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I'm looking for Deep-Sky Guidebooks from Before 1950

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#1 BrentKnight

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 05:21 PM

I believe observing deep-sky objects only started getting popular around the time Scotty Houston from Sky & Telescope took over the Deep-Sky Wonders column (I'm seriously unhappy that Sky & Telescope retired this column, BTW).  Before this time, interest was more focused on the planets, the Moon and double stars.  But there were a couple earlier writers who covered some of the brighter deep sky objects in the skies.

 

I'm interested in finding as many of these books as I can.  Double stars are OK, but I'm mostly interested in old descriptions of clusters and nebula from before around 1955.  There are also quite a few Guides to the Constellations out there, and they are OK, but I'd really just like to see the other stuff.  I've compiled a short list of what I've found to start off with.  Most of these are available as PDFs somewhere on the Internet (and I've been fortunate enough to find a couple paper copies too).  If you can't find one yourself, send me a PM and I'll see if I can get you a copy...

 

Norton's Star Atlas, First Edition | Arthur P. Norton 1910
Uranography: A Brief Description of The Constellations Visible in the United States  | C. A. Young 1889
1001 Celestial Wonders  | Charles Edward Barns 1931
A Handbook of Double Stars |  Edward Crossley 1879
The Midnight Sky: Notes on the Stars and Planets |  Edwin Dunkin 1891
Astronomy with an Opera-Glass   Garrett Putman Serviss 1896
Pleasures of the Telescope  | Garrett Putman Serviss 1901
Star Atlas  | Joseph Hermann Klein 1901
A Beginner's Star-Book  |  Kelvin McKready 1912
Evenings With The Stars  |  Mary Proctor 1924
Half-Hours with the Telescope  |  Richard A. Proctor 1873
Half-Hours With The Stars |  Richard A. Proctor 1889
The Binary Stars  |  Robert G. Aitken 1918
Introducing the Constellations  |  Robert H. Baker 1937
An Atlas of Astronomy  |  Robert S. Ball 1892
Ball's Popular Guide to the Heavens  |  Robert S. Ball 1905
A General Catalogue of 1290 Double Stars: Discovered from 1871 to 1899 by  |  S. W. Burnham 1900
Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes: Volume 2  | Thomas William Webb 1917
A Cycle of Celestial Objects: Volume 2: The Bedford Catalogue  |  W. H. Smyth
Hours with a Three-Inch Telescope  | William Noble 1886
A Popular Handbook and Atlas of Astronomy  |  William Peck 1891
The Constellations and How to Find Them  | William Peck 1943
A Field Book of the Stars  |  William Tyler Olcott 1907
In Starland With a Three-Inch Telescope  |  William Tyler Olcott 1909
Field Book of the Skies  |  William Tyler Olcott 1954
Star Atlas  |  Winslow Upton 1896


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#2 geovermont

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 06:03 PM

You've answered your own question. Despite that, Olcott in particular is a great introduction to the sky and I enjoy reading in it now and then. I've looked at or read several of the ones you've listed, and as far as "deep sky objects" go, the emphasis is on double stars with some discussion of open and globular clusters. In those years, what would they have really had to say about the "nebulae"? They were just one fuzzy spot after another and many a galaxy (as we know it now) was vaguely thought to be a planetary system in the process of formation. Barns may be just modern enough to have the more expansive view of the universe (I've been meaning to find a copy as it is well-recommended by Fred Schaaf, if I recall correctly). The increased understanding that came about in the first half of the 20th century really resulted in such changes of our conception of the galaxy and the universe.


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#3 Starman1

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 06:57 PM

Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes, Vol.II

by the Rev. T.W.Webb, Dover publications 1962, reprinting the original©1917.


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#4 BrentKnight

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 07:11 PM

You've answered your own question. Despite that, Olcott in particular is a great introduction to the sky and I enjoy reading in it now and then. I've looked at or read several of the ones you've listed, and as far as "deep sky objects" go, the emphasis is on double stars with some discussion of open and globular clusters. In those years, what would they have really had to say about the "nebulae"? They were just one fuzzy spot after another and many a galaxy (as we know it now) was vaguely thought to be a planetary system in the process of formation. Barns may be just modern enough to have the more expansive view of the universe (I've been meaning to find a copy as it is well-recommended by Fred Schaaf, if I recall correctly). The increased understanding that came about in the first half of the 20th century really resulted in such changes of our conception of the galaxy and the universe.

Well...I know there are more of them out there (I think I did find the most popular ones), but I just heard about William Nobel's Hours with a Three-Inch Telescope a few days ago. This book from 1886 is where the name Ghost of Jupiter came from for NGC 3242.

What book by Barns are you talking about BTW?

It's usually pretty interesting to read what these people thought about these objects. They often mention in their descriptions Professor this, or Dr. that as a person who was very famous at the time. That's a by-gone era for sure these days, where it's rare to hear any famous astronomers name. Some of the thoughts from leading scientists where completely wrong, but if you stop and think about the state of knowledge at the time, you realize how easy it would be to think that way. Anyway, I'm not so interested in books from that time that describe what the objects are, I'm looking for books on what the objects look like (usually through 2" to 4" telescopes most likely).

EDIT:
Just re-read my list again. 1001.

Edited by brentknight, 05 April 2021 - 01:15 PM.

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#5 bumm

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 11:02 PM

Lots of good books on that list.  I especially enjoy reading descriptions and seeing woodcuts of DSOs from before photography began to influence everyone's perceptions. :)

                                                                                                                                                                Marty


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#6 obrazell

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 02:23 AM

W.F. Denning  Telescopic Work for Starlight Evenings


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#7 bumm

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 07:07 AM

W.F. Denning  Telescopic Work for Starlight Evenings

Yup!  That's one I looked for for years before I found an affordable copy, and one I savored all the way through.  One of my favorite books though, is Serviss' "Astronomy With an Opera-Glass," as much for it's spirit, attitude, and philosophy, as the observing info it contains.  (see my sig...)  Many of the listed books are available as free downloads online, but I like to read off the same pages as someone long ago, who then went out and looked at a sky that most people today could only dream of. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                 Marty


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#8 obrazell

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 09:34 AM

If you don't want an orginal then CUP does a reprint through its Cambridge library collection.of it. Depends if you are a collector or reader of books.


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#9 BrentKnight

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 10:18 AM

W.F. Denning  Telescopic Work for Starlight Evenings

Thanks!  Exactly the type of book I'm looking for.  Found a nice copy on Internet Archive and I'll look through it this evening...


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#10 BrentKnight

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 10:22 AM

Yup!  That's one I looked for for years before I found an affordable copy, and one I savored all the way through.  One of my favorite books though, is Serviss' "Astronomy With an Opera-Glass," as much for it's spirit, attitude, and philosophy, as the observing info it contains.  (see my sig...)  Many of the listed books are available as free downloads online, but I like to read off the same pages as someone long ago, who then went out and looked at a sky that most people today could only dream of. smile.gif

                                                                                                                                                                                 Marty

I "think" old astronomy books are becoming more popular - so more expensive to purchase.  Serviss is one of the best though and I've picked up most of his books in paper.

 

Unfortunately - they didn't have nice 8" SCTs or 14" Dobsonians at the time to take advantage of those more pristine skies...


Edited by brentknight, 05 April 2021 - 10:24 AM.

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#11 BrentKnight

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 10:27 AM

If you don't want an orginal then CUP does a reprint through its Cambridge library collection.of it. Depends if you are a collector or reader of books.

I'm a collector and a reader.  I want an original copy if I purchase a book, but if I can't purchase it, I'll read the PDF on my tablet.  I prefer the scans that show all the color in the old paper though - don't much care for the bleached-out versions that Google creates.


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#12 Crusty99

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 10:41 AM

You have a nice list of books from the golden age of amateur astronomy. Have you tried The Victorian Amateur Astronomer: Independent Astronomical Research in Britain 1820-1920, by Allan Chapman, 2nd edition, 2017. Not exactly an old astronomy book. But a book how amateur astronomy was done in Britain (1820-1920). More a history of science approach on how amateur astronomy was done at that period of time. Chapman's book has extensive notes and index, which could help you locate additional titles and authors. 


Edited by Crusty99, 05 April 2021 - 10:52 AM.

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#13 BrentKnight

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 10:50 AM

You have a nice list of books about the golden age of amateur astronomy. Have you tried The Victorian Amateur Astronomer: Independent Astronomical Research in Britain 1820-1920, by Allan Chapman, 2nd edition, 2017.

I have seen that book and been interested in it.  Ahhhh...I see it's in paperback now (finger hovering over Buy it Now).

 

Thanks!


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#14 geovermont

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 06:44 PM

"What book by Barns are you talking about BTW?"

 

I was referring to "1001 Celestial wonders as observed with home-built instruments" by C.E. Barns (1928). Never have seen a copy.

 

I do like reading the old books. One of my projects this winter is reading several introductory astronomy text, from oldest to most recent.


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#15 BrentKnight

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 07:12 PM

I had actually listed that one, but didn't realize it.  I found a copy (bleached out Google copy).  Colorful language, but a very strange way of presenting the charts:

 

1001 Celestial Wonders - Sample.jpg

 

If you'd like a copy, send me a PM.


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#16 bumm

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 07:10 AM

I had actually listed that one, but didn't realize it.  I found a copy (bleached out Google copy).  Colorful language, but a very strange way of presenting the charts:

 

attachicon.gif1001 Celestial Wonders - Sample.jpg

 

If you'd like a copy, send me a PM.

Kind of scarce, but worth having.  It's a good book, geared to amateur observers, but his charts are worthless. 

                                                                                              Marty
 


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#17 geovermont

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 07:41 AM

Just looking at the description of M33 in the sample above, I see that Barns has incorporated the new understanding of the scale of the cosmos. That gives a whole new dimension to those "spiral nebulae". And yes, odd charts. In terms of the old charts, I'd stick with Norton's!


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#18 bumm

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 02:10 PM

Just looking at the description of M33 in the sample above, I see that Barns has incorporated the new understanding of the scale of the cosmos. That gives a whole new dimension to those "spiral nebulae". And yes, odd charts. In terms of the old charts, I'd stick with Norton's!

The charts look more like something you'd see in a book more geared to navigation.

                                                                                                    Marty


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#19 S_Jensen

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 03:41 AM

There is also Gore, J.E. 1877. "Southern stellar objects for small telescopes ...", which  is quite typical of the time with the focus on double stars.

 

But more remarkable, if you also consider non-English books, is Flammarion's massive (more than  800 pages)" Les étoiles et les curiosites du ciél ..." with first edition from 1882.  Quite a bit on double stars as to be expected from this author but also various clusters and nebulous objects are treated. For example, there are  four pages on the Andromeda nebula, with indications on its appearance in small scopes and discussion on what it might be.  If I get a tax return will treat myself to an original of this tome to fully appreciate the chromolithographies. The existing PDF of course does not make the book full justice, and I believe most of the readily available copies that can be had on Abebooks etc are  printed off this, so agree with above, nothing beats seeing and holding an original physical  copy.  


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#20 Alvan Clark

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 08:01 AM

You can add the Poole Bros. Celestial Handbook. Covers some southern objects too. Mostly doubles of course. Here's a photo of my copy. Only paid $12.50 for it in 2004. Got 1001 celestial wonders in year 2000 for $55.

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Edited by Alvan Clark, 07 April 2021 - 08:06 AM.

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#21 BrentKnight

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 09:37 AM

That's a very nice collection.  Thanks for posting those pictures, Alvan.  I'll see if I can find a copy (probably PDF for me) of Celestial Handbook. 



#22 BrentKnight

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 09:41 AM

The charts look more like something you'd see in a book more geared to navigation.

                                                                                                    Marty

That's a good description.  They just seem to loose all context the way they are displayed.  You can't identify any of the constellation patterns.  Still...it's an interesting book.



#23 BrentKnight

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 02:53 PM

You have a nice list of books from the golden age of amateur astronomy. Have you tried The Victorian Amateur Astronomer: Independent Astronomical Research in Britain 1820-1920, by Allan Chapman, 2nd edition, 2017. Not exactly an old astronomy book. But a book how amateur astronomy was done in Britain (1820-1920). More a history of science approach on how amateur astronomy was done at that period of time. Chapman's book has extensive notes and index, which could help you locate additional titles and authors. 

Crusty,

 

Just bought this one - arriving Saturday.  Thanks again for the suggestion.


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#24 BrentKnight

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Posted 14 April 2021 - 01:58 PM

You can add the Poole Bros. Celestial Handbook. Covers some southern objects too. Mostly doubles of course. Here's a photo of my copy. Only paid $12.50 for it in 2004. Got 1001 celestial wonders in year 2000 for $55.

I just picked up the Poole Bros' Celestial Handbook for $30 (and consider it a very good deal).  Thanks again for the suggestion.


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#25 BrentKnight

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Posted 25 April 2021 - 08:22 PM

I found another DSO guidebook, this one published in 1923.

 

Hutchinson's Splendour of the Heavens: Vol. II by T.E.R. Phillips & W.H. Steavenson

 

Splendour of the Heavens.jpg

 

This two volume set is more of an encyclopedia, but the end of Volume II has charts of the Moon (by W. Goodacre) with descriptions, followed by a set of constellation charts with notes for maybe 100 DSOs.


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