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Astronomy and Science-related Book discussions

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#1 Physicsman

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Posted 20 February 2023 - 01:52 PM

I've been a CN lurker for many years and only signed-up to the Forum last Wednesday (Feb 15, 2023) in order to add my comments to a thread in the "Classic Telescopes" section.

 

I've followed discussions on equipment and books on here for a long time and the thread "What books have you recently acquired" is my kind of "good viewing". HOWEVER, it's very easy to get carried away in a thread such as that, and end-up off topic.

 

Having checked with Brent, it seemed like the solution - to allow those of us who like to pontificate on the books we LOVE, the related science (eg. geology) or technology (eg. spacecraft, planetary probes), RECOMMENDED books based on our own collections etc, was to start a wider thread.

 

If such a thread already exists, apologies - maybe we can be pointed in its direction?

 

Jeff


Edited by Physicsman, 20 February 2023 - 02:03 PM.

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#2 Guest99

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Posted 20 February 2023 - 02:13 PM

Hugh Percy Wilkins is a bit of a legend in the world of moon mapping, a few years ago the Royal Observatory Greenwich published in book form his 100 inch map of the Moon.

 

https://www.amazon.c...s/dp/1906367604

 

The ROG has got HPW's original map which this book is derived from, it has over 90 pages and raises the question is this art or science as HP named some features like O'Neil's bridge which isn't recognised by the IAU. The charts have no overlap which in places can make adjoining features difficult to pick out. Sections like the southern highlands are so incredibly cluttered it's difficult to make sense of it. 

 

So why do I love this book so much. I'm interested in TLP and the monthly list on ALPO and the BAA Lunar section contains reports from years past which require further investigation, several times I have been drawn to this book to see what HP Wilkins and Patrick Moore drew. But mostly it's to compare the features in the book with what I see through the eyepiece and I feel it gives me a better understanding of the lunar features.


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#3 Physicsman

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Posted 20 February 2023 - 02:16 PM

OK, I'm going to kick-start this thread with the question: Which Astronomy/Science books have you enjoyed reading the most in the past few months?

 

This question kind of subsumes what's your favourite/what have you bought BUT it allows any comments as to WHY - including background to be chucked in. For example, my background is in nuclear physics, so I always have a keen interest in Stellar Evolution related books - and have glanced through some of my 1970s texts recently - stuff by Meadows, Tayler, Simon Mitton etc. (used as an example - lots of detail could be added).

 

As a keen moon imager I'm always on the look out for anything that could improve my technique or inspire me. So the Luna Cognita set, or imaging stuff from Thierry Legault (eg. Astrophotography) are right down my street.

 

And anything outer-solar system related is always good ("Chasing New Horizons" - Stern/Grispoon, "Discovering Pluto" - Cruickshank/Sheehan) for example.

 

Phew!! That's a start.

 

Jeff



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Posted 20 February 2023 - 02:24 PM

Another of my favourite books is by Stephen James O'Meara in his deep sky companions series The Messier Objects.

 

As an author he is first class as he waxes lyrical over what is the most famous catalogue in astronomy, not everyone admittedly has a Takashi telescope with teleview eyepieces living half way up Mauna Kea. His descriptions are certainly different from cloudy light polluted South Wales. He explains in the beginning how he observed and with what equipment he used which in itself is fascinating. Also he explains some of the more contentious objects which differ from the other Messier lists in books like the Messier Album by Mallas & Kriemer, ( more about this later). The finder charts aren't that good but the drawings are superb and it's a treasured book on my book shelf.

 

For me it equals the Messier Album by Mallas & Kriemer, but I have a soft spot for this book as it got me interested in deep sky observing, I find it interesting to compare the descriptions between the books, and then go out and see for myself.


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#5 Physicsman

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Posted 20 February 2023 - 02:28 PM

Hugh Percy Wilkins is a bit of a legend in the world of moon mapping, a few years ago the Royal Observatory Greenwich published in book form his 100 inch map of the Moon.

 

https://www.amazon.c...s/dp/1906367604

 

The ROG has got HPW's original map which this book is derived from, it has over 90 pages and raises the question is this art or science as HP named some features like O'Neil's bridge which isn't recognised by the IAU. The charts have no overlap which in places can make adjoining features difficult to pick out. Sections like the southern highlands are so incredibly cluttered it's difficult to make sense of it. 

 

So why do I love this book so much. I'm interested in TLP and the monthly list on ALPO and the BAA Lunar section contains reports from years past which require further investigation, several times I have been drawn to this book to see what HP Wilkins and Patrick Moore drew. But mostly it's to compare the features in the book with what I see through the eyepiece and I feel it gives me a better understanding of the lunar features.

Hi Daryl.

 

I've a good selection of Patrick-related books, but The Moon (with Wilkins) and The Craters of the Moon (with Cattermole) are two I don't have.

 

Not for want of trying - I ordered the Moore/Cattermole book last autumn, via ABE, and was sent a book on antique silverware by mistake! I only wanted it for interest as the volcanic theory of crater formation, expounded by many Brits, was gradually pushed sideways.

 

The Wilkins map has always looked unusable to me - BUT I've always admired the work that Patrick and his mates put in in the libration areas - Caramuel/Einstein, Orientale, Drygalski etc has always inspired me. In particular to make a REAL effort to image just before and after full moon, along the libration terminator.

 

As for map overlap - bit annoying isn't it? The Cross "21st Century Atlas" is mucked-up by this. Much better to have a bit of overlap. Otherwise we end up with key craters such as Copernicus and Theophilus that aren't shown in their entirety! A digital Hatfield (with 2020s imagery) would be good - I'm working on a project for personal use along these lines.

 

Jeff


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#6 Guest99

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Posted 20 February 2023 - 02:29 PM

Deep Sky Wonders by Sue French is a well used book I have, she oozes enthusiasm out of each page and it's my go to book if I'm stuck for things to observe either with my telescope or with my binoculars. In there are many objects what I call off the beaten track which I have not come across before and then there plenty of asterisms which I also find interesting. It's certainly a very useful book which gives me hours of enjoyment and plenty to observe.


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#7 Guest99

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Posted 20 February 2023 - 02:33 PM

Hi Daryl.

 

I've a good selection of Patrick-related books, but The Moon (with Wilkins) and The Craters of the Moon (with Cattermole) are two I don't have.

 

Not for want of trying - I ordered the Moore/Cattermole book last autumn, via ABE, and was sent a book on antique silverware by mistake! I only wanted it for interest as the volcanic theory of crater formation, expounded by many Brits, was gradually pushed sideways.

 

The Wilkins map has always looked unusable to me - BUT I've always admired the work that Patrick and his mates put in in the libration areas - Caramuel/Einstein, Orientale, Drygalski etc has always inspired me. In particular to make a REAL effort to image just before and after full moon, along the libration terminator.

 

As for map overlap - bit annoying isn't it? The Cross "21st Century Atlas" is mucked-up by this. Much better to have a bit of overlap. Otherwise we end up with key craters such as Copernicus and Theophilus that aren't shown in their entirety! A digital Hatfield (with 2020s imagery) would be good - I'm working on a project for personal use along these lines.

 

Jeff

I've got quite a lot of Patrick's books too and also are after the one he wrote with Wilkins and with Cattermole.

 

Yes I agree the map is very difficult to use which is partly why I enjoy the challenge.

 

I've got the Hatfield book remastered by Jeremy Cook which I find quite useful as he shows the same features under different illuminations, handy for when I'm perusing the TLP reports to try and work out what they observed.


Edited by Daryl63, 21 February 2023 - 09:58 AM.


#8 Guest99

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Posted 20 February 2023 - 02:42 PM

The Astronomy of Southern Africa by Patrick Moore published in 1977 I recently managed to get, a bit dated now as some of the sites are no longer there but the history of observing from the cape is fascinating and it's a book I've longed for and very glad I managed to obtain a copy. Very well illustrated and written in the usual Patrick style which is a pleasure to read and reread. He mentioned quite a few sites I've never heard of and the often troubled history behind them.


Edited by Daryl63, 21 February 2023 - 09:59 AM.


#9 BrentKnight

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Posted 20 February 2023 - 02:47 PM

Deep Sky Wonders by Sue French is a well used book I have, she oozes enthusiasm out of each page and it's my go to book if I'm stuck for things to observe either with my telescope or with my binoculars. In there are many objects what I call off the beaten track which I have not come across before and then there plenty of asterisms which I also find interesting. It's certainly a very useful book which gives me hours of enjoyment and plenty to observe.

Sue's tenure as DSW writer was pretty great.  She was able to ferret out interesting historical tidbits along with all the interesting targets.

 

Walter Scott Houston had a different take as his tenure writing the column was at an earlier time.  When he wrote the column, DSO observing was a new thing and he was great at speaking to his audience - encouraging them to push themselves to track down these elusive and generally unknown objects.

 

They were both great writers, but Scotty's book is well worth tracking down...


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#10 Guest99

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Posted 20 February 2023 - 03:01 PM

Beyond by Stephen Walker is a good read, it covers the Soviet space programme to the death of Korolev and with him went all hopes of reaching the Moon. quite a thick book and the author has gone to great lengths to separate myth and propaganda from reality. Gagarin's flight is very well covered and so is the many accidents which the soviets tried to cover up, Gagarin's capsule was primitive to say the least and basically he was just a passenger, his flight was far from smooth and nearly ended in disaster. Over all a very informative book about the pioneering days of space flight.



#11 jcj380

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Posted 20 February 2023 - 03:03 PM

Deep Sky Wonders by Sue French [...]. In there are many objects what I call off the beaten track which I have not come across before and then there plenty of asterisms which I also find interesting. It's certainly a very useful book which gives me hours of enjoyment and plenty to observe.

I also like her "Celestial Sampler".  Same format, but softcover.


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#12 Guest99

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Posted 20 February 2023 - 03:05 PM

Rebel Star by Colin Stuart is a guide to our current understanding of the Sun, a bit of maths but none too heavy. Colin writes for the magazine Astronomy Now and explains a complex subject very well and this book will appeal to a wide audience, a slight niggle it could do with a slight update with results from the Parker Solar Probe but that doesn't detract from how useful this book is in understanding solar physics and the problems still to be resolved. Useful also for those interested in observing the Sun as it's nice to know the physics behind what you see.


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#13 scngc7317

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Posted 20 February 2023 - 03:22 PM

I have beeen colecting books all my life over half are Astronomy related

 

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Edited by scngc7317, 20 February 2023 - 03:25 PM.

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#14 WillR

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Posted 20 February 2023 - 08:22 PM

OK, I'm going to kick-start this thread with the question: Which Astronomy/Science books have you enjoyed reading the most in the past few months?

 

For example, my background is in nuclear physics, .......

Another vote for Deep Sky Wonders by Sue French and also a vote for Observing the Moon by Gerald North.

 

Both useful and both good writing. Not having a background in nuclear physics, readability is very important to me. lol.gif


Edited by WillR, 20 February 2023 - 08:23 PM.

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#15 Guest99

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Posted 21 February 2023 - 05:10 AM

20 years ago in March 2013 the space shuttle Columbia broke up as it reentered the atmosphere, I have a fascinating book Bringing Columbia Home by Mike Leinbach and Jonathan Ward gives a remarkable insight into the accident and recovery of the debris. It also goes into the background of the accident in that NASA had a very narrow escape during one of the early launches due to so many tiles falling off. Very readable book by two experts in their field as one was a NASA controller.

 

On a similar theme Truth, Lies and O Rings by Alan J McDonald and James R Hansen explore the Challenger disaster, Alan McDonald was a program manager in Morton Thikol who made the SRB's. It goes into great depth the politics and shenanigans behind the scenes and prior to and during the investigation into the accident and the aftermath.  At 656 pages it does go into a lot of detail but is fascinating and one of the best accounts of the disaster I have read, by no means is it dull and the blamestorming after the accident reads right out of a thriller novel.

 

Lift Off by Eric Berger tells the story of Elon Musk and the desperate early days of Space X, apparently it was written with his co-operation, but he doesn't come out of this very well. The technical challenges they faced were huge and the engineers were drove very hard to succeed, no surprise the company had one of the highest staff turn overs according to the book in the industry. Very interesting story of how Elon Musk changed the launch market against quite a few setbacks.


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#16 Guest99

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Posted 21 February 2023 - 06:05 AM

Fireside Astronomy by Patrick Moore and Armchair Astronomy also by Patrick are two delightful books which I have re-read often, both are packed full with a diverse selection of stories and tales concerning astronomy through the ages. Both books are timeless and written in Patricks' inimitable style, both are intended for the reader to dip in randomly and they are both informative and highly entertaining. Patrick at his very best.


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#17 Guest99

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Posted 21 February 2023 - 06:16 AM

The Planet Neptune by Patrick Moore published by John Wiley & Sons in association with Praxis Publishing is highly recommended. Much has been written about the the search for the planet Neptune but this book is one of the best I've read. Patrick draws upon first source material listed at the back of the book as he tells the tale of 2 mathematicians who worked out where it should be and the search by two different groups. Many articles and books blame Airey the astronomer royal for not acting sooner or Chalice for being a bit slow, Patrick sheds new light on this episode in history and makes some interesting comments on the behavior of the parties involved. Well worth reading and illustrated by some very good pictures.


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#18 Guest99

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Posted 21 February 2023 - 06:27 AM

The Victorian Amature Astronomer by Alan Chapman is a fascinating insight into the world long gone of the well off and not so well off astronomers in the 1800's, Alan Chapman is a very entertaining speaker and an expert in science history. His book deals with the period from 1820-1920, it's beautifully written with extensive references and tells of the challenges the amateur faced in Britain. This book don't only deal with the grand amateurs but those from a more lowly background as they faced the technological challenges with their equipment, if you wanted it you made it! This book can be appreciated by anyone with an interest in astronomy, Alan Chapman is a first class author who's writing style is both informative and entertaining, this certainly is no dry historical tome, in fact it's highly entertaining and contains many details which are normally the preserve of the academic. 


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#19 Physicsman

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Posted 21 February 2023 - 07:55 AM

A number of people, Will being the latest, have made reference to James Kaler's excellent book "The Hundred Greatest Stars" in the Recently Acquired thread.

 

Here are a couple of additional Kaler books, highly readable but also packed with scientific content. Published by CUP - I bought my copies in 2014.

 

20230221_121429 rs.jpg

 

 


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#20 Guest99

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Posted 21 February 2023 - 08:48 AM

After the Messier objects people usually gravitate towards the Caldwell objects, the usual book on them is by Stephen O'Meara in his deep sky companions series and follows a similar format to his excellent Messier Objects book.

 

However there is another book worth considering published by Springer and written by Martin Mobberley called The Caldwell Objects and how to observe them. In the introduction he acknowledges the O'Meara book but says it's impractical to take it out for an observing session as the spine breaks and pages fall out, the copy I have is soft cover and the same criticism could be applied. If Mobberley intended it to be taken outside then a spiral binding and paper which wouldn't be damaged in damp conditions, the book is more suited like the O'Meara one to be read indoors prior to observing.

 

Each object has a page to itself with a picture of the object and a finder chart which like the finder charts in the O'Meara  book are quite basic and frankly not a great deal of use. apart from the usual size and co-ordinates he lists the recommended visual aperture to observe each object, recommended filter and also recommended CCD/DLSR. The CCD/DLSR bit doesn't age well due to the ever march of technology. Then follows a description, but Mobberley's descriptions doesn't wax as lyrical as O'Meara's, but then again O'Meara is a superb wordsmith. With the O'Meara book he includes a drawing which are superb and are works of art, Mobberley includes only a picture. He says his book is aimed at the visual observer unlike in his opinion the O'Meara book which is aimed more at the imager, on this point I tend to disagree as both books serve the same audience no matter if they are visual, imager or both.

 

Which book do I prefer? well I think they are as good as each other and deserve a place on the bookshelf, if I was to have only 1 I'd choose the O'Meara book if only for the excellent prose as I enjoy his writing style, but it's a close call.


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#21 Guest99

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Posted 21 February 2023 - 10:42 AM

At the beginning of this thread I mentioned two Lunar atlases I have one by HP Wilkins and the other by Jeremey Cook the remastered Hatfield Lunar atlas, I have a few more which I find useful.

 

Anyone compiling a lunar atlas has a problem depending on who the target audience is and what instrument they use, as the image can be upside down, the wrong way around or both when compared to the map. The Hatfield atlas is available for Newtonian users and also a version for the SCT user which covers most people.

 

One atlas I do find very useful is the 21st Century Atlas of the Moon by Charles Wood and Maurice Collins, the spiral binding is a very handy feature and it's a nice big size when using at the telescope. One niggling feature is at the back where they have a list of errata, one wonders why the publishers didn't correct these if they took the time and trouble to list them. This does not detract from how useful the atlas is especially the limb features, on each area it lists the lunar 100 feature which is a list of 100 objects Wood complied on the Moon which would enable the observer to get a better understanding of our companion in space. The areas of the Moon are reproduced to a very useful size which shows the relation of the features to each other and has a good level of detail, a small full Moon map divided into grids is reproduced on each page which makes it very handy to find adjacent features.

 

I briefly mentioned the Hatfield atlas, the title of the one I have is The  Hatfield Photographic Lunar Atlas the remastered edition edited by Jeremey Cook, I will say a bit more about it here. Retired naval commander Henry Hatfield  build his own 12 inch reflecting telescope and set about capturing sections of the Moon on photographic plates in the 50's and 60's from his observatory in Sussex England. Jeremey Cook has remastered the plates and even though they are not as sharp or has the definition of modern digital images the atlas is very useful. The Moon is divided up into 16 sections which has an outline drawing and 5 or 6 photographs of the same region under different lighting conditions which shows how the appearance of the feature can change depending on the sun angle. This book is not as detailed as the one above but still useful at the eyepiece.

 

Not exactly an atlas but the late Peter Grego wrote a very useful book called The Moon and How to Observe it, he begins by giving and outline of  the formation, geology and history before going one to the map sections. He lists features depending on what aperture of equipment you have, the main section he describes the main and sometimes obscure features which are shown on an outline drawing of the Moon. These sections are quite small and large features frequently overlap to the next section, which can involve a bit of flicking backwards and forwards. The index to the features is very useful and overall I find this book very useful when planning an observing session.

 

Finally what started my telescopic interest in the Moon was Patrick Moore's Guide to the Moon 1976 edition, the outline map and descriptions at the back I have consulted so many times that I wore the book out and my wife got me another copy Moore on the Moon. His outline map I have pinned to the wall in my study and often gaze at it remembering the times when we met and to plan what features I'm going to observe. One oddity he drew a crater on the limb by the crater Gauss he called Timoleon, however looking at the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter pictures of the area its a range of hills, riles and albedo features which gives the optical illusion of a crater right on the limb.


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#22 Alex65

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Posted 21 February 2023 - 11:12 AM

I have both the original 1968 Hatfield Photographic Lunar Atlas as well as the Springer version. I still use them all the time when checking on general features on the Moon despite the, to modern eyes, poor image quality. For finer definition I use the 21st Century Atlas of the Moon when trying to identify something fainter. 

 

The book by Peter Grego is a good guide and worth having. However, an even better guide is Observing the Moon: The Modern Astronomer's Guide by Gerald North. I have the second edition which is an update on the original book. It is a jam packed 400 page guide with many illustrations, both photographs and amateur drawings. 

 

The Guide to the Moon by Moore was the first book of his that I bought after moving to the UK in the 1980s. I hadn't heard of him before and therefore don't see him in the same 'National Treasure' light as the natives here. He writes well enough but some of his ideas were a bit strange (volcanic craters, TLPs and lunar tektites just to name three). However, the general descriptions are well laid out and the map is useful. The Moon, which he co-wrote with that O'Neall bridge bore Wilkins, is worth hunting down. The maps are terrible but there are several good photographs and smaller maps, plus the information is still of value. 

 

However, for the beginner I would probably not recommend any of Moore's books (a sacrilege view here in the UK!); there are plenty of modern books which are better written (Gerald North, for example) and which contain the most recent scientific discoveries. 


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#23 Physicsman

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Posted 21 February 2023 - 11:30 AM

The Planet Neptune by Patrick Moore published by John Wiley & Sons in association with Praxis Publishing is highly recommended. Much has been written about the the search for the planet Neptune but this book is one of the best I've read. Patrick draws upon first source material listed at the back of the book as he tells the tale of 2 mathematicians who worked out where it should be and the search by two different groups. Many articles and books blame Airey the astronomer royal for not acting sooner or Chalice for being a bit slow, Patrick sheds new light on this episode in history and makes some interesting comments on the behavior of the parties involved. Well worth reading and illustrated by some very good pictures.

Daryl, here are a couple of books that link to your post.

 

20230221_161341 cr rs.jpg

 

The "Atlas of Neptune" isn't quite the same as Moore's Neptune book but the content is, inevitably, similar.

 

I'd highly recommend the book Discovering Pluto. Half the book focusses (in great detail) on the discovery of Uranus and Neptune, often with a lot of detail (also referenced) beyond the usual popular presentations (Morton Grosser's "The Discovery of Neptune" from 1962 is also worth a look).


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#24 Physicsman

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Posted 21 February 2023 - 11:38 AM

Alex, Daryl,

 

Agree with your moon atlas comments.

 

I met Henry Hatfield a couple of times in the mid 1970s at BAA meetings in London. I was always in awe of the guy, given that he'd built the telescope, observatory and camera that he used to take the emulsion-based images in his 1968 Atlas. This would be no big deal today, but for the UK in the mid 60s it was quite an achievement. His atlas is still an inspiration, though the quality is primitive by modern standards.

 

Charles Woods 21st century atlas is excellent - spiral binding really helps - but would benefit from plate overlap.

 

The Gerald North book is also very good. We're lucky to have no shortage of excellent guides to our favourite objects and it's easy to understand why Moore was such a selenophile!!


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#25 Guest99

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Posted 21 February 2023 - 02:39 PM

Daryl, here are a couple of books that link to your post.

 

attachicon.gif20230221_161341 cr rs.jpg

 

The "Atlas of Neptune" isn't quite the same as Moore's Neptune book but the content is, inevitably, similar.

 

I'd highly recommend the book Discovering Pluto. Half the book focusses (in great detail) on the discovery of Uranus and Neptune, often with a lot of detail (also referenced) beyond the usual popular presentations (Morton Grosser's "The Discovery of Neptune" from 1962 is also worth a look).

I had the Garry Hunt book as well as the ones he coauthored on the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn and the Sun published by Mitchel Beazley but gave them away during a house move when I thinned my library down. The Atlas of Neptune is a good read, I've not come across the Discovering Pluto but will add it to my list of books to get.




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