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Book influence on early astro amateur career?

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#1 Lucullus

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Posted 31 May 2021 - 03:48 PM

Which books inspired and motivated - or influenced you in any way - the most when entering astronomy as an amateur?

Despite ending up with probably almost 10 books not long after getting into the hobby the following two were surely among the most positively influencial ones (not to be mistaken with them being second to none concerning content... maybe they are, but at the time they were just highly inspiring):

 

41nu89RL9rL.jpg3440084396.03.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

 

The first one "Astronomy for Beginners" from Kosmos, 2002, by Werner E. Celnik & Hermann-Michael Hahn, is the first real dedicated astronomy book I bought. It is an allrounder introductory into astronomy, now in it's xyz edition, telling you about the sky as a whole, the most important optical phenomena like rainbows or blue snow, explaining different celestial objects from the individual planets to nebulae and galaxies, treats the fundaments of observing equipment from binoculars to refractors, reflectors, even catadiopters, and covers visual observing including filters. It ends with a very brief outline of general astrophotography.

The second one "Astrophotography for Beginners" from Kosmos, 2000, is dedicated to, well, astrophotography, at least what could be regarded at up to date back then. That includes covering the topic with good old school analogue photography to about 3/4 of the book and introducing the cutting-edge CCD techniques back then with SBIG ST-7 or ST-8 cameras being as expensive as a small automobile. wink.gif Oh when I think back... What a long way we've come. grin.gif

Why were these highly influencial? It was probably due to the first book covering the whole range of topics, yet not as deep to result in a scary huge book, it's writing style not being too dry, full of explanations and rich with pictures, taking the reader by the hand to go from one spectacular object to the next, Saturn, Jupiter, M31 etc. It was not shy to present some of the astro equipment in order to positively awe the reader with a backyard observing location with a 6" refractor, going on to explain the relation between aperture and limiting magnitude, thus awaking the readers curiosity for more. Everything is deepely enough covered to ignite the readers interest even more, yet not as much as to beat him with details and technicals. In the end the final astrophotography chapter got me hooked on a dedicated book in this regard. All in all it was just the right book as a starter and to get going. It was a page-turner and invigorated a "Wow, cool!"-feeling in general, and what can be achieved with average equipment in detail, always making oneself wonder what more could be achieved with more effort and an hour or two longer analogue exposures.

Nowadays, with the high-tech equipment there is available ($-$$$) to amateurs compared to 20 years ago, these books are still fun to just have a look into and bring up warm, cosy memories of hours without end in the back-road drawing with pencils or piggy back analogue photography, listening to cicadas, the silence, and the occasional chilly breeze. Good times!

 

What are yours?


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#2 jupiter122

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Posted 31 May 2021 - 04:17 PM

My first observing book, aside from a college astronomy textbook, was NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe by Terence Dickinson. Bought it around 1995.

Was a great beginners guide.

Tim.

#3 Astro Canuck

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Posted 31 May 2021 - 04:39 PM

The book that started me on my astronomy way was back in 1960,,, "Your Book of Astronomy"  by Patrick Moore.. I also wrote and received replies from him.. talked on phone a few time.. expensive back in 1970's!

 

 It was interesting, my mother took me to the library and she told me to look around, I went to the science section for some reason.. picked out 3 books .. on on dinosaurs, rock-minerals and astronomy... we took them home I sat in a big comfy chair and read them... but read Patrick Moore's book a few more times and well .. 61 years later... still doing astronomy... and in 2000 -- found the exact book I read in an old used book store!

 

Yout Book of Astronomy (1958).jpg


Edited by Astro Canuck, 31 May 2021 - 04:41 PM.

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#4 Justin Fuller

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Posted 31 May 2021 - 04:41 PM

In 1997-ish parents got me The Practical Astronomer by Brian Jones and Peterson Field Guide: Stars and Planets for Christmas not long after getting a 60mm Tasco refractor for my Birthday. I still have the books, and though they're definitely inferior to it's contemporaries like Night Watch and Backyard Astronomer's Guide, they were well loved in their time. My 2 year old son interestingly gravitates to them on my bookshelf, so he's inherited them.

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#5 bobzeq25

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Posted 31 May 2021 - 05:07 PM

An Introduction to Astronomy

 

Roger H. Baker, PhD

 

Yes, I am older than dirt.  <smile>


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#6 MisterDan

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Posted 31 May 2021 - 05:21 PM

First and foremost:

https://pictures.abe...95194225-us.jpg

Early editions utilized photographic plates (and corresponding negatives) as "charts."  Later editions switched to maps by Will Tirion.  (I'm not sure whose maps are used, now.)

In a way, my rabid devouring of the sky was triggered by three men:  Menzel, Bell, and Howell. cool.gif  (The latter two had little to do with the 8x40 binoculars that were glued to my hands, as a kid, but they did found the company that would import and re-brand the binoculars decades later.)

 

Dr. Paul's classic was a great introduction to the tools and gave me enough knowledge & perspective to understand other more detailed books I encountered later (i.e. Texereau (How to Make a Telescope), and Ingalls (Amateur Telescope Making).

https://pictures.abe.../7160063387.jpg

 

While it's not a book, National Geographic's "A Map of the Heavens" (1957) deserves mention, as it provided me an introduction to the constellations (especially those in the southern sky) before Menzel's guide blew my mind.  The inset charts and artwork along the top and bottom borders provided more perspective on various constellation groupings/associations.

 

Best wishes.

Dan


Edited by MisterDan, 31 May 2021 - 05:24 PM.

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#7 KTAZ

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Posted 31 May 2021 - 05:24 PM

I still have my 3 volume set of Burnham's Celestial Handbook.
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#8 DuncanM

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Posted 31 May 2021 - 05:33 PM

Arthur C. Clarke's Exploration of Space:

 

https://archive.org/...age/n9/mode/2up



#9 Douglas Matulis

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Posted 01 June 2021 - 09:34 AM

There were several in this order of when I got them:

 

Seeing Stars - Patrick Moore

Stars - Baker, Zim

The Sky Observers Guide - Mayall, Mayall

Field Guide to the Stars and Planets (1st Edition) - Menzel

Amateur Astronomers Handbook - Muirden

3 volumes of Burnhams

 

That was my complete collection for something like 15 years.

 

I was 12 when my Dad brought home a copy of Seeing Stars and a Philips Planisphere from the Adler Planetarium Gift shop.  It must have

been providentially the exact perfect time to have been given these.  I just remember being blown away by what seemed like random chaos

could actually be navigated and had names assigned, let alone all the other objects in space and the immense distances.  It took root in me at that

young age and has never let go.  That was back in 1976.  That was back when they used the Zeiss projector (it was magical) and the planetarium

gift shop had books on astronomy, astrophysics, observing guides that could actually be used by a budding amateur astronomer, and cool

science stuff, plus Celestron telescopes!  Now its filled with fluff books and Chinese trinkets that are nothing but useless glitz and flash and

useless telescopes that will only frustrate a kid.  In my opinion, the stuff is so dumbed down, not sure it would inspire anyone. Things have sure

changed and perhaps I'm old school.



#10 Lucullus

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Posted 01 June 2021 - 10:01 AM

Old school is šŸ˜Ž !
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#11 lphilpot

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Posted 01 June 2021 - 10:17 AM

My first book was "Star Maps for Beginners" by I.M. Levitt and Roy Marshall, but I was already interested at that point. Looking back at that book, I'm surprised I didn't get discouraged (comparing it with actual celestial atlases)...



#12 Lucullus

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Posted 01 June 2021 - 10:27 AM

That shows how one grows with the topic.

#13 Alex_V

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Posted 01 June 2021 - 12:57 PM

This (one of many)

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#14 KidOrion

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Posted 02 June 2021 - 12:05 AM

Exploring the Planets by Roy Gallant

The Universe, LIFE Nature Library

Field Book of the Skies by William T Olcott

Cosmos by Carl Sagan


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#15 Lucullus

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Posted 02 June 2021 - 05:58 AM

Exploring the Planets by Roy Gallant
The Universe, LIFE Nature Library
Field Book of the Skies by William T Olcott
Cosmos by Carl Sagan

I'm just reading "Carl Sagan - A Life" and am in the 1960s. Most people who new him seem to have characterised him as "brash" in his younger years. An interesting person, though.
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#16 desertstars

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Posted 02 June 2021 - 01:06 PM

For me, it started with A Primer for Star Gazers by Henry M. Neely. A variety of books fell into my hands in childhood because I'd shown an interest in the night sky, but the next two that influenced me were Stars by Zim & Baker, and more seriously as an observer, The Sky Observer's Guide by the Mayalls.

 

The books that really launched me into observing, back in my teens, were Olcott's Field Book of the Skies and The Amateur Astronomer's Handbook by James Muirden.

 

 


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#17 Alan French

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 11:52 AM

Wilkins and Moore.jpg

 

It was quite a revelation learning that telescopes and their optics could be made in my basement.

 

Clear skies, Alan


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#18 Headshot

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 11:44 PM

Star Gazing with Telescope and Camera by George T. Keene, Chilton Publishing, 1962. It introduced me to the likes of Keene, Dakin, Paul, etc. I still treasure my overused, out-of-date, ratty copy. The only thing comparable is Sam Brown's book(s).


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#19 rmollise

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Posted 20 June 2021 - 02:44 PM

When I was a young feller, I ran across three books:

 

Stars by Herbert Zim (one of the little Golden Guides).

 

This was really what started it for me. Beautifully illustrated and eminently understandable even by silly little me.

 

How to Make and Use a Telescope by Patrick Moore and Percy Wilkins.

 

My first Patrick Moore book!

 

The Big Eye by Max Ehrlich.

 

A rather (make that "very") silly SF book that concerned Mount Palomar and the Hale Reflector...I loved it.

 

Anyhow, those three lit the fuse for me. 

 

A few words on Stars and some of my other faves from back in the vaunted day. smile.gif

 

https://uncle-rods.b...ad-of-cars.html


Edited by rmollise, 20 June 2021 - 04:36 PM.

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#20 BFaucett

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Posted 20 June 2021 - 06:33 PM

Which books inspired and motivated - or influenced you in any way - the most when entering astronomy as an amateur?  ~~snip~~

 

This book, which I read when I was in Jr. High School, inspired my interest in astronomy.  I was in the 7th or 8th grade. (I can't remember exactly which one). It would have been in 1967 or 1968.
 

sml_gallery_230527_10560_19541.jpg

Pioneer Astronomers
by Navin Sullivan
Publisher: Scholastic Book Services (1965)
Paperback: 154 pages

"When men had no telescopes, they believed that the universe was a fairly small and simple place, and that they were the most important part of it. Today we know that the universe is very large and very diverse.... I have singled out pioneers who helped us to explore farther and farther into the universe. Each step they took depended on one taken by someĀ­one else before. And at each step they found that there was more and more to explore. Today we know that astronomy, the oldest of the sciences, is only just beginning."

https://www.amazon.c.../dp/B0007DRV0W/
 

 
I received my first telescope in October 1969. I still have the telescope and I still have the book. 


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sml_gallery_230527_11193_153950.jpg

 

Photos from 2019.
 
Cheers!  Bob F. smile.gif


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#21 Loren Toole

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Posted 21 June 2021 - 10:24 AM

I'd have to say Norton's Star Atlas (1973 edition published by Sky & Telescope) was probably the most important single book that influenced my interest.... the sky maps are wonderful renditions of art, but they use outdated nomenclature for objects, the Herschel numbering system. Still it was my standard go-to reference while learning the sky.

 

Around the same time, I encountered Roth's Handbook for Planetary Observers in our college library which was a revelation for me. Actually this book contains a lot of classic advice for observers but it's well organized and provides important hints for improving observing skills. I depended on this advice when observing my first serious Mars opposition... a great near-perihelic event in 1973.

 

Loren

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Edited by Loren Toole, 21 June 2021 - 10:25 AM.

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#22 MisterDan

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Posted 21 June 2021 - 10:45 AM

This book, which I read when I was in Jr. High School, inspired my interest in astronomy.  I was in the 7th or 8th grade. (I can't remember exactly which one). It would have been in 1967 or 1968.
 

sml_gallery_230527_10560_19541.jpg

Pioneer Astronomers
by Navin Sullivan
Publisher: Scholastic Book Services (1965)
Paperback: 154 pages

"When men had no telescopes, they believed that the universe was a fairly small and simple place, and that they were the most important part of it. Today we know that the universe is very large and very diverse.... I have singled out pioneers who helped us to explore farther and farther into the universe. Each step they took depended on one taken by someĀ­one else before. And at each step they found that there was more and more to explore. Today we know that astronomy, the oldest of the sciences, is only just beginning."

https://www.amazon.c.../dp/B0007DRV0W/
 

 
I received my first telescope in October 1969. I still have the telescope and I still have the book. 


sml_gallery_230527_10716_215494.jpg
 
sml_gallery_230527_10716_1106087.jpg

 

sml_gallery_230527_11193_153950.jpg

 

Photos from 2019.
 
Cheers!  Bob F. smile.gif

-And you obviously took great care of your 6344.  It looks wonderful!

 

Best wishes and thanks for sharing.

Dan


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#23 Crusty99

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Posted 24 June 2021 - 05:16 PM

Star maps and field guides make up the bulk of my astronomy titles. I find the purchase of popular paper star maps and field guides to be critical to my astro career. However, now in these current times, I mostly use Ski Safari on my desktop to locate objects--unless I am following a specific book title for one reason or another. 

 

However, back in the mid 1990's, I found myself memorizing every word in Alan M. MacRobert's Star-Hopping for Backyard Astronomers. I loved that book. 

 

applause.gif


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#24 Lucullus

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 01:31 PM

The link to the cover doesn't work anymore to my second most influencial astro-book at the beginning of my amateur career. So, here it is again.

BuchcoverKosmos2000.jpg


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#25 GoreBrain

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Posted 01 April 2024 - 07:59 PM

It's a bummer when links stop working, but thanks for sharing your influential astro-book again! It's always interesting to hear about the books that shape our passions and hobbies. By the way, if you're curious about exploring other fields, you might find some useful information on phlebotomy training programs at Phlebotomy Near You https://phlebotomynearyou.com/. It's always good to have resources for various interests!


Edited by GoreBrain, 01 April 2024 - 08:04 PM.



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