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Astronomy magazine Complete Star Atlas

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#1 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 03:26 AM

Does anyone have /Astronomy/ magazine's /Complete Star Atlas/ by Michael Backich?

 

Does it use white stars on a black background or black stars on a white background?

 

How does it compare to other star atlases?

 

It looks like this might just be a paperback book version of the /Astronomy/ magazine Special Issue "Atlas of the Stars" (also by Bakich).

 

Notably, it has over twice as many stars than the atlas from /Sky & Telescope/: 87,000 stars versus 30,000 stars.

 

https://www.myscienc...duct/book/81372

 

https://www.myscienc...vt-as01171001-c


Edited by Nicole Sharp, 01 December 2021 - 03:28 AM.


#2 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 03:31 AM

I was able to find one negative review from Australia:

 

"This is a useless atlas charts are too complex and not clearly explained. It would do better to not have a black background for the star charts and each constellation should have its own page along with larger scale pages also. Very hard to use. It's a disaster. Do not buy this abomination!"

 

https://www.booktopi...1627007757.html

 

I can't really find anything similar that shows stars down to magnitude +8.5 in that price range though.  Would it really be so bad to have white stars on a black background?

 

The official product description from /Astronomy/ magazine says that it has "easy-to ready [sic] star maps optimized for use with red flashlights" despite being white stars on a black background.


Edited by Nicole Sharp, 01 December 2021 - 03:32 AM.


#3 wrvond

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 03:39 AM

White stars on black background are the best under red light.

 

As for the atlas itself, the description doesn’t impress me too much- it seems there is a lot of superfluous information aimed at the neophyte. Kind of like buying a Rand McNally road atlas that includes information on how to drive your car.


Edited by wrvond, 01 December 2021 - 03:45 AM.


#4 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 03:45 AM

White stars on black background are the best under red light.

 

I didn't know that.  Why do people usually say that black stars on a white background are better then?  Is that just for reading with a white-light flashlight?

 

From Highpoint Scientific:

 

"Stars represented as black dots on a white background.... makes the chart a lot easier to read when you’re outside at night."

 

https://www.highpoin...read-star-chart


Edited by Nicole Sharp, 01 December 2021 - 03:50 AM.


#5 wrvond

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 03:50 AM

Under a red light black absorbs the light while white reflects it. So black stars on white paper look like little holes under the red light while white stars against black look more like actual objects to our eye.



#6 wrvond

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 03:52 AM

I suspect that white on black atlases have largely disappeared because it takes a lot more ink to make a black page than a white one.


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#7 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 03:54 AM

So if you have free printing at the public library, should you print star maps as white stars on a black background or black stars on a white background?

 

It sounds like they would be about the same then?  When would black stars on a white background be better than white stars on a black background?  Why does Highpoint Scientific say that black stars on a white background is better than vice versa?


Edited by Nicole Sharp, 01 December 2021 - 03:56 AM.


#8 starblue

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 03:57 AM

I have wondered the same thing. I have the "Atlas of the Stars", and the description of the "Complete Star Atlas" in Astronomy's online store looks identical to the blurbs on the cover of the Atlas of the Stars. I wish they gave a few example pages of the maps themselves.

 

There's been 2 versions of the AOTS that I know of--the second one was expanded to 87,000 stars and >1200 DSO's. Personally, I think it's a worthwhile addition to one's library with lots of object descriptions and data tables. The AOTS has white stars on a black background. If the CSA is an expanded version of AOTS I would consider getting it.

 

As for white stars on black or black stars on white, it's personal preference. I found white stars on black background harder to read under a dim red light, but the atlas I was using at the time (Peterson's) also had small print, so that might have been part of it. The latest version of Peterson's uses colored stars (per their spectral classes) on a white background, and the colors were chosen to remain visible under a red light (they made that mistake once, too, in one edition). 


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#9 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 04:02 AM

I found this:

 

https://www.fourmila...p/controls.html

 

"Black on white background.  This is the traditional choice for printed star atlases.  If you're planning to print the chart on a black and white printer, this is usually the best choice.  The white background allows you to write on the map, and keeps the background from using up lots of ink or toner in your printer."

 

"White on black background.  Many astronomers find charts with white stars and text on a black background easier to read with the dim red flashlights they use at the telescope to preserve night vision.  Your Sky will produce sky maps in this form, but if you're planning to print the resulting charts, ponder the consequences for your printer.  All of that black has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is generally your printer's ink or toner cartridge.  Making lots of white on black maps can use up cartridges at a prodigious rate compared to printing normal text."

 

So Fourmilab agrees with what you said.  But that doesn't explain why Highpoint Scientific says the opposite?  Is it just a myth then that black stars on a white background are easier to see?  People might assume that because that's the format that professional atlases use, which might simply be to save on ink costs and not for readability?


Edited by Nicole Sharp, 01 December 2021 - 04:03 AM.

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#10 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 04:07 AM

I have wondered the same thing. I have the "Atlas of the Stars", and the description of the "Complete Star Atlas" in Astronomy's online store looks identical to the blurbs on the cover of the Atlas of the Stars. I wish they gave a few example pages of the maps themselves.

 

There's been 2 versions of the AOTS that I know of--the second one was expanded to 87,000 stars and >1200 DSO's. Personally, I think it's a worthwhile addition to one's library with lots of object descriptions and data tables. The AOTS has white stars on a black background. If the CSA is an expanded version of AOTS I would consider getting it.

 

As for white stars on black or black stars on white, it's personal preference. I found white stars on black background harder to read under a dim red light, but the atlas I was using at the time (Peterson's) also had small print, so that might have been part of it. The latest version of Peterson's uses colored stars (per their spectral classes) on a white background, and the colors were chosen to remain visible under a red light (they made that mistake once, too, in one edition). 

 

I also have the 2006 Special Issue.  I am assuming that the 2020 paperback book is the same as the 2010 Special Issue (also by Bakich), which expanded the contents of the 2006 Special Issue from 45,000 stars (down to magnitude +8.0) to 87,000 stars (down to magnitude +8.5).

 

I agree with the Australian reviewer that the organization makes it difficult to use.  But my main complaint is just the flimsy magazine binding.  I don't really use it much because I am afraid it will fall apart.


Edited by Nicole Sharp, 01 December 2021 - 04:08 AM.


#11 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 04:10 AM

For 87,000 stars, it's only 160 pages.  That's over 500 stars per page.  Not sure how that will affect readability.



#12 wrvond

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 04:15 AM

Marketing has to say something to make you buy their atlas.

 

Here's what a white on black looks like:

 

whiteonblack.jpg

 

It's from the Field Edition of SkyAtlas 2000.0. Now, I don't know the size of that page or the size of the print, but it has exactly the same amount of information as my Deluxe Edition of SkyAtlas 2000.0 which is a fold out page - the chart in mine measures about 20x14 inches. I suspect the Field Edition measures more like 10x14 in order to be more convenient to use at the scope.

 

My Interstellarum Deep Sky Atlas uses colors and finishes that are optimized for use under red light. I think this is a much newer technology than the old school white on black atlases and we're likely to see more of this style atlas in the future.

 

For my money, the Cambridge, Willmann-Bell and Sky & Telescope atlases are the best. 



#13 wrvond

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 04:18 AM

For 87,000 stars, it's only 160 pages.  That's over 500 stars per page.  Not sure how that will affect readability.

The Interstellarum Deep Sky Atlas only shows the objects that you can actually see. It's a great reference.

 

I rarely use paper atlases at the scope though, since the advent of iPads and phones with a variety of planetarium apps available.



#14 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 04:18 AM

I have wondered the same thing. I have the "Atlas of the Stars", and the description of the "Complete Star Atlas" in Astronomy's online store looks identical to the blurbs on the cover of the Atlas of the Stars. I wish they gave a few example pages of the maps themselves.

 

There's been 2 versions of the AOTS that I know of--the second one was expanded to 87,000 stars and >1200 DSO's. Personally, I think it's a worthwhile addition to one's library with lots of object descriptions and data tables. The AOTS has white stars on a black background. If the CSA is an expanded version of AOTS I would consider getting it.

 

As for white stars on black or black stars on white, it's personal preference. I found white stars on black background harder to read under a dim red light, but the atlas I was using at the time (Peterson's) also had small print, so that might have been part of it. The latest version of Peterson's uses colored stars (per their spectral classes) on a white background, and the colors were chosen to remain visible under a red light (they made that mistake once, too, in one edition). 

I think it might be an upgrade other than the binding.  I just noticed that the 2020 edition is 120 pages but the 2010 edition is 100 pages.  So there is an extra 20 pages in the book version versus the 2010 Special Issue.  I would hope that Bakich wouldn't publish the exact same work 10 years later without making a few other updates maybe.  The 2006 Special Issue is also 100 pages.



#15 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 04:23 AM

The 2006 Special Issue is in color.  There are yellow and blue stars but nothing in red.  Presumably the 2010 and 2020 versions are the same.


Edited by Nicole Sharp, 01 December 2021 - 04:28 AM.


#16 wrvond

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 04:24 AM

The thing is, pretty much all the work of sky atlases is derivative. The author is most likely to start with their earlier version, make corrections and add any new information from various sources, then repackage it to make it "new and improved" in some way.



#17 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 04:33 AM

Specifically for star atlases under US$30 (new or used), I can't find anything else that shows stars down to magnitude +8.5?

 

The main value of this atlas is likely just that you can get lots of stars for a low cost.  I primarily want to use this with a 7X50 binocular or 9X50 finderscope (visual limiting magnitude of +10).

 

/The Observer's Sky Atlas: Third Edition/ (Springer, 2007) only shows stars down to magnitude +6.0.

 

/The Cambridge Star Atlas: Fourth Edition/ (2011) only shows stars down to magnitude +6.5.

 

/Norton's Star Atlas and Reference Handbook: 20th Edition/ (2003) only shows stars down to magnitude +6.5.

 

The /Pocket Sky Atlas: Second Edition/ (2006) from /Sky & Telescope/ only shows stars down to magnitude +7.6.


Edited by Nicole Sharp, 01 December 2021 - 04:55 AM.


#18 wrvond

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 04:45 AM

Specifically for star atlases under US$30 (new or used), I can't find anything else that shows stars down to magnitude +8.5?

 

The main value of this atlas is likely just that you can get lots of stars for a low cost.  I primarily want to use this with a 7X50 binocular or 9X50 finderscope (visual limiting magnitude of +10).

Here's a 2007 edition of the Pocket Sky Atlas:

https://www.ebay.com...r0aAhGTEALw_wcB


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#19 Corcaroli78

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 04:48 AM

I had the Astronomy Magazine special issue (2018 or 19) with the sky atlas . The sky is covered in 24 two page charts with explanatory sections for the objects. The sky background is dark blue and for the stars it shows their spectral colors (O, B, A......). 

 

The constellation lines are light turquoise and the nebulosity of some areas and the milky way is shown in light blue. It does not look bad, but under night sky is almost useless for me due to the density of stars. I would rather prefer the color schema of the S&T charts. 

 

Ultimately, i use the PSA and the Deep Sky Reisefuhrer which is white background and black stars. They never failed to me   

 

Carlos


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#20 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 05:09 AM

/The Great Atlas of the Stars/ (2001) looks like it might show stars below magnitude +8.5, but it appears to be a photographic star atlas instead of a traditional star atlas.  I think that would be more difficult to use.

 

In terms of limiting magnitude, it looks like the next step up in price after /The Complete Star Atlas/ is /Interstellarium/.  You get over twice as many stars (200,000 versus 87,000), but it costs over twice as much.  A limiting magnitude of +8.5 seems more reasonable on a budget, and lighter in weight to carry around.


Edited by Nicole Sharp, 01 December 2021 - 05:10 AM.


#21 Ljubo

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 07:05 AM

 

Specifically for star atlases under US$30 (new or used), I can't find anything else that shows stars down to magnitude +8.5?

 

The main value of this atlas is likely just that you can get lots of stars for a low cost.  I primarily want to use this with a 7X50 binocular or 9X50 finderscope (visual limiting magnitude of +10).

Don't know your Bortle skies, but I suspect VLM +10 is for Bortle 1 (hard to match, agree?)

 

I use PSA with 8x50 finderscope (this one) and it is a perfect match!

Being that you're about to use it with the similar equipment, I should go for it, no dispute (I have used this combo for almost 2  last decades, flawlessly).



#22 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 08:35 AM

Don't know your Bortle skies, but I suspect VLM +10 is for Bortle 1 (hard to match, agree?)

 

I use PSA with 8x50 finderscope (this one) and it is a perfect match!

Being that you're about to use it with the similar equipment, I should go for it, no dispute (I have used this combo for almost 2  last decades, flawlessly).

/Pocket Sky Atlas/ from /Sky & Telescope/ has a limiting magnitude of +7.6.  There are over twice as many stars at +8.5 (Complete Star Atlas) than there are at +7.6 (Pocket Sky Atlas).  Each magnitude step approximately doubles the star count since the magnitude scale is logarithmic.  So it might actually not be redundant to have multiple star atlases, such as at about +6.5 (e.g. Cambridge Star Atlas), +7.5 (e.g. Pocket Sky Atlas), +8.5 (e.g. Complete Star Atlas), and +9.5 (e.g. Interstellarium).  Each atlas should allow you to navigate closer to your target object depending on what equipment you are using.


Edited by Nicole Sharp, 01 December 2021 - 08:36 AM.


#23 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 08:53 AM

If you want to get this, it's on sale right now from Target until December 4.  It is $5 off the already discounted new price, and then an additional 5% off if you have Target RedCard.

 

https://www.target.c...k-/-/A-83105680


Edited by Nicole Sharp, 01 December 2021 - 08:59 AM.


#24 Tony Flanders

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 08:58 AM

The thing is, pretty much all the work of sky atlases is derivative. The author is most likely to start with their earlier version, make corrections and add any new information from various sources, then repackage it to make it "new and improved" in some way.

I assume you're talking about books that are specifically marketed as different revisions of the same work. Just to take one example, there have been numerous printings of Sky & Telescope's Pocket Sky Atlas. They are indeed all incremental changes to the same base work, with various errors fixed and a few new plates added when the Jumbo Pocket Sky Atlas was first printed.

 

On the other hand, the second edition of Sky Atlas 2000.0 was produced from scratch, inspired but not really based upon the first edition. The first edition was hand-plotted by Wil Tirion. The second edition was computer-generated by Roger Sinnott, and then Sinnot and Tirion collaborated on labeling, beautification, and all those little details that distinguish a great work from a mediocre one.

 

Atlases that are published as brand-new works are almost always done from scratch these days.


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#25 Napp

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 08:59 AM

The TriAtlas Project is three sets of charts going down to mag 9, mag 11 and mag 12.6.  The project was apparently discontinued but you can still access downloads at https://allans-stuff.com/triatlas/.


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