Binocular Astronomy 1st edition by Craig Crossen as well as Sky Vistas by Craig Crossen are masterpieces. Craig had informed me he had nothing to do with the 2nd edition, so out of respect, I only use the 1st edition as it his work. Craig is a wonderful guy I've had several exchanges with in the past and he does chime in here on CN from time to time and for me it's a great honor. Were it not for his amazing work, my knowledge of rich field observation would be in the dumps. We are fortunate to have had such amazing mentors like him. Robert Burnham Jr. was a huge influence to Craig Crossen and myself as well. Craig even credits Burnham Jr. in his own guidebooks and thanks him.
I'll be posting detailed videos on each of these these books very shortly, hopefully by mid Feb which will have very few if any subscribers because I already know most enthusiasts don't care about this kind of information. IMO, observing guides should be cherished and used with great attention and respect because they are written by masters who really understand the night sky in unique and unusual ways and the information for the most part is excellent, granted some astrophysical information changes over time BUT, the most important thing is they teach you what questions to ask yourself. Burnham Jr. and Craig have an extremely unique writing style that allows the reader to actually observe the night sky in three dimensions. NOT two!
That means when you stare up, you can actually visualize that our solar system is slightly perpendicular to the plane of the Milky Way galaxy. This is why the zodiacal light slashes through our edge-on perspective of the Milky Way. You learn what the apex of the Sun's way is as well. This is basically the direction our solar system is headed. Whenever I give public lectures on the night sky, I always want to help others understand their place in the Milky Way. To me, observation isn't just about looking at something just because it's there in the eyepiece. To me, it's appreciating more about the nature of what it is and where it is, relative to us as earthlings.
This is why I've always appreciated visual observation because even the most subtle bits of light are very special due to the deeper nature of what and where they are, relative to us. IMO, much of todays enthusiasts are allowing themselves to be controlled by just the physical appearance of things and nothing deeper than that. For example, if something is faint, they are not moved or astonished by it, but if you talk with many of the veteran deep sky observers, they truly get it and they understand and appreciate what some of the faintest and most subtle objects are. That to me is what makes an observer see and appreciate a much deeper meaning. I certainly love and appreciate the beautiful pictures from Hubble and a select few of astro-imagers, but it's important to me to keep a level head about both perspectives and sadly it's just so one sided these days and there's so much more to observation than a picture. Sadly, we live in an era where most just don't care about that.
Both Burnham Jr and Crossen understood this in spades. Sadly, we are now having so much technology thrown at our industry that many are losing their own site of understanding the astrophysical nature of the universe around us. I have a great respect when technology is used to understand the universe better, but not just a picture to entice the onlooker. That is, to sit quietly and really contemplate your own position from the smallest atom to as far outward as we can physically see. Anyway, sorry to rant, but whenever the discussion of guidebooks comes up, I have a great respect for great writers rather than just a bunch of fancy, dressed up images that are not even realistic which try to entice the onlooker rather than appreciate their deeper meaning. I always get defensive whenever others try to criticize Burnham Jr because I always feel they are not understanding the deeper intention of his masterful work and instead criticize it just because astrophysical information changes. Burnham Jr clearly stated himself that astrophysical data will always change every few years and to continue to update it.
So, I always feel compelled to defend him because he's not alive to defend himself from some of the absurd ridicule from others who don't respect or see his deeper meanings. Burnham's Celestial Handbook remains and will always remain a timeless classic from its old typewriter font all the way to its crude astro-photos by todays standards because those pictures were designed to convey a story about the nature of these objects, not just eye candy. Whenever I see diffraction spikes, imperfections or halos in Burnham's photos, I love it because I am reminded of an author that was interested more in getting YOU, the reader, interested in the deeper meaning of something that's out there. Some things have changed yes, but did you ever know a certain star or object existed in a particular constellation or part of the sky? Well now you do, and if you want to know what has changed then you can look it up on the internet, but at least he teaches you what to look at in a far more meaningful and deeper way.
Edited by Daniel Mounsey, 26 January 2022 - 06:26 AM.