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"Best" Binocular Observing Book?

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#1 Roger Corbett

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Posted 16 May 2015 - 08:14 AM

OK, "best" is highly subjective!

 

This is to be a gift for someone with decent binocs (maybe 16 x 70, but also 8 x 40).

 

i've seen mentioned binocular observing guides by Crossen, Harrington, Reynolds & Levy, Seronik, O'Meara, etc.

 

I'm looking for something that has observing tips, star hopping guides, a bit of science about the objects, realistic expectations, designed for beginners in astronomy, etc.  Also, good discussions and descriptions of the objects--that a mere mortal would see (O'Meara is super-human and sees things under dark Hawaiian skies or even suburban ones that most of the human race cannot!) (but maybe his binoc guide is different!)

 

in short, the ideal would be something like a Turn Left at Orion for binoculars!


Edited by Roger Corbett, 16 May 2015 - 08:16 AM.


#2 Tony Flanders

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Posted 16 May 2015 - 08:22 AM

OK, "best" is highly subjective!
 
This is to be a gift for someone with decent binocs (maybe 16 x 70, but also 8 x 40).


Any idea what kind of sky conditions this will be used in? How much you can see through a given instrument depends greatly on skill but even more on how dark your skies are.

Viewing all the Messier objects through 15x70 binoculars is a piece of cake under dark skies. But seeing any galaxies other than M31 is challenging from a typical suburb.

#3 TomCorbett

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Posted 16 May 2015 - 11:48 AM

Binocular Astronomy, 2nd ed. by Stephen Tonkin. He also has a website binocularsky.com, and an email newsletter. 



#4 edwincjones

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Posted 16 May 2015 - 01:05 PM

in addition to the book, I would also give

Orion's DeepMap600

 

edj


Edited by edwincjones, 16 May 2015 - 01:06 PM.


#5 HfxObserver

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Posted 16 May 2015 - 05:50 PM

I bought the Tonkin book but wasn't as much a fan of it as some. For me it is too descriptive of a simple assortment of objects compared to the Craig Crossen Binocular Astronomy widely available used, LINK, and goes into some interesting analysis of the night sky and the widefield usefullness of binoculars.

 

Touring the Universe Through Binoculars by Phil Harrington, who psots on here frequently:

 

http://www.philharrington.net/sw8.htm

 

If you want something desriptive as far as a basic list of good objects goes Binocular Highlights by Gary Seronik is hard to beat as it comes in a lay open flat design with charts and excellent charts descriptions.

 

-Chris


Edited by HfxObserver, 16 May 2015 - 08:08 PM.


#6 Jerlogan

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Posted 16 May 2015 - 05:59 PM

Craig Crossen, Binocular Astronomy, 2nd Edition. Not so much about binoculars; more about celestial objects. Includes good basic star chart in addition to finder charts for the objects. Very good on structure of our galaxy and locations of galactic objects.



#7 HfxObserver

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Posted 16 May 2015 - 08:07 PM

The Second Edition may be "unauthorized".

 

http://www.cloudynig...second-edition/

 

A great book with a focus on objects and using small inexpensive binoculars.

 

-C



#8 Jerlogan

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Posted 17 May 2015 - 01:01 PM

The Second Edition may be "unauthorized".

 

http://www.cloudynig...second-edition/

 

A great book with a focus on objects and using small inexpensive binoculars.

 

-C

Yes, waited 6 years for an "authorized" second edition including 2 years beyond the "essentially finished" 2012 announcement. I think the official 2nd edition will probably be great - but the unofficial 2nd edition is better than the 1st - and it's available.



#9 Crossen

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Posted 08 June 2015 - 12:32 PM

 

The Second Edition may be "unauthorized".

 

http://www.cloudynig...second-edition/

 

A great book with a focus on objects and using small inexpensive binoculars.

 

-C

Yes, waited 6 years for an "authorized" second edition including 2 years beyond the "essentially finished" 2012 announcement. I think the official 2nd edition will probably be great - but the unofficial 2nd edition is better than the 1st - and it's available.

 

Yes, the text of the authorized 2nd edition was finished by the end of 2012.  But that was the easy part.  What was going to follow was the hard work of selecting and processing photos for the book, designing line-drawing illustrations and finder charts as well as a whole new atlas for the back, proof-reading, editing, compilation of an index, etc.  Even given the fact that the photos, charts, and illustrations were going to be done by other people (Gerald Rhemann had agreeed to provide all the photos I would need for the book), this was going to be an awful lot of work, and since then I simply have not had the time because of all the academic publishing and English language tutoring I have had to do here in Vienna: I  can't keep up with it.

 

However, I nevertheless would make the time to finished an authorized 2nd edition of Binocular Astronomy except for two things.  First, when the original 1st edition of Binocular Astronomy was published, there was only one other full-length binocular observing guide on the market, Phil Harrington's Touring the Universe with Binoculars, and Phil's book is so different from mine that we can hardly be called competitors:  our two books appeal to completely different  sorts of readers and observers.  However, now, two decades later, the market is crowded with binocular observing guides, most of which (in my not unbiased opinion) are not very good.  It is a saturated market.

 

Second is the baleful influence of the internet.  If you do a search on the internet for a specific object--say NGC 6231 in Scorpius--you will find literally hundreds of results covering everything from the cluster's appearance in binoculars and telescopes to astrophysical studies of it.  But it is open to question how useful this pile of unconsolidated, undigested, unsynthesized data is to the average amateur astronomer:  it's like having a heap of bricks dumped onto your front yard, and you're left with the job of building the house yourself.  Unfortunately, from what I've seen and heard (especially on CN forums), many amateurs are content with this:  more than once I've seen comments of the type "Why buy a book when you can get so much information from the internet?"  It's hard to judge how many amateurs have this opinion; but it too is a factor in my decision to hold off with the 2nd edition of Binocular Astronomy for the present, given the fact that I have interesting alternative projects.  For the moment I will continue to publish articles, not books.  The text I have prepared for an authorized 2nd edition of Binocular Astronomy--especially the material on constellation history, which is from my own original research--is not going to go out of date soon anyway.

 

Craig Crossen



#10 HfxObserver

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Posted 08 June 2015 - 08:24 PM

Hello Craig,

 

Thank you for the detailed reply, Binocular Astronomy remains one of my favourite texts as it grows with the observer.  Whenever I begin planning a new observing project I learn something new from your work and often use this information as a starting point to hit the journals, so for me such works only enhance the ability to do my own research but the internet does not replace buying good books. Many of us are not content with mediocrity or superficial web searches and, as recent text such as the re-print of Barnard's Selected Regions and Steinicke's Observing and Cataloguing Nebula and Star Clusters, there remains a palate for quailty amature astronomy texts.

 

Hopefully there will be a time when you are able to complete this 2nd ed. as I would look forward to your material on the constellation history as well as up-to-date images.

 

All the best,

 

Chris



#11 Traveler

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 10:53 PM

 

If you want something desriptive as far as a basic list of good objects goes Binocular Highlights by Gary Seronik is hard to beat as it comes in a lay open flat design with charts and excellent charts descriptions.

 

-Chris

 

+1 Very practical guide in the field.

 

It would be very nice if Gary Seronik make a Volume 2 of this book. (but that is an another subject).



#12 MeridianStarGazer

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 11:20 PM

If you have low power binoculars, you don't need a book. You just look around. Books are more important for high power, where there are 100,000+ fields of view in the sky, but only parts that look more interesting at that power. For big binoculars, I would look for M objects whose magnitude, declination, and angular size are a close fit for your aperture, location and magnification.



#13 Man in a Tub

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 11:54 PM

If you have low power binoculars, you don't need a book...

 

Fortunately for binocular enthusiasts, Craig Crossen, Phil Harrington, Stephen James O'Meara, Gary Seronik and other writers secured their reputations and usefulness before you came along.



#14 Traveler

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 12:22 AM

:funny:



#15 MeridianStarGazer

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 12:52 AM

Well, for a hemisphere, there are 1355 15x70 Skymaster fields of view, now that I did the math. So, I guess having a book would narrow down the best ones. For a 7x35, you probably have 300 fields of view, making it a bit more possible to find a good area if you keep sweaping around. However, even if a 15x70 swept over M13, I'm sure it could be missed. So get the book.



#16 GlennLeDrew

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 07:56 AM

There's a whole lot more to even basic observing of celestial objects than merely aimless sweeping up. Operating in a vacuum, one can mostly guess at the nature of what is seen. Is that little fuzzball a galaxy, a nebula or a compact star cluster? That's fine if emulating pioneers such as Galileo, Messier or Herschel is the aim. Or if one is satisfied with little more than the sights themselves--which is perfectly legitimate.

But the knowledge-hungry, or those who want to probe deeper and pick up more than blind sweeping can reveal, or those who have limited time to invest, can/will benefit from a guide of some sort.

#17 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 10:07 AM

There's a whole lot more to even basic observing of celestial objects than merely aimless sweeping up. Operating in a vacuum, one can mostly guess at the nature of what is seen. Is that little fuzzball a galaxy, a nebula or a compact star cluster? That's fine if emulating pioneers such as Galileo, Messier or Herschel is the aim. Or if one is satisfied with little more than the sights themselves--which is perfectly legitimate.

But the knowledge-hungry, or those who want to probe deeper and pick up more than blind sweeping can reveal, or those who have limited time to invest, can/will benefit from a guide of some sort.

 

I enjoy just looking around but when I find something, it doesn't end there, it work backwards, figure out exactly what it was I found.. 

 

 And too, observing is like fishing.. it really helps to know where the fish are and what kind of fish are there as well as how to catch them.  A book makes a good guide. You can cast your worm all over the lake and think there are no fish to be caught.  Just looking around, you don't necessarily see what there is to be seen..  Looking at NGC6572 at low magnifications, one would never suspect it was any more than a star.

 

Jon



#18 KennyJ

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 05:27 PM

I suppose someone just has to say it, and on this occasion it's me!

 

I feel honoured that no less than the knowledgable and talented Craig Crossen himself has taken the time and trouble to contribute to this thread, and more than slightly embarrassed by the initial response from another member, who shall remain nameless.

 

Kenny




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