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Classic books about the hobby that inspire you.

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#1 brian dewelles

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 05:07 PM

So what books got you started in hobby or re-inspired you at a certain stage? For me "the sky observers guide" and patrick moore's "the observers book of astronomy" began things.

Dickinson and dyer's monumental volume " the backyard astronomers guide" got me reinvigorated in the hobby.  The late steve coe (a friend and neighbor) who was an incredible deep sky observer and a great writer motivates me every time i read "touching the universe". 

Their must be at least a hundred more. What are some?

 

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#2 geovermont

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 05:20 PM

Donald Menzel's A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets (original edition), Garrett Serviss' Astonomy With the Naked Eye, and Robert Burnham Jr.'s magnum opus; Burnham's Celestial Handbook. Those are my classics. Menzel's book was my guide as a boy and I still use the all-sky charts. Serviss inspires me to get out and view the universe with or without instruments, and Burnham is just, well, Burnham. How could one person have put all that together? His three volumes serve as the starting point for many great evenings out under the stars.


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#3 Sky King

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 05:31 PM

Ashbrook: The Astronomical Scrapbook is a collection of articles from Sky and Telescope spanning many years, focusing on the history of astronomy. Takes your breath away.


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#4 radiofm74

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 05:47 PM

I'm just starting out. My copy of Turn left at Orion got here today. Looks wonderful. and I also got me a couple of basic Astronomy books for the Kindle. I'll be following this thread for even more suggestions!


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#5 icomet

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 05:48 PM

Clear Skies.

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#6 petert913

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 05:56 PM

The old Edmund Scientific astronomy guide was my bible as a kid.


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#7 Bomber Bob

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 06:13 PM

Seriously, the Apollo Missions + Viking (Mars) + the original Star Trek got me interested in looking up & out...

 

I'm a Virgo, so naturally 2 Virgo authors stirred my emotional attachment to observing:  Edgar Rice Burroughs & H.G. Wells, and my feelings about The Red Planet are genuinely romantic in the Classic sense...

 

Honestly, I've read so many astronomy books over the past 50 years that I can't recall which ones were first, but I know I read Rey's The Stars: A New Way to See Them in 6th Grade -- Mr. Richardson, our science teacher, had several copies that he loaned-out to us redneck urchins.  For years I subscribed to both Sky & Telescope and Astronomy magazines, and these gave me a practical foundation in instruments & observing -- and Walter Scott Houston's "Deep Sky Wonders" definitely inspired me.


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#8 MisterDan

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 06:22 PM

Menzel's Field Guide to the Stars and Planets was THE reference during my early years. If I could manage and stick with a "desert island" list of five books, The Field Guide would be included.

 

In the "impact per unit page" category, Dr. Henry Paul's Telescopes for Skygazing is likely my champion.  The density of information (both textual and photographic) within its 156 pages is impressive.

 

Texereau's How to Make a Telescope... 'nuff said.

 

Dickenson and Dyer:  The Backyard Astronomer's Guide brought me back up to speed during my re-entry into the hobby.

 

If I'm allowed to include a single catalog, I'd likely pick any early '90s edition of Orion Telescopes and Binoculars'.

 

The Light-Hearted Astronomer, by the late, great, Ken Fulton, is another favorite.

 

Cheers and more reading.

Dan


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#9 SarverSkyGuy

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 06:26 PM

In the mid-60's it was The Sky Observer's Guide, a 4" x 6" book by the Mayalls & J. Wyckoff.  I lost the original but happened upon one from a later reprint; still exactly as I remembered it. 


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#10 DLuders

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 06:43 PM

I read Rey's The Stars: A New Way to See Them in 6th Grade 

I read that book too.  It shows the Constellation patterns in such a good way.  I set up Stellarium to show H.A. Rey's constellation patterns.  wink.gif  

 

The Stars by H A Rey.JPG


Edited by DLuders, 19 January 2021 - 06:43 PM.

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#11 starman876

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 06:45 PM

My neighbor with his telescope.  and some of the books afterwards listed here which I still have.



#12 brian dewelles

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 06:55 PM

Donald Menzel's A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets (original edition), Garrett Serviss' Astonomy With the Naked Eye, and Robert Burnham Jr.'s magnum opus; Burnham's Celestial Handbook. Those are my classics. Menzel's book was my guide as a boy and I still use the all-sky charts. Serviss inspires me to get out and view the universe with or without instruments, and Burnham is just, well, Burnham. How could one person have put all that together? His three volumes serve as the starting point for many great evenings out under the stars.

Burnham is really a category by himself. For his contribution to the hobby and love of observing he might be the "greatest of all time".


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#13 Bomber Bob

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 07:13 PM

I'm on my 4th or 5th soft-cover copy of Field Guide to the Stars and Planets -- humidity Down South takes a toll on the spine glues!  First time I saw those tiny Atlas Plates...  Yikes!  They encouraged me to learn & use setting circles, star-hopping, & large-to-small fields.  To This Day, I still start with low power...


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#14 MisterDan

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 07:18 PM

Burnham is really a category by himself. For his contribution to the hobby and love of observing he might be the "greatest of all time".

 

Excellent point, Brian.

 

But Rey gave us Curious George, as well!

 

...Perhaps co-G.o.A.T.s?...

wink.gif lol.gif


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#15 Defenderslideguitar

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 07:21 PM

The library had a couple  books  we took out    but first the interest came more from the space race   Alan Sheppard   John Glenn  et al.   Then after that we looked for anything space in the library   like Frontiers of Astronomy by Fred Hoyle    way over my head at the time. Mom bought  Life series books on space and Rockets    more age appropriate  read as understandable

 

Later on   it was not really a book but some recall the "The Starry Messenger"

The Backyard Astronomer's book came later

I second    " Turn Left at Orion " as very helpful

and look what  showed up on the porch yesterday  an old copy of Richard Berry's  Build your own Telescope


Edited by Defenderslideguitar, 19 January 2021 - 08:55 PM.

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#16 clamchip

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 07:26 PM

The Sky Observer's Guide and Field Guide to the Stars and Planets 1st edition were my

favorites and and still are and I still have them.

A hair later for me came All About Telescopes.

I was sorta a amateur telescope maker back then, we had to, none of us kids had any

money and All About Telescopes was our bible really.

I bought lenses from Edmund and surplus camera lenses from camera stores. Some of

the gang were very serious grinding their own mirrors, Foucault testing, etc.

 

Robert


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#17 Neptune

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 07:36 PM

First up, when I was a child of probably 10 years old, my Grandparents had this one on their book shelf, 'The big Book of Stars'. Next up, when I was about 14 years old, 'The Sky Observers Guide'. This little gem was purchased at a tourist trap while traveling with my family in Michigan. My last book, the one that had the most influence on my life and was found in our local library when I was about 15, is 'The Glass Giant of Palomar' by David O. Woodbury, and no, this is not the public library's book, I bought this one.

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#18 Astro-Master

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 08:11 PM

Sky & Telescope's Deep Sky Wonders by Walter Scott Houston.   I would go to the San Diego State College Library and read all the articles he wrote, and took notes, and made lists of objects to observe.  The Webb Society Deep Sky Observer's Handbooks were  also great.


Edited by Astro-Master, 19 January 2021 - 08:12 PM.

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#19 brian dewelles

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 08:50 PM

Sky & Telescope's Deep Sky Wonders by Walter Scott Houston.   I would go to the San Diego State College Library and read all the articles he wrote, and took notes, and made lists of objects to observe.  The Webb Society Deep Sky Observer's Handbooks were  also great.

Yes and i always like how he described observing as a skill that one could practice and get good at. I keep that in mind to always try to see a little more when looking through a scope.


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#20 ccwemyss

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 09:16 PM

There were a bunch that got me started, when I was a kid. For about a year, when I was in 5th grade, I got a series of Science Service booklets that would arrive, I think monthly. They were in black and white, but each one came with a sheet of stamps that had the color illustrations. You would tear them out, lick them, and paste them into the book to make it complete. They had ones on space exploration that I pored over. The Edmund Deluxe Space Conqueror came with All About Telescopes. And I guess I have to count the 1968 catalog from which I bought it. In 6th grade I read Glass Giant of Palomar, and got the Astronomy merit badge book (I never finished the badge - Oregon weather made it challenging). That may be where I first saw a picture of the McMath solar telescope, which I thought was the coolest telescope on the planet (in 2009 I was on Kitt Peak for an educational program, and actually got to use it - to watch the sunset - I was absolutely thrilled to see the green flash through it). I also read everything I could find in our World Book Encyclopedia set (my mother sold them for a while) about astronomy. Sometime in middle school I got a copy of Norton's Star Atlas. 

 

Since then, Leslie Peltier's Starlight Nights, Timothy Ferris' Galaxies, Howard's Telescope Handbook and Star Atlas, and strangely, Sidgwick's Amateur Astronomer's Handbook, which I somehow made myself read cover to cover. I have a couple of shelves worth of other books, but those are the ones that stand out. 

 

Chip W. 


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#21 oldmanastro

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 09:19 PM

There is one specific book that started it all for me "The Telescope and the World of Astronomy" by Marvin Riemer. The book was included with my first telescope and all Sears astronomical telescopes back in 1965. It was simple but included all the information needed to start plus a folded up star chart. The book connected me to the AAVSO. A connection that continues to this day. Inside the book there was a gift subscription to the Review of Popular Astronomy. That combination of book and magazine was excellent. Then a dear aunt gave me the book "Astronomia" by Josep Comas i Sola, the Catalonian astronomer who is now recognized as the discoverer of Titan's atmosphere. The existence of the atmosphere was later confirmed by Gerard Kuiper. The book described Mars as a planet that could possibly sustain simple life forms and that blew my mind at 13 just before the Mariner missions. It is full of drawings from Comas Sola himself who was a keen planetary observer. He mentions Titan's atmosphere too. It was in fact a very comprehensive astronomy treatise.  Then came the book that has always been an inspiration, Starlight Nights by Leslie Peltier. This is a book that you read more than once. 

 

I have kept the three books with me always with a second copy of Starlight Nights that has some good photos included.

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#22 oldmanastro

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 09:27 PM

I'm on my 4th or 5th soft-cover copy of Field Guide to the Stars and Planets -- humidity Down South takes a toll on the spine glues!  First time I saw those tiny Atlas Plates...  Yikes!  They encouraged me to learn & use setting circles, star-hopping, & large-to-small fields.  To This Day, I still start with low power...

Tell me about it! I had to learn to fix that problem but there is one book that always eluded my efforts, Stars in the Making by Cecilia Payne Gaposhkin. The paperback version always ended up unglued. I'm on my third copy. I have to find a hardcover edition.


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#23 Chirp1

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 09:42 PM

This is what got me going, but I'm 60 now and the maps are so small  even my readers can't cut it.

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#24 Ken Sturrock

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 10:10 PM

Not really classic, and It didn't get me started, but I love Epic Moon. It's got a lot of great writing about historical observation and understanding of the moon through old telescopes.


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#25 brian dewelles

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 10:19 PM

As a teenager one summer on our front porch in rochester i read shklovskii and sagans " intelligent life in the universe"  I believe it was carl sagans first book and of course appearances on  johnny carson and then his masterpiece "Cosmos" followed. 

I've done tons of outreach and its probably my favorite part of the hobby so maybe that seed got planted when i read that amazing book.


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