6 Joe Aguiar

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 07:59 AM

yep night watch

#7 csa/montana


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Posted 23 September 2013 - 08:40 AM

Indeed I do have my first astronomy book; Nightwatch (1987 edition). This is the book that really got me into my love of astronomy!

#8 Feidb



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Posted 23 September 2013 - 08:42 AM

Yup. It came with my Sears 60mm refractor at Christmas 1966. Can't remember the title. I'm at work right now. It has a place of honor on the shelf. Crummy star charts and all. Thick and with a green cover.

#9 macpurity


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Posted 23 September 2013 - 08:55 AM

My first book would have to be H. A. Rey's The Stars, which I got for Christmas when I was about nine years old. My next book would be Olcott's field guide, followed by Menzel's. Of the three, I only have a copy of Olcott, which is a replacement copy. The oldest original book in my collection is a Fawcett book called Exploring Space with Astronomy. It dates from 1967 and has lots of my 11 year old notes in it.

#10 izar187



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Posted 23 September 2013 - 10:36 AM

Seasonal Star Charts. There have been editions by Hubbard(my original), Meade and Celestron. There's a table of which constellations the major planets are in from year to year, that's updated in more recent additions. Lists of targets within the constellation are on the pages opposite the charts.
Northern hemisphere only. Planisphere on the front cover. Very dew resistant.

Highly recommend it for those starting out. And for just leisurely wandering about on bright moonlit nights. Like last week.


#11 ensign


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Posted 23 September 2013 - 11:10 AM

There was a series of books by Arkady Leokum that I read when I was 6 or 7 (early 60s). I believe the series was called "Tell Me Why." In any case, it was in these pages that I first became fascinated with astronomy.

The books are probably in a landfill or have been recycled into who knows where. It was a great series. Treated kids with respect.

#12 Fuzzyguy


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Posted 23 September 2013 - 11:12 AM

Mine was the same DNTash, and yes, I still have it along with the very large NatGeo sky map. The map is coated to resist dew damage, but over the years being stored rolled up, I'm reluctant to unroll it as I'm concerned it will crack and break. Maps, books and atlases have come a long way since the mid 60's, but those two provided me a lot of nights of awe even with my 3" newt!

#13 mjs


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Posted 23 September 2013 - 11:15 AM

Weirdly, I do. It was a book titled "astronomy" in blue hard covers. I got it from a discount place when I was about 9 or so, which would put it ca. 1966 or thereabouts. It was discounted because the printing was off: much of the text looked like the printer had run out of ink but it was a lovely book, full of details and I believe it was intended as a first year astronomy course text.

Some time later I borrowed a telescope (a department store refractor) from a friend and was out in the front yard one night just poking around when I pointed it at a brighter than usual "star" and peered through the eyepiece to see a tiny but crystal clear Saturn. I was amazed to find that the pictures in the book were real! I pointed it at a crescent moon and it was real, too! Craters and moon-ish things, right there in my front yard! I had to preserve the moment (even then I realized that an observation wasn't "scientific" unless it was recorded,) so I ran inside, got my book and a pencil, and made sketches of Saturn and the Moon inside the front cover.

Fast forward to late teen years, I've graduated from high school and am moving into my own first apartment. Lots of kid stuff gets thrown away and a large pile of heavy books goes the local used book store for some extra cash.

Even later, years later. I'm married, got a kid and at a garage sale I spot a familiar shade of blue in a pile of books on a table. I pick it up and my sketches are inside the cover. I figure I'm supposed to keep it and so now I have (again) my own first astronomy book back!


#14 izar187



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Posted 23 September 2013 - 12:01 PM

Really cool. Cosmic too!

#15 Paul Lennous

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 01:07 PM

"Burnham's Celestial Handbook." I still have it. It may be outdated, but I highly doubt if anyone will ever come up with another book like it.

#16 dennilfloss



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Posted 23 September 2013 - 01:28 PM

NightWatch and I still have it. The Backyard Astronomer's Guide was my second book and this one I sold with my kit a few years ago. :)

#17 slarsson



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Posted 23 September 2013 - 01:45 PM

Patrick Moore: "The Observer's Book of Astronomy" (1962)

#18 beisenhauer


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Posted 23 September 2013 - 01:47 PM

"The Golden Book of Astronomy," late '50s. It belonged to my uncle when he was a kid, and I somehow inherited it. Now I read it to my son. (Though I find myself having to correct on-the-fly, and not just regarding Pluto's planetary status.)

#19 WarmWeatherGuy



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Posted 23 September 2013 - 02:56 PM

Norton's Star Atlas 16th edition (1973) is one of my earliest astronomy books that I can remember. I'm sure there were others as I was 19 in 1973 but this is one I still have. I learned a LOT from this book. I especially like all the facts about the sizes, distances, and timing of all the solar system objects.

There is another book I got years earlier (1962?), Facts and Figures, that I liked because it had astronomy data. But that is only covered by about 10% of the book.

#20 jgraham



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Posted 23 September 2013 - 08:01 PM

Oh yes, one of my prized possessions. Patrick Moore's "The Picture History of Astronomy," 1961.

#21 choran



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Posted 23 September 2013 - 08:47 PM

Ditto H.A. Rey's "The Stars". Still have it--wasn't that long ago that I bought it! I'm old, but new.

#22 Lancem


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Posted 23 September 2013 - 08:53 PM

I received my first copy of Nightwatch in 1986. I had Terry sign it at a star party a few years ago. I later purchased the Fourth Edition (2006). I still love the twenty sky charts in Nightwatch.

#23 Gil V

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 09:53 PM

The Sky Observer's Guide - 1971 printing. Yes, I still have it.

#24 bumm



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Posted 23 September 2013 - 10:14 PM

It isn't really a book, but I still have the "Star Explorer" planisphere I got at the museum in Lincoln Nebraska in 1957. Also, in 1956, LIFE Magazine came out with a book called "The World We Live In." I got the young reader's edition for my birthday and loved it. Still have it. It isn't an astronomy book either, but it has a section on the universe with wonderful illustrations, many by Chesley Bonestell.
Later, in the late 60's when I finally successfully learned the constellations, (with help from my 1957 planisphere,) I picked up the Menzel edition of Peterson's Field Guide. I spent hours and hours looking at those photographic charts in the daytime. :) I still pull out that book now and then because it has one of the clearest, simplest, sets of moon maps I've ever run across.

#25 SpaceConqueror3



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Posted 23 September 2013 - 10:50 PM

Oh yes, one of my prized possessions. Patrick Moore's "The Picture History of Astronomy," 1961.

Me too! But I received the 1973 Second Impressions Edition for Christmas along with an Edmund Scientific 3" Space Conqueror Reflector which I unfortunately no longer have.

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