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What book(s) got you started in astronomy?

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#76 Rick Woods

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Posted 01 June 2016 - 08:23 PM

 

[2] Backyard Astronomy by Alan MacRobert. These are monthly articles from the pages of Sky & Telescope magazine, which were published in ~12 installments. Later it was published as a book: Star-Hopping for Backyard Astronomers. I still love these two books, which are very good for a beginner to get feet wet. :)

 

Alan MacRobert's book teaches astronomy the old-fashioned way. He stresses on "Read, read, read!" “Astronomy is a learning hobby … self-education is something you do yourself, with books, using the library.” "Learn the sky with the naked eye. Learn the starry names and patterns overhead.” He also says don’t rush to buy a telescope.

 

 

I love that book! It's a crime that it was allowed to go out of print. I bugged MacRobert for several years about a sequel, but he said it had just dropped off the radar and probably wouldn't be happening. So I made copies of all the "Backyard Astronomy" columns that weren't in the book, and made my own sequel. I still miss his column, which was the first thing I'd turn to when S&T would come. They've never really equaled it, IMO.


Edited by Rick Woods, 01 June 2016 - 08:24 PM.

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#77 CounterWeight

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Posted 04 June 2016 - 09:53 AM

For me it was a little red cloth cover bound book (from dad's bookshelf or was part of a small library we inherited) by Herman Bondi  titled "The Universe at Large", part of the 'Science Study Series' - this one published in 1960.  Next to the circle logo for the series it has 'Views of Cosmology'.  I was quite young when I read it, still in grade school but unsure of the year.  But then there were all those books about a boys trip to the moon and so many others (Across the Space Frontier, Beyond Tomorrow come to mind as does Rockets, Guided Missiles and Space Ships) about space travel... hard to be certain which one or ones got me actually interested in astronomy specifically.


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#78 Mark F

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Posted 04 June 2016 - 08:41 PM

I has this book in my early astronomy hobby.

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#79 Rick Woods

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Posted 05 June 2016 - 10:21 AM

I has this book in my early astronomy hobby.

I have that one, plus a much earlier edition from my childhood. It's a good 'un.

 

And, at a used book store, I found the first version of it from 1935, when it was just "The Handbook of the Heavens" and wasn't "New" yet. It had, inserted, some meticulously hand-drawn star charts showing some planetary paths, dated by whoever drew them as August '37.

And they only wanted $9 for this gem!


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#80 Chucke

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Posted 05 June 2016 - 12:57 PM

Mark,

 

I still have a copy of that book although it looks like yours is in much better condition.  I got it as part a package with an Edmund 42mm refractor way back in the day.


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#81 ETXer

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Posted 03 August 2017 - 08:59 PM

Just stumbled on this thread I thought worthy of resurrecting! Add me to the list of those claiming Menzel's A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets," but... the book that fired my imagination and set me on the path was Willy Ley's The Conquest of Space. The writing was inspiring to me, but the real spark within was Chesley Bonestell's artwork. Even though we have a better idea what some of his subject matter really looks like today, I still look upon his paintings as magnificent and timeless.


Edited by ETXer, 03 August 2017 - 09:05 PM.

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#82 jklein

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Posted 04 August 2017 - 01:05 PM

Reading through this thread really got me reaching back in the memory:

I had the All About Books

I had the Goldenbook of Astronomy

I seem to remember Willy Ley's book Conquest of Space

Somewhere in my Dad's house is probably a copy of the Norton Sky Atlas - obviously purchased after we both got into fairly serious observing with my home-built 6" Newtonian.

Also nudging me along was my maternal uncle's involvement in the Mercury program as an aerospace medicine specialist. He monitored a good bit of the telemetry data from various ground stations during the astronauts' flights. His lament was that he was too tall for Mercury and too old for Gemini to qualify as an astronaut. 

 

I just bought Turn Left at Orion - it was recommended source material for the Astronomy Merit badge. I've been mulling over the possibility of being a counselor for that when I retire soon.


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#83 rmollise

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Posted 04 August 2017 - 07:25 PM

 

 

The first two books I owned were "The Sky Observer's Guide" and "Stars" (A Golden Guide) with my first small telescope as a kid (circa 1974). 

 

Zim's Stars for me too. But a slightly earlier printing. Like ten years earlier. :)


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#84 rmollise

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Posted 04 August 2017 - 07:26 PM

I has this book in my early astronomy hobby.

 

Got New Handbook of the Heavens with my good, old Edmund Palomar Junior in 1966. :)


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#85 Alen K

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Posted 04 August 2017 - 09:39 PM

Peterson Field Guide to the Stars and Planets (1st edition)

Norton's Star Atlas (borrowed from a friend)

The Cosmic Connection (Carl Sagan)

Observer's Handbook, RASC

 

...and a book on astronomy I constantly borrowed from my high-school library that I can't remember the title of. One chapter described the "Neil One Buck Telescope." Maybe someone here remembers it? Circa late sixties or very early seventies.


Edited by Alen K, 04 August 2017 - 10:05 PM.


#86 ETXer

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Posted 05 August 2017 - 08:56 AM

 

 

 

The first two books I owned were "The Sky Observer's Guide" and "Stars" (A Golden Guide) with my first small telescope as a kid (circa 1974). 

 

Zim's Stars for me too. But a slightly earlier printing. Like ten years earlier. smile.gif

 

I forgot about that one... I just looked on the shelf and there it is along with all the other Golden Guides I took off my older brother's hands recently. It's the 1956 version, fun to look through now!



#87 smithrrlyr

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 07:09 PM

Three paperbacks that were relatively cheap and widely available in the early to mid 1960s, and which have already been mentioned by others: Stars (Golden Nature Guide), The Sky Observer's Guide, and the New Handbook of the Heavens.  It was, however, Leslie Peltier's Starlight Nights that attracted me to variable star observing.


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#88 Peter B

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 10:54 PM

I don't think anyone has mentioned Sam Brown's "All About Telescopes" published by Edmund Scientific Co.  I had several of the paperback editions like "Observing the Sky Show", "Mirror Grinding and Testing", and "Telescopes You Can Build" that are all together in ABT that I have a hard back copy of.   Spent lots of time reading those books. For that matter, I would put the Edmund Scientific Co. catalogs in the category of "books" that got me started in astronomy.


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#89 Alen K

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 08:19 AM

I don't think anyone has mentioned Sam Brown's "All About Telescopes" published by Edmund Scientific Co.

Okay, forgot about that one! Yes, I had a copy and read it over and over and over. Loved those illustrations.

 

PS. I figured out the book title I couldn't remember: "Standard Handbook for Telescope Making" by Neale Howard. 


Edited by Alen K, 17 August 2017 - 08:36 AM.

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#90 kestrel0222

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Posted 20 August 2017 - 01:59 PM

The very first book that I read (in 1993?) that got me into this hobby was:

 

"Though the Telescope" 

by: Michael R. Porcellino

 

From that point on, I was hooked!!!

 

 

 

 



#91 Headshot

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 09:20 AM

"Stars" by Herbert Zim (1956 edition)

"The Nature of the Universe" (Science Service Science Program) by Roy Gallant (1959 edition)

"Star Gazing With Telescope and Camera" by George Keene (1962)

 

I still have all three, but two are being held together by good intentions.

 

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#92 TerryWood

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 12:55 PM

The first books that I can remember were "The Glass Giant of Palomar" and "Music of the Spheres" back in the 1970s.  Then came "Cosmos" by Carl Sagan and I was hooked forever.

 

V/R

 

Terry



#93 donlism

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Posted 04 September 2017 - 07:20 PM

I was a serious large-format photographer, and wanted to understand optics and lenses.  So... start simple, maybe with just one surface: "Telescope Optics," Rutten and Van Venrooij.

 

Then...  "What is this guy talking about, always being at the limit of resolution and brightness?  What do these guys look at, anyway?  What's the big deal?"

 

Too many questions not to dig in deeper!



#94 ascii

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Posted 04 September 2017 - 09:02 PM

I believe Stars by Zim is my earliest recollection and likely sparked my lifelong interest, along with growing up with the Gemini and Apollo programs.  I was born just prior to the Mercury program but was to young for it to be a factor.

 

Also, another vote for Sam Brown's All About Telescopes.  Still have it and refer to it on occasion.


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#95 Alen K

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Posted 05 September 2017 - 07:39 PM

Also, another vote for Sam Brown's All About Telescopes.  Still have it and refer to it on occasion.

Speaking of Sam Brown I found a biography: https://circuitousro...rown/index.html

 

He died in 1976. I'd like to think that he'd be pleased that at least that one book is still being read. 


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#96 Douglas Matulis

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Posted 20 October 2017 - 03:23 PM

Seeing Stars by Patrick Moore..

I still have it.30 yrs later!

Hey Paul,

 

Thanks for your help finding this book.  I found a copy on-line from a book seller in Maryland.  Got it last week, brought back a flood of memories.

 

Doug



#97 faackanders2

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Posted 20 October 2017 - 08:03 PM

The Very Large "Atlas of the Universe" by Partrick Moore in the 80's.

Read it cover to cover.  When I joined a club amd got my 10" Coultour Oddessy Dob, I wrote the date I saw some of the objects in it, and on both inside covers recordel dates and all objects looked at till I ran out of space.

 

Ken 



#98 JimOC

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Posted 03 November 2017 - 10:16 AM

I’m coming back to astronomy after dabbling for many years. I just checked these out from our library and found them very helpful:

National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Night Sky

Moon Observers Guide by Peter Greco

The latter book has 28 days of moon observing which is fascinating.

#99 Chris K

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Posted 27 November 2017 - 10:28 AM

After recovering from surgery for the better part of a month and now feeling better, the weather has been lousy all week and there's about zero chance of observing Sunday's lunar eclipse. With that said, I thought I'd try to start a new conversation as I catch-up on some reading. The question:

 

What book or books got you started in astronomy?

 

The first two books I owned were "The Sky Observer's Guide" and "Stars" (A Golden Guide) with my first small telescope as a kid (circa 1974). However, I immediately realized I needed something better so I secured a library card. My friend, Jon, and I would walk about 2-miles one-way to the library every Saturday morning. I would checkout "Amateur Astronomy" by Patrick Moore, published in 1968. And when that was due, I'd return it and exchange it for "The Amateur Astronomer's Handbook" by James Muirden - also the 1968 edition. I'd essentially trade those two books for each other over and over and over as much as the library would allow me to do so. On the Saturday's that no books were due, we'd still walk to the library. I'd run the librarian's ragged retrieving old Sky & Telescope issues from the basement via the dumbwaiter. After a while, they put a limit on me that I could only request x-number at a time. I forget how many was the limit, but I know I must have really annoyed them.

 

So, I say "thank you" to Sir Patrick Moore and James Muirden as they were my first "professional teachers". And I also thank my friend Jon. He was one year older but more experienced with a telescope and he taught me a lot. Jon passed away about 15-years ago in his late-30s from cancer. May he be resting in peace and gazing the universe from a vantage point without worry of seeing conditions, transparency, nor Cloudy Nights!!

 

Troy

I bought "The Sky Observer's Guide" at the Hayden Planetarium while on a class trip in NYC along with a toy gyroscope. I still have my copy of it, copyright 1977 with $1.95 price printed in the upper right corner of the cover. I read that book backwards and forwards. I get a kick out of how knowledge has changed since then. For example, it lists Jupiter as having 13 moons! I wish I could remember how I looked at some of the dates in the book that were as far in the future as 1991. How far away that must have been!



#100 edwincjones

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Posted 27 November 2017 - 12:10 PM

not books, but S&T and Astronomy magazines

 

edj




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