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General Astronomy >> Beginners Forum

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Tony Flanders
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Re: Your First Astronomy Book: Still Have It? new [Re: DNTash]
      #6099902 - 09/25/13 08:26 AM

Quote:

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.




As it happens, that same 1964 edition of the Peterson Field Guide is the first book I ever used successfully as a practical observing guide. It's sitting in my bookshelf at work as I type this. (I work at Sky & Telescope.)

However, I was certainly psyched about astronomy in the abstract long before that. I think that most children -- and almost all boys -- go through a planets phase just as they go through a dinosaur phase.

The book I remember best -- which I also still own, though not here, so I can't remember the exact title -- was a book about the planets by Roy A. Gallant. Beautifully illustrated in the Bonestell style, and filled with the best scientific information of its day.


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Bill Hannum
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Re: Your First Astronomy Book: Still Have It? new [Re: jgraham]
      #6105715 - 09/28/13 11:02 AM

I was fortunate enough to discover "Burnham's Celestial Handbook" very early on. It is a treasure. I will always keep it. As a scientific work, much of the information has since been updated (Copyright 1978), but as an observing companion, it remains to be transcendent. It captures both the human, and practical aspects of the wonders in the heavens. I wish someone would update the entire work. Any takers?

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FeynmanFan
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Re: Your First Astronomy Book: Still Have It? new [Re: Bill Hannum]
      #6106710 - 09/28/13 10:56 PM

I believe mine was called the Golden Book of Astronomy, bought for me for Christmas 1956. I had it for years, but at some point during my Zen period, I decided to divest myself of it. Now, during my nostalgic period, I wish I had it back.

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Crossen
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Re: Your First Astronomy Book: Still Have It? new [Re: BigC]
      #6107529 - 09/29/13 01:30 PM

Quote:

Little Golden Guides "Stars" from the 1970s;it was the only star book at the local "drugstore/newstand/camera shop/moped dealer/chainsaw dealer/CB radio,scanners, and computer store".You get the idea the owner,Mr. Ullrich, tried to meet a lot of smalltown needs?Also got my first binoculars there,a pair of 10x50s which fell apart within a day or to and Mr. Ullrich simply took them back and handed me a 20x50 Selsi which I still have and use 37 years later.Still have the Golden Guide book too.I think they were wonderful little books to get one started ,and there were guides about many other topics. Also bought the Golden Guide to Weather ;real useful in determining which kind of cloud is preventing stargazing.




In September 1963 the 8th grade Science teacher, Mr. Skavnak, announced that he accepted extra credit projects. This awakened a long-dormant interest in the stars in me and I thought to myself, "I would like to do something on astronomy." So I went to the high school library, looked over their astronomy books, and picked out the Golden Nature Guide "Stars." It was the newest edition, in hardcover, and I was the first to sign it out. The first clear night after full moon, October 6, 1963, I took this copy of "Stars" out with a flashlight into the south hayfield and began tracing the constellations--Ursa Minor, Ursa Major, Draco, Hercules, Lyra. At that point the gibbous moon rose in the ENE. But I was hooked on astronomy forever. (The 50th anniversary of that memorable night in my life comes next week.)

In February 1982, almost 20 years later, my former 10th grade English teacher, Mrs. Erickson, invited me to speak to her 8th grade English classes about the star myths of the ancient Greeks as part of her section on Greek mythology. By now the community had built a new high school and this old building was the junior high. I went to the library to see what astronomy books they had that I could recommend and discovered that they now had TWO copies of "Stars"--including the original one I had signed out in September 1963! I took it to the office and swung a deal with the Junior High Principal: this old copy of "Stars" for a brand-new astronomy book of the same level. (It was Robin Kerrold's "Stars and Planets.") That book was on my desk that May (1982) when I wrote what would be my first published astronomy article.

I still have the book. It's not with me here, but back in the States in very good hands against my return. BigC is right on the mark about "Stars" in particular and the Golden Nature Guides in general: "They were wonderful little books to get one started."


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la200o
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Re: Your First Astronomy Book: Still Have It? new [Re: DNTash]
      #6107598 - 09/29/13 02:08 PM

"The New Handbook of the Heavens." Came with my 3" Edmund Scientific Newtonian, bought in about 1961 for, I think, 30 bucks. The book (and the telescope) have long since vanished, but now and then I see a copy of the book and have pang of nostalgia.

Bill


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SteveNH
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Re: Your First Astronomy Book: Still Have It? new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #6108021 - 09/29/13 07:00 PM Attachment (3 downloads)

Quote:

As it happens, that same 1964 edition of the Peterson Field Guide is the first book I ever used successfully as a practical observing guide. It's sitting in my bookshelf at work as I type this.


That same book (1964 edition "Field Guide to the Stars") inspired my friend and I in eighth grade to borrow my father's 35mm camera and start shooting my first star fields similar to the ones in the book, especially page 158, which displayed the exciting smudge of M31 and its exact location on a negative plate of that region.
Quote:

In September 1963 the 8th grade Science teacher, Mr. Skavnak, announced that he accepted extra credit projects. This awakened a long-dormant interest in the stars in me and I thought to myself, "I would like to do something on astronomy." So I went to the high school library, looked over their astronomy books, and picked out the Golden Nature Guide "Stars." It was the newest edition, in hardcover, and I was the first to sign it out. The first clear night after full moon, October 6, 1963, I took this copy of "Stars" out with a flashlight into the south hayfield and began tracing the constellations--Ursa Minor, Ursa Major, Draco, Hercules, Lyra. At that point the gibbous moon rose in the ENE. But I was hooked on astronomy forever. (The 50th anniversary of that memorable night in my life comes next week.)

In February 1982, almost 20 years later, my former 10th grade English teacher, Mrs. Erickson, invited me to speak to her 8th grade English classes about the star myths of the ancient Greeks as part of her section on Greek mythology. By now the community had built a new high school and this old building was the junior high. I went to the library to see what astronomy books they had that I could recommend and discovered that they now had TWO copies of "Stars"--including the original one I had signed out in September 1963! I took it to the office and swung a deal with the Junior High Principal: this old copy of "Stars" for a brand-new astronomy book of the same level. (It was Robin Kerrold's "Stars and Planets.") That book was on my desk that May (1982) when I wrote what would be my first published astronomy article.



Great story - happy to hear you actually got the original book back.

A few years before the field guide was my actual first book, the Golden Nature Guide "Stars" by Zim and Baker, which I repeatedly read cover to cover, especially enjoying the colorful Herzsprung-Russel and constellation diagrams. I tried to memorize the constellations by making 2x2 cardboard slides of each one, poking various sized holes in the cardboard where the stars would be, and projected them in the living room with my dad's slide projector. The funky drawing of the guy grinding the mirror on page 9 inspired me to pursue mirror making. I still have those books (and even a few of those slides - I was 11 at the time, summer of 1963).

Steve


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MDB
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Re: Your First Astronomy Book: Still Have It? new [Re: SteveNH]
      #6108225 - 09/29/13 09:17 PM

December 1965, I purchased Planet Earth by Karl Stumpff. During Christmas vacation of my sophomore year in high school and a 250 mile road trip with my older brother to visit the Hansen Planetarium in Salt Lake City, Utah. I purchased the book at the planetarium and I still have it. From it I learned about Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion, early astronomers and telescopes.

Mike


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David PavlichAdministrator
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Re: Your First Astronomy Book: Still Have It? new [Re: MDB]
      #6108326 - 09/29/13 10:19 PM

When I decided to buy a scope to replace my 60mm Meade, the first book I bought was Star Ware by Phil Harrington. It's still in the bookcase.

David


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T1R2
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Re: Your First Astronomy Book: Still Have It? new [Re: David Pavlich]
      #6108677 - 09/30/13 04:39 AM Attachment (6 downloads)

this is my first astronomy book, it is a second edition from 1983 I later got my red tasco to go along with it, it sold for 12.95 and my mother was not happy about that, it was on the expensive list, but as you can see she surrendered...lol

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epee
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Re: Your First Astronomy Book: Still Have It? new [Re: T1R2]
      #6109054 - 09/30/13 10:58 AM

I believe the first I owned was The Golden Nature Guide "Stars" (I loved those Golden Nature Guide books and still have a few that I've pasted on to my kids).

The oldest still in my possession, and one of the first I ever owned, is "The Amateur Astronomer's Handbook by James Muirden"; the equipment descriptions are very dated but the observational points still hold up.


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SteveNH
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Re: Your First Astronomy Book: Still Have It? new [Re: epee]
      #6109121 - 09/30/13 11:44 AM

Quote:

The oldest still in my possession, and one of the first I ever owned, is "The Amateur Astronomer's Handbook by James Muirden"; the equipment descriptions are very dated but the observational points still hold up.



Such a nostalgic name! I got his "The Pan Book of Astronomy" in the late 60's. It was filled with great info and I used it as my quick reference encyclopedia for astronomy. He had strong convictions of what constituted proper observing equipment for amateur astronomy at the time, some of which I ignored (and later found I was glad I did).

Steve


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hottr6
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Re: Your First Astronomy Book: Still Have It? new [Re: DNTash]
      #6109477 - 09/30/13 03:35 PM Attachment (3 downloads)

I still have my first books..... all inscribed 1968. The first was the little $0.25 Rigby's book that my mother bought for me from a book rack at the supermarket..... she used to shut me up with books, not sweets.

Great little book, but insufficient for an insatiably curious youngster..... so a trip into Sydney to check out the biggest bookseller in Australia at the time... Dymocks on George St. The second book by Orr was the only one I could afford.....

During the year I picked up 2 issues of S&T, and that is where I learned about Norton's Star Atlas. I asked for one for Xmas... I have no idea how and where my parents found one. I'd say they were pretty resourceful.

I still use that Norton's today, but my PST gets more use.


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esd726
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Re: Your First Astronomy Book: Still Have It? new [Re: T1R2]
      #6109579 - 09/30/13 04:31 PM

Quote:

this is my first astronomy book, it is a second edition from 1983 I later got my red tasco to go along with it, it sold for 12.95 and my mother was not happy about that, it was on the expensive list, but as you can see she surrendered...lol




I remember that book


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Crossen
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Re: Your First Astronomy Book: Still Have It? new [Re: SteveNH]
      #6109759 - 09/30/13 06:25 PM

Quote:


A few years before the field guide was my actual first book, the Golden Nature Guide "Stars" by Zim and Baker, which I repeatedly read cover to cover, especially enjoying the colorful Herzsprung-Russel and constellation diagrams.
Steve




My favorite constellation diagram in "Stars" was (and is) that of Scorpius, on which are plotted (though not labelled) the open clusters M6 and M7 in the Tail of Scorpius and the globulars M4 and M80 near Antares. This makes the constellation look very rich in interesting things (which it of course is). I started constellation tracing in October so I had to wait until late April to see Scorpius. My first view of it was of the arc of three stars that mark its Head ascending in the SE from behind some distant severe thunderstorms. In a little while Antares could be seen through the cirrus deck of the storms. It was a magnificent light show.

I also was especially intrigued by the chart of the south circumpolar constellations in "Stars". It's a beautiful chart: a deep blue or violet background with the Milky Way and Magellanic Clouds a powder blue, and lots of 1st magnitude stars, and constellations with exotic southern names. It gave me a fascination for the southern skies that has lasted to this day, though I've never had the opportunity to actually see the south circumpolar heavens.

I think the constellation lines in "Stars" are excellent because they're simple and straightforward and don't use a lot of 4th mag stars. For a complete novice out under a really dark sky the simplest constellation lines using only the brightest stars is best. It's amazing how star-rich a really dark sky can be.


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hm insulators
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Re: Your First Astronomy Book: Still Have It? new [Re: Chris Greene]
      #6113047 - 10/02/13 12:28 PM

Quote:

Actually, I do! All About the STARS by Anne Terry White from 1954. My grandparents subscribed us to the All About books and I still have a few from the early 60's.

I also have my original Menzel Field Guide like the OP and that's the book that really taught me the night sky. In college, in 1977, my astronomy professor used George Abell's Realm of the Universe and it's the only college text book I saved.




I had All About the Stars too! It, along with a smaller book called The Sun, the Moon and the Stars originally belonged to my brother and I inherited them in the late '60s when he outgrew them. Those were my first astronomy books.


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hm insulators
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Re: Your First Astronomy Book: Still Have It? new [Re: Crossen]
      #6113106 - 10/02/13 12:57 PM

Quote:

Quote:


A few years before the field guide was my actual first book, the Golden Nature Guide "Stars" by Zim and Baker, which I repeatedly read cover to cover, especially enjoying the colorful Herzsprung-Russel and constellation diagrams.
Steve




My favorite constellation diagram in "Stars" was (and is) that of Scorpius, on which are plotted (though not labelled) the open clusters M6 and M7 in the Tail of Scorpius and the globulars M4 and M80 near Antares. This makes the constellation look very rich in interesting things (which it of course is). I started constellation tracing in October so I had to wait until late April to see Scorpius. My first view of it was of the arc of three stars that mark its Head ascending in the SE from behind some distant severe thunderstorms. In a little while Antares could be seen through the cirrus deck of the storms. It was a magnificent light show.

I also was especially intrigued by the chart of the south circumpolar constellations in "Stars". It's a beautiful chart: a deep blue or violet background with the Milky Way and Magellanic Clouds a powder blue, and lots of 1st magnitude stars, and constellations with exotic southern names. It gave me a fascination for the southern skies that has lasted to this day, though I've never had the opportunity to actually see the south circumpolar heavens.

I think the constellation lines in "Stars" are excellent because they're simple and straightforward and don't use a lot of 4th mag stars. For a complete novice out under a really dark sky the simplest constellation lines using only the brightest stars is best. It's amazing how star-rich a really dark sky can be.




I never owned that book, but I was always checking it out from the Palm Crest Elementary School library. This was in the early 1970s. And when it wasn't Stars, it was Weather (same author, same publisher, same general layout of the book).

And I do remember that "funky" illustration of the guy grinding the mirror. Funny the things you remember!


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epee
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Re: Your First Astronomy Book: Still Have It? new [Re: SteveNH]
      #6114686 - 10/03/13 08:17 AM

Quote:


Such a nostalgic name! I got his "The Pan Book of Astronomy" in the late 60's. It was filled with great info and I used it as my quick reference encyclopedia for astronomy. He had strong convictions of what constituted proper observing equipment for amateur astronomy at the time, some of which I ignored (and later found I was glad I did).

Steve




He certainly did! Of course when he was writing reflector coatings only lasted a scant few years. He was also very big about "serious" observation. I am a complete dilettante by his critria and should donate my stuff to someone who'll put it to proper use...

When I was in middle school our library was clearing out old books and seeing one on amateur astronomy I snatched it up. The charts were usable but the book was published before World War One! It addresses using "opera glasses" and claw-foot table mounts and had a photograph of the "Great Spiral Nebula" in Andromeda.

Edited by epee (10/03/13 08:23 AM)


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PhilCo126
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Re: Your First Astronomy Book: Still Have It? new [Re: epee]
      #6114966 - 10/03/13 11:31 AM

I probably have

My "Mars-related" books:
http://mars-literature.skynetblogs.be/

Observatoria related books:
http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbarchive/showflat.php/Cat/0/Board/Observatory/N...


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BrooksObs
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Re: Your First Astronomy Book: Still Have It? new [Re: PhilCo126]
      #6115222 - 10/03/13 01:39 PM

As with a couple of other posters here, my first astronomy book was "Stars" by Herbert S. Zim. I still have my original copy tucked away, which I had obtained in 1953.

A relatively simple guide, as has been cited above its charts did denote a handful of the Messier objects which I enthusiastically perused. It also first awakened my interest in comets, although its discussion of these amounted to only two small pages. The little included illustration of the Great September Comet of 1882 particularly caught my imagination and spurring me to both observe hundreds of comets subsequently and to write countless articles concerning them that have been published in S&T over the past 40+ years.

BrooksObs

Edited by BrooksObs (10/03/13 01:44 PM)


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rtomw77
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Re: Your First Astronomy Book: Still Have It? new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #6116438 - 10/04/13 12:44 AM

Astronomy, a history of man's investigation of the universe by Fred Hoyle from 1962. I bought it for $4.00 off the bargain table of a book store. That was a lot of money for me, but I love that book. Its a bit torn up but I'll keep it for ever.

Tom


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