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Time for a second edition of Burnham's Celestial Handbook?

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#1 Doraemon

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Posted 06 September 2021 - 01:51 PM

I am relatively newbie and discovered this awesome book. I also read about the author.  I am wondering if some of the people here at CN could work on a new edition of the Burnham's Celestial Handbook, to keep his work alive.  I work in the medical field, and it is usual that great classic books in medicine can be started in the past by an authority in the field, e.g., Harrison's Internal Medicine, or Rosai & Ackerman Surgical pathology, both textbooks that are now continued in new editions by new authors keeping the original styles. 

I think that Burnham's second edition could be updated with new astronomical knowledge, tables and coordinates can be also updated, new images could be added, etc.  I don't know who could work in this project, but I know that many of the people in this forum have the knowledge to work on a second edition of Burnham's celestial handbook, like Bill Paolini, just to cite one name.

 

 

 


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#2 DHEB

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Posted 06 September 2021 - 02:00 PM

This has been discussed before here in CN. I do not recall the details, those can be found searching older posts, but I believe the broad consensus was that it is better to enjoy BCH as it is and look for more up to date information elsewhere.
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#3 bsturges

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Posted 06 September 2021 - 02:52 PM

I first ordered all three volumes of Burham's from Willman-Bell while I was still onboard ship in the 1980's, even though I had very limited personnel storage space. I still enjoy them now from time to time- although mostly for nostalgia. You may be interested in collecting The Night Sky Observer's Guide. They came from the same publisher- now no longer in business. They should be easy to find used, as they were popular a few years ago. The first two volumes cover the Northern sky, the 3rd for the Southern sky, with a 4th dedicated to the Milky Way in detail to -54 deg. They do not however contain the philosophical inspiration or scientific data of Burnham's. Just an excellent printed source to help plan an evening of observing.  They do uphold the tradition of having many black and white photos to give perspective on what you will see in your own telescope, as well as tables(by constellation) of variable stars and double stars.  


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#4 BradFran

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Posted 06 September 2021 - 02:55 PM

Burnham's is a classic. Closest you can get to an updated Burnham is the in-progress "Annals of the Deep Sky" series... the publisher (Willmann-Bell) has recently been purchased by AAS (Sky and Telescope) and it should be available again soon.


Edited by BradFran, 06 September 2021 - 03:02 PM.

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#5 bsturges

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Posted 06 September 2021 - 02:57 PM

A little correction- Burham's was published by Dover Publications, Inc., New York. But willmann-Bell Inc. was a popular source for many astro books as well as some ATM supplies. 


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#6 BradFran

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Posted 06 September 2021 - 03:00 PM

I wish WB had Burnham's, the rights would now be with AAS and that would have made the author very happy.


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#7 desertstars

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Posted 06 September 2021 - 09:21 PM

I'll second the suggestion to go to The Night Sky Observer's Guide and Annals of the Deep Sky to fill this need. The publisher, Willman-Bell, went out of business a while ago, but is being resurrected by the AAS. IIRC, and all goes according to plan, they should have these titles available again sometime in October.


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#8 Daniel Mounsey

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Posted 09 September 2021 - 08:31 AM

I am relatively newbie and discovered this awesome book. I also read about the author.  I am wondering if some of the people here at CN could work on a new edition of the Burnham's Celestial Handbook, to keep his work alive.  I work in the medical field, and it is usual that great classic books in medicine can be started in the past by an authority in the field, e.g., Harrison's Internal Medicine, or Rosai & Ackerman Surgical pathology, both textbooks that are now continued in new editions by new authors keeping the original styles. 

I think that Burnham's second edition could be updated with new astronomical knowledge, tables and coordinates can be also updated, new images could be added, etc.  I don't know who could work in this project, but I know that many of the people in this forum have the knowledge to work on a second edition of Burnham's celestial handbook, like Bill Paolini, just to cite one name.

 

I too understand your position and believe me, there's no source to date that captures the imagination like RBj did. I posted a similar topic some years back and have battled in several other BCH forums regarding the matter and they can get very heated, myself included because had it not been for RBj, I wouldn't be here now. His work has always been a driving force for countless reasons most struggle to relate to today.

 

https://www.cloudyni...stial-handbook/

 

Several years ago, I had a good number of personal exchanges with Craig Crossen who would have been willing to take on the monumental task and in my opinion would have been the most suitable choice for the project regarding the possibility to update BCH. Dover responded but explained that the book was still selling fine and that they wanted it to remain as a timeless "classic". Believe me, there is no one who cherishes this source more than I in fact I have been updating the astrophysical data myself over the course of the past 25 years which is why mine are so beat up. I have about twenty copies which lay in various parts of my house as well as our cars and at work.

 

To this very day, they still remain my main source for many reasons most others can't seem to grasp because they are so hung up on data. Data always changes and is available everywhere. They still work better than any other source for me because the tables of objects are still very useful for observation but most importantly, the writing is timeless and off the charts. I could probably write a book at this point about why this source remains timeless and how it affected me so hard.

 

Just yesterday I was doing some research about the human mind and one's perception of color and imagination specifically while reading because I get endless calls from angry, frustrated imagers with the same story. Today, amateur astronomy is flooded with imagers and photographers. I call them the "celestial paparazzi" but here's what most fail to understand and it is the main cause for my departure of the industry within the next few years in order to seperate myself from this mentality that has sadly flooded the market. It's okay for business if stuff works, but it's bad for amateur astronomy and unless one is on the receiving end of it, they will never understand it, and sadly, most don't. That I can tell you is an absolute fact and I can see the direction it's all going. 

 

The question is, do readers see colors and visualize anything when they read a novel or a book of interest? Most do with the exception of a few and the imagination can be very colorful!  Most novels are just writing without any pictures, yet readers can see everything clearly and visualize colors. But, today's astro enthusiasts just want to look and tinker with colorful pictures. That's all most seem to care about and even go as far as to inform others they can't see much if anything visually. For me it's a complete disconnect and a bunch of bad information to teach others to believe that. I know, because I'm on the receiving end of it each day. So, how does this relate to Burnham's Celestial Handbook? 

 

Burnham used astro imaging as a tool to convey the universe and the changes it makes over time. There's a huge difference between a person who takes astrophotos just to look at a loud picture, dressed up with fancy colors and a person who sees far deeper than a photo. You know what the problem is? So few read books about astronomy anymore. They are mostly consumed by all the digital, marketing hype and the internet. Burnham was an amazing writer and very few know how to write. If writing doesn't capture one's imagination, then many just resort to colorful pictures. How can one appreciate what they see or hardly see if they don't even take the time to read or understand anything about it in the first place?

 

RBj had the most colorful imagination. He explained things in ways that made the observer contemplate their position in space and to appreciate the most subtle of things at the eyepiece. Artists like Chesley Bonestell and Arther C Clarke to name a few had huge imaginations. You walk into a bookstore like Barnes&Noble and you go to the astronomy section and you open these astronomy books today and they're all the same. They are just littered with endless, loud pictures of the same objects we've seen time and time again. It's like a broken record. There's just no soul or great writing anymore. That's why this industry is so dead inside. Instead, enthusiasts just bicker over some data and coordinates but where's the writing and imagination folks? Who of these individuals even understands what coordinates do or were even meant to do anymore? All most do now is push buttons, look at digital screens, fight software and even software doesn't get along. In the end, all this tech stuff becomes and ending in itself and a complete disconnect from nature which is what Burnham wanted others to appreciate as an earthling. I look at screens all day. The last thing I wanna see is a screen, especially at night. Amateur astronomy isn't astronomy anymore. It's merely become a form of IT astronomy.

 

Annal's of the Deep is helping to carry the torch.

https://www.cloudyni...tial-companion/


Edited by Daniel Mounsey, 09 September 2021 - 12:25 PM.

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#9 LivingNDixie

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Posted 09 September 2021 - 10:20 AM

I am relatively newbie and discovered this awesome book. I also read about the author. I am wondering if some of the people here at CN could work on a new edition of the Burnham's Celestial Handbook, to keep his work alive. I work in the medical field, and it is usual that great classic books in medicine can be started in the past by an authority in the field, e.g., Harrison's Internal Medicine, or Rosai & Ackerman Surgical pathology, both textbooks that are now continued in new editions by new authors keeping the original styles.
I think that Burnham's second edition could be updated with new astronomical knowledge, tables and coordinates can be also updated, new images could be added, etc. I don't know who could work in this project, but I know that many of the people in this forum have the knowledge to work on a second edition of Burnham's celestial handbook, like Bill Paolini, just to cite one name.


If you like Bunhams, try and find a copy of Deep Sky Womders by Walter Houston. Sky and Telescope produced a copy that was edited by Stephen O’Meara that you will probably enjoy. Walter Scott Houston was a fabulous writer so sadly passed away around 20-25 years ago.
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#10 Pat Rochford

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Posted 09 September 2021 - 01:30 PM

Amateur astronomy isn't astronomy anymore. It's merely become a form of IT astronomy.

Thank you.


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#11 Doraemon

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Posted 10 September 2021 - 07:15 AM

I am sorry, I am newbie.  I don't understand why there is opposition to update a classic textbook with a new edition.  In "professional" science (at least what I know, biology and medicine), this is normal.  To give you an example, in diagnostic clinical pathology there are several texts, some are focused on descriptions of pathological tissue samples at the microscope (including shapes, colors at the eyepiece), while others are more focused on molecular data including math, and less on descriptions.  For our work and for study, we need both types.  Rosai& Ackerman's book is an example of old microscope descriptions.  This style is still appreciated in modern times, despite of molecular diagnostics.  The first edition of this book was in 1953, today the book is in its 11th edition, written by new authors with updated information but keeping the same original style rich on microscopic descriptions, including keeping parts of the original text when still valid today.  Being an outsider (or newbie), I don't understand why there is reluctance to work on a new edition of the Burnham's Celestial Handbook with updated information, but keeping the same style, including the original descriptions by Robert Burnham but just updating data and tables.  Again, in the scientific world this is accepted and normal.  As in modern scientific texts, it cannot be done by one person.  The usual approach is to have few head editors working with a team of authors who distribute the text in sections to review and update, while the head editors review and make sure that the distinct style of the book is preserved.  

I am sure that Robert Burnham would love to see his text revived in a fresh edition. To me, this is the best text of descriptive astronomy, at least for a newbie like me. I agree with Daniel that many of the texts today are too focused on techniques rather than descriptive astronomy at the eyepiece.  


Edited by Doraemon, 10 September 2021 - 07:18 AM.

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#12 BradFran

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Posted 10 September 2021 - 07:29 AM

Burnham himself published the first edition in a ring binder so that pages could be added and replaced as necessary. He might have agreed with you. However, the finished work took on a poetic character that is very special to the community. I can't imagine a committee updating it substantially while keeping the prose intact. If you could get Dover Publications to update the data, coordinates and tables, I think the community would be very happy. They revised it at least once in 1978 and don't seem to be interested in investing more into the project, nor giving up the rights to someone who might (AAS???).

 

Here is a prior discussion (one of many) to shed some light on the issue:

www.cloudynights.com/topic/690476-burnhams-celestial-handbooks

 

Here is a good article about the author:

tonyortega.org/sky-writer-the-cosmic-life-of-celestial-handbook-author-robert-burnham-jr

 

Give the "Annals of the Deep Sky" series a gander, it is probably just what you are looking for. It too is organized alphabetically by constellation. Volume 8 Cygnus should be coming out soon. If you want more eyepiece oriented observations, "Night Sky Observer's Guide" (vol 1-4) is excellent. Both series should be available again next month from Sky Publishing (AAS). aas.org/willbell

 

Another option is Steve O'Meara's "Deep-Sky Companions" series from Cambridge University Press, which contains good descriptions and wonderful small aperture sketches. Start with The Messier Objects.


Edited by BradFran, 10 September 2021 - 07:53 AM.

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#13 Daniel Mounsey

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Posted 10 September 2021 - 08:54 AM

Doraemon,

I share your view and believe me, I too would love more than anything for others to join forces and take interest in such a project. The problem you and I are faced with is the modern mentality of digital means. The number one reason is because everyone will say they can get updated information on the internet. What those thinkers either ignore or no longer care about is the romance or the the passion to appreciate what is seen with the human eye and to appreciate the most subtle of things seen at the eyepiece. 

 

"The observer who sits in quiet contemplation of what they can see at the eyepiece will be in direct contact with cosmic things... Robert Burnham Jr."

 

The links below are an example of the modern mentality you and I are up against and look how many followers agree. It's nothing more than a mob of celestial paparazzi who have next to zero interest in understanding RBj's deeper message. 

 

https://www.youtube....bkbU2KULQ&t=27s

 

https://up-magazine....azzi-personnel/

 

Sadly our industry has turned into a marketeering, digital nightmare and I'm getting out of it for that reason. It has been mobbed by dead souls as far as I'm concerned with nothing more than an interest to digitize everything until analogue is nonexistent altogether. At the time in which RBj conducted his work, he completed Lowell's sky survey over the course of 20 years in which he took notes for BCH. In that time, BCH had a purpose before the internet but you and I are the minority. You wouldn't believe what life in this industry is like now. When I worked in retail sales back in the day before all this digital stuff came to fruition, real observers would walk in to discuss deep sky maps, astronomy books, literature, history, eyepieces, optics and telescopes to see the objects they read about. All the discussions were about observation and a genuine curiosity to look up at the night sky and wonder.

 

Today, it is nothing more than a mob of celestial paparazzi who want nothing more than to take another loud, saturated picture of M31 and they're a dime a dozen these days. I use to host my own star parties for several years and as time went on, I learned that I could no longer talk about astronomy anymore because I was constantly interrupted by individuals who were more obsessed with technology problems that consumed more time than astronomy itself. At some point, you have to ask yourself if this is really amateur astronomy. Am I an observer who discusses what it is we are looking at? Or, am I an astro IT guy? If astrophotographers wish to spend their entire nights fighting over software issues, all the power to them but that isn't what RBj is about. RBj is all about what these people are far removed from and it's only getting worse. Nobody cares anymore. It's all about flashy photos and software problems now. Astro Imaging is so primitive now and it's got a long way to go. 

 

In the meantime, I'll still be reading BCH, quietly in the corner of a coffee house.


Edited by Daniel Mounsey, 10 September 2021 - 07:24 PM.

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#14 sanbai

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Posted 10 September 2021 - 10:35 AM

I do have the books, although I haven't read much of it yet.

There's a substantial difference between a college textbook and Burham's work.
The first is a professional work for (future) professionals. Usually the first author does the updates, at least at the first ones. Their revenue is substantial and publishers are also very interested in those updates. The goal is clear: teaching.

BCH is a one man book for the amateur community. It has a very particular style linked to the author and such is an attraction per se. I would even say that this is today's main point of the book! Updates are so long due that basically you can better start from scratch.

Also, today there are many alternatives that were not present at that time. Uranometria, NSOGs, Annals (in the works), digital sky atlases like sky safari, observing planners software, O'Meara's series, the whole internet...

So, indeed, I don't see the point of an update.

Edited by sanbai, 10 September 2021 - 10:41 AM.

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#15 BFaucett

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Posted 10 September 2021 - 09:10 PM

I thought some here might find this to be of interest.
 

 

lowell-cosmic.jpg

 

Cosmic Coffee, Cup No. 31 | Triumph and Tragedy: Robert Burnham, Jr. and his Celestial Handbook

uploaded to YouTube on Jan 28, 2021
YouTube channel: Lowell Observatory

 

"Cosmic Coffee explores a different topic in astronomy or planetary science each week. This week, Lowell Observatory Director Dr. Jeff Hall talks with Lowell Historian Kevin Schindler about Robert Burnham, Jr. and his Celestial Handbook. Burnham's Celestial Handbook is a classic astronomy compendium that has inspired space enthusiasts for decades, but the man who wrote it lived an enigmatic and, in the end, tragic life."

 

Video link:  https://www.youtube....wellObservatory

 
 
Lowell Observatory's YouTube channel: https://www.youtube....Observatory1894
 
Lowell Observatory: https://lowell.edu/
 
Cheers! Bob F. smile.gif


Edited by BFaucett, 10 September 2021 - 09:17 PM.

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#16 Crusty99

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Posted 11 September 2021 - 04:23 AM

BFaucett,

Thanks for producing and posting the Cosmic Coffee, Cup N. 31 | Triumph and Tragedy: Robert Burnham, Jr. and his Celestial Handbook. Lots of good information.

 

*****

 

And yes, I also cast my vote to preserve the Celestial Handbook as Robert Burnham, Jr. created it many years ago. 


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#17 Doraemon

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Posted 11 September 2021 - 08:24 AM

Thank you for sharing the Cosmic Coffee, I didn't know about that. 

I understand and respect the opinion of the people who prefers to preserve his work as it is.  However, I still think that a nice way to honor him is to continue his legacy with newer editions of his book, under his name but with new editors and authors, for the newest generations.  I am sure that he would like to see his book as a living creation, continuing to teach the beauty of visual astronomy to newbies like me.

Gear and techniques will be always transient and outdated, and always replaced by new technology.  Visual astronomy will remain forever, the joy of learning to find and observe a new object at the eyepiece and learn about it, as described in BCH.  I am a newbie and I would feel sorry if BCH is forgotten in the future, like a historical curiosity for very few people interested in old classic books.  I would like to see it renewed, teaching to new generations, I think the author deserves this and I am sure he will be pleased to see his creation alive and refreshed, inspiring new generations of newbies like me and those in the future.   



#18 Daniel Mounsey

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Posted 11 September 2021 - 08:27 AM

BFaucett, on 10 Sept 2021 - 7:10 PM, said:

I thought some here might find this to be of interest.


lowell-cosmic.jpg


Cosmic Coffee, Cup No. 31 | Triumph and Tragedy: Robert Burnham, Jr. and his Celestial Handbook

uploaded to YouTube on Jan 28, 2021
YouTube channel: Lowell Observatory


"Cosmic Coffee explores a different topic in astronomy or planetary science each week. This week, Lowell Observatory Director Dr. Jeff Hall talks with Lowell Historian Kevin Schindler about Robert Burnham, Jr. and his Celestial Handbook. Burnham's Celestial Handbook is a classic astronomy compendium that has inspired space enthusiasts for decades, but the man who wrote it lived an enigmatic and, in the end, tragic life."


Video link: https://www.youtube....wellObservatory



Lowell Observatory's YouTube channel: https://www.youtube....Observatory1894

Lowell Observatory: https://lowell.edu/

Cheers! Bob F. smile.gif
Yea I saw this a little while back. Very nice and thanks for sharing.
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#19 Starman1

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Posted 12 September 2021 - 10:14 AM

I am relatively newbie and discovered this awesome book. I also read about the author.  I am wondering if some of the people here at CN could work on a new edition of the Burnham's Celestial Handbook, to keep his work alive.  I work in the medical field, and it is usual that great classic books in medicine can be started in the past by an authority in the field, e.g., Harrison's Internal Medicine, or Rosai & Ackerman Surgical pathology, both textbooks that are now continued in new editions by new authors keeping the original styles. 

I think that Burnham's second edition could be updated with new astronomical knowledge, tables and coordinates can be also updated, new images could be added, etc.  I don't know who could work in this project, but I know that many of the people in this forum have the knowledge to work on a second edition of Burnham's celestial handbook, like Bill Paolini, just to cite one name.

Burnham's is a classic, with a lot of dated information, but still great to read.

There is no reason to update it because updated observing guides have already been published.

 

A more modern observation guide classic is the 4 volume "Night Sky Observer's Guide", currently out of print but coming back soon from ShopatSky.com

 

Another new version to replace Burnhams, where current astrophysical knowledge is included for a handful of objects in each constellation is "Annals of the Deep Sky".

These are also out of print right now but will be coming back from ShopatSky.com fairly soon.  7 of the projected 20 volumes have been printed, 8-10 are finished and waiting.

These will be the modern updated Burnhams.

 

Burnham's is a great shelf-mate to the Reverend Webb's 2-volume guide from the 19th Century: "Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes"


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#20 Starman1

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Posted 12 September 2021 - 10:26 AM

I am sorry, I am newbie.  I don't understand why there is opposition to update a classic textbook with a new edition.  In "professional" science (at least what I know, biology and medicine), this is normal.  To give you an example, in diagnostic clinical pathology there are several texts, some are focused on descriptions of pathological tissue samples at the microscope (including shapes, colors at the eyepiece), while others are more focused on molecular data including math, and less on descriptions.  For our work and for study, we need both types.  Rosai& Ackerman's book is an example of old microscope descriptions.  This style is still appreciated in modern times, despite of molecular diagnostics.  The first edition of this book was in 1953, today the book is in its 11th edition, written by new authors with updated information but keeping the same original style rich on microscopic descriptions, including keeping parts of the original text when still valid today.  Being an outsider (or newbie), I don't understand why there is reluctance to work on a new edition of the Burnham's Celestial Handbook with updated information, but keeping the same style, including the original descriptions by Robert Burnham but just updating data and tables.  Again, in the scientific world this is accepted and normal.  As in modern scientific texts, it cannot be done by one person.  The usual approach is to have few head editors working with a team of authors who distribute the text in sections to review and update, while the head editors review and make sure that the distinct style of the book is preserved.  

I am sure that Robert Burnham would love to see his text revived in a fresh edition. To me, this is the best text of descriptive astronomy, at least for a newbie like me. I agree with Daniel that many of the texts today are too focused on techniques rather than descriptive astronomy at the eyepiece.  

1) Because the author is gone.

2) Because many updated observing guides HAVE been published.  You just might not be aware of them.

3) Because, like Reverend Webb's guides, there is really no reason to update Burnhams.  It stands alone as a memento of a time.

If it speaks to you, that is good, because it indicates there is some poetry in your soul, but it is just a milestone along the road, not an end point.

Issuing a new edition with more up-to-date science in it is unnecessary for the visual observer, as, even, are updating coordinates to era 2025.

It is not a textbook needing updating for the student.  It is simply an observing guide by someone who loved the sky.

It could be updated, but I hope it is not.  That would be like "updating" many of the classics of literature for the modern sensibility, shudder.


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#21 AndyHengst

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Posted 13 September 2021 - 06:13 PM

I'm a new owner of the 3-volume set and look forward to reading these. I have many other more modern books, and I've seen "too many" of the beautiful nebula pictures in magazines. The University text I used 35 years ago was published in the same year (1978) and I don't wish for it to be updated.

Before reading Burnham, I wanted to figure out a few things about the other (older) edition I had (never really appreciating what it was I picked up from that library sale), and that took me to CN and the many interesting posts about the Celestial Handbook.

 

Just because the technologies allow for imaging to be done doesn't mean we all go that route. Even at today's star parties there are the imagers and the observers, and we all seem to get along just fine. Maybe it's because we are outside, the Canada Geese were off in the distance, the breeze was blowing, and everyone is catching up (relatively safely) after a year and a half of covid restrictions. But I've been to many star parties and never notice any animosity between these groups. Maybe it's because we're Canadians, ha ha.

 

This question is a valid question to ask.  Updating to make a "3rd edition" doesn't seem quite right, many reasons were already given.

But there might be a way for the technology we do have, could one day be used, providing the copyright owners can be convinced...

I am fascinated by the progress throughout history of many of the sciences, and here is an opportunity to annotate the original pages (the ones in the 1978 edition), in electronic form. Highlight the errors, highlight the updated statistics, add links to more modern views, and add links to other online sources or shortcuts to views given by popular planetarium software.

As a reader I'd like to know if something written in 1966 or 1978 was wrong with respect to current knowledge.

 

Possibly a project like this could take the form of "errata" collected in a wiki, without trying to re-do what is a very fine piece of work.

 

Andy Hengst

Edmonton AB Canada



#22 Starman1

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Posted 13 September 2021 - 06:37 PM

If you'd like more current astrophysical information than a guide written in the '60s, simply look up the info on line,

or wait for the Annals of the Deep Sky to come back into print at Sky&Tel.

If you would like to do a more updated version of Burnham's and host it on the web, have at it.

In 40-50 years, the information in books published this year will be dated.  It would be an endless project.



#23 turtle86

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Posted 14 September 2021 - 11:39 AM

I am sorry, I am newbie.  I don't understand why there is opposition to update a classic textbook with a new edition.  In "professional" science (at least what I know, biology and medicine), this is normal.  To give you an example, in diagnostic clinical pathology there are several texts, some are focused on descriptions of pathological tissue samples at the microscope (including shapes, colors at the eyepiece), while others are more focused on molecular data including math, and less on descriptions.  For our work and for study, we need both types.  Rosai& Ackerman's book is an example of old microscope descriptions.  This style is still appreciated in modern times, despite of molecular diagnostics.  The first edition of this book was in 1953, today the book is in its 11th edition, written by new authors with updated information but keeping the same original style rich on microscopic descriptions, including keeping parts of the original text when still valid today.  Being an outsider (or newbie), I don't understand why there is reluctance to work on a new edition of the Burnham's Celestial Handbook with updated information, but keeping the same style, including the original descriptions by Robert Burnham but just updating data and tables.  Again, in the scientific world this is accepted and normal.  As in modern scientific texts, it cannot be done by one person.  The usual approach is to have few head editors working with a team of authors who distribute the text in sections to review and update, while the head editors review and make sure that the distinct style of the book is preserved.  

I am sure that Robert Burnham would love to see his text revived in a fresh edition. To me, this is the best text of descriptive astronomy, at least for a newbie like me. I agree with Daniel that many of the texts today are too focused on techniques rather than descriptive astronomy at the eyepiece.  

 

I think the classic version of BCH still stands on its own as a classic, but if an updated version (with updated data and tables but preserving Burnham's descriptions and writing style) ever came out, I'd be the first in line to buy it.


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#24 ShaulaB

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Posted 14 September 2021 - 12:13 PM

Economics. A medical textbook can be had for hundreds of dollars. I taught nursing students for decades, and even anatomy texts at their level cost hundreds of dollars. Profit going to the publisher makes updated versions more likely in fields like medicine or engineering than in amateur astronomy.

Few amateur astronomers will gladly pay hundreds of dollars for an updated BCH. Back in the 80's, I got my three volume set for $1 as an incentive to buy other books from WB. The geezers among us won't want to pay what it would cost to get an updated BCH into production.

My solution is to buy science-major introductory astronomy textbooks every few years to keep up with the latest information. Non-major intro astro textbooks would work for the math-phobic. Doing a search on a university bookstore website and you will find what professors are using. Then look for used versions of a book you want to save some money.

Younger astronomers grew up with the Internet. The online platforms, when chosen wisely, have more than enough current information to keep a person occupied for a long time. I doubt many younger astronomers would pay big bucks for an updated BCH. Such an endeavor would be outdated in maybe 5 years anyway, at the rate discoveries are made now. Hopefully, the James Web Space Telescope's findings will give many new insights which we yet can't imagine.
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#25 swalker

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Posted 14 September 2021 - 02:21 PM

Economics. A medical textbook can be had for hundreds of dollars. I taught nursing students for decades, and even anatomy texts at their level cost hundreds of dollars. Profit going to the publisher makes updated versions more likely in fields like medicine or engineering than in amateur astronomy.

Few amateur astronomers will gladly pay hundreds of dollars for an updated BCH. Back in the 80's, I got my three volume set for $1 as an incentive to buy other books from WB. The geezers among us won't want to pay what it would cost to get an updated BCH into production.

My solution is to buy science-major introductory astronomy textbooks every few years to keep up with the latest information. Non-major intro astro textbooks would work for the math-phobic. Doing a search on a university bookstore website and you will find what professors are using. Then look for used versions of a book you want to save some money.

Younger astronomers grew up with the Internet. The online platforms, when chosen wisely, have more than enough current information to keep a person occupied for a long time. I doubt many younger astronomers would pay big bucks for an updated BCH. Such an endeavor would be outdated in maybe 5 years anyway, at the rate discoveries are made now. Hopefully, the James Web Space Telescope's findings will give many new insights which we yet can't imagine.

You didn't buy it from WB, you got it from Dover Publishing.




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