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Astronomy and Science-related Book discussions

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#26 Guest99

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Posted 21 February 2023 - 02:55 PM

Alex, Jeff

I've met Henry a couple of times at BAA meetings in London and what a very nice chap he was, he built a coelostat just outside one of the rooms in his house to observe the Sun, amazing chap. Occasionally I go through the TLP schedules published on the ALPO and BAA lunar section to see if I can contribute, for this I often use the Hatfield atlas and also HP Wilkins 100 inch map published in book form by the Royal Observatory Greenwich. The Wilkins map is incredibly cluttered and full of spurious features, it's certainly a challenge to use.

 

I haven't got the Gerald North book.... yet another one to add to my wish list.

 

One good introduction to the Moon is a recent publication called The Moon by Bill Leatherbarrow who was director of the BAA lunar section for a long time, another nice chap. 

 

One book I have is called The Moon Our Sister Planet by Peter Cadogan, he analyised  some of the Apollo samples and turned his thesis into a book back in the 80's, it still is an interesting read today.

 

In the UK we do certainly have some interesting people who write about our nearest neighbour.


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#27 yuzameh

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Posted 21 February 2023 - 04:52 PM

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.

 

attachicon.gif20230221_121429 rs.jpg

He kept it going for years, updating bit by bit, and being an emeritus professor got his uni to host it

 

http://stars.astro.i...ow/sowlist.html

 

they'll probably keep it up following his recent death

 

The style shows its age of creation a bit, but I sometimes prefer minimalist webpages relative to fancy bells and whistles ones.

 

There's links to other stuff he wrote for the site too, background stuff, eg http://stars.astro.i...ow/spectra.html

 

You can actually ending up cycling around that site for ages and still find new stuff to learn without getting bored.


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#28 WillR

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Posted 22 February 2023 - 12:51 PM

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 really have mixed feelings about this atlas. I like the inclusion of the Lunar 100 on each page and the detailed images across from each page. I find the ordering of the charts cumbersome though, especially because they in no way follow the progression of the terminator. You are jumping all over the atlas to identify features.

 

And what I really don't like is the lack of any overlap at all in the charts. Prominent features like Copernicus are literally jammed in the corners and cut off. There is no context at all. At least they include little finder charts on each page. I don't understand why they would design this with no overlap. Can you imagine if a star Atlas like the Pocket Star Atlas had no overlap? It would be unusable. Plus the plates could have been enhanced for contrast. It seems like they just took the orbiter photos unedited and put them in.

 

So overall, very disappointing. With all the errata, seems a little slapdash. I would like to see them do a revised edition and address some of these issues because a photo atlas from the orbiter plates is a good idea. It could be done a lot better though.

 

In the meantime, I will save for a Rukl.


Edited by WillR, 22 February 2023 - 12:53 PM.

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#29 Guest99

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Posted 22 February 2023 - 01:01 PM

I really have mixed feelings about this atlas. I like the inclusion of the Lunar 100 on each page and the detailed images across from each page. I find the ordering of the charts cumbersome though, especially because they in no way follow the progression of the terminator. You are jumping all over the atlas to identify features.

 

And what I really don't like is the lack of any overlap at all in the charts. Prominent features like Copernicus are literally jammed in the corners and cut off. There is no context at all. At least they include little finder charts on each page. I don't understand why they would design this with no overlap. Can you imagine if a star Atlas like the Pocket Star Atlas had no overlap? It would be unusable. Plus the plates could have been enhanced for contrast. It seems like they just took the orbiter photos unedited and put them in.

 

So overall, very disappointing. With all the errata, seems a little slapdash. I would like to see them do a revised edition and address some of these issues because a photo atlas from the orbiter plates is a good idea. It could be done a lot better though.

 

In the meantime, I will save for a Rukl.

Lack of overlap on lunar atlases seems quite common which is very frustrating, the worst I've come across is the Royal Observatory Greenwich book on Wilkins 100 inch map, trying to work out what the squiggles are is difficult enough without trying to work out what the rest of the feature is on a different page and some features spread across more than one page!

 

If they do a revised edition and fix the above I'd certainly replace mine.


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#30 WillR

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Posted 22 February 2023 - 01:34 PM

Lack of overlap on lunar atlases seems quite common which is very frustrating, the worst I've come across is the Royal Observatory Greenwich book on Wilkins 100 inch map, trying to work out what the squiggles are is difficult enough without trying to work out what the rest of the feature is on a different page and some features spread across more than one page!

 

If they do a revised edition and fix the above I'd certainly replace mine.

Not to wander too far off topic, but definitely an opportunity here. I thought of doing my own charts form the moon images, but it is daunting. I have started a big labeled poster though from the LROC image. 

 

https://quickmap.lro...dC0yioA&proj=10


Edited by WillR, 22 February 2023 - 01:37 PM.

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#31 Physicsman

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Posted 22 February 2023 - 02:32 PM

Not to wander too far off topic, but definitely an opportunity here. I thought of doing my own charts form the moon images, but it is daunting. I have started a big labeled poster though from the LROC image. 

 

https://quickmap.lro...dC0yioA&proj=10

Hi Will.

 

Can I point out that I tried to set the title of this thread to be as OPEN as possible so it was virtually impossible to "wander off thread"?

 

There is NOTHING worse, on an excellent forum like CN, than feeling penned-in when it comes to discussing stuff. So fire away!

 

I have massive respect for people like Chuck Wood and Maurice Collins. They are enthusiastic and knowledgeable and, as I said in the "newly acquired books" thread, I have greatly enjoyed Chuck's "The Moon - A Personal View".

 

HOWEVER, I do think the publishers have missed a few tricks with the 21st Century Atlas. Irrespective of the number of typos (pretty trivial to most people), I would simply ask "did anyone in the production team think about the PRACTICALITIES of the charts?"

 

Now, clearly, part of the answer is "yes" as they chose to spiral-bind the pages and print the images on pretty durable paper. So, great, it's a book in a usable format. BUT the high quality imagery deserves a better treatment. It's infuriating that some of the moons greatest craters are ruined by being positioned on page joins and pushed into corners....

 

Copernicus   pages 17 and 22

 

Theophilus   pages 6 and 7

 

Ptolemaeus   pages 12 and 17   etc

 

The publisher might argue that one "has to draw the line somewhere", but this is where a "No" comes in - they clearly didn't think how USABLE the charts would be when craters are chopped..... and this problem could have been solved with some OVERLAP.

 

I enjoy looking at moon atlases, though I rarely use them at the eyepiece. The Wood atlas has great potential, but with proper design it could have been so much better.

 

It's not cheap, but - if reformatted - I'd buy another copy. West Virginia Press - are you listening/watching?


Edited by Physicsman, 22 February 2023 - 07:29 PM.

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#32 Alex_V

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Posted 22 February 2023 - 02:33 PM

Following the discussion on Photographic Moon Atlases: which one do you recommend, mostly from aesthetic point of view, like a coffee table book. 


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#33 Physicsman

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Posted 22 February 2023 - 02:41 PM

Following the discussion on Photographic Moon Atlases: which one do you recommend, mostly from aesthetic point of view, like a coffee table book. 

 

From an aesthetic point of view, although it isn't a photographic atlas, I'd choose the Rukl atlas. The airbrushed imagery is a complete work of art.

 

And I also enjoy looking through the Chu Cambridge Photographic Moon Atlas - if only to see the imaging quality achieved by fellow moon imaging "nutters"!!


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#34 WillR

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Posted 22 February 2023 - 02:47 PM

Hi Will.

 

Can I point out that I tried to set the title of this thread to be as OPEN as possible so it was virtually impossible to "wander off thread"?

 

The is NOTHING worse, on an excellent forum like CN, than feeling penned-in when it comes to discussing stuff. So fire away!

 

I have massive respect for people like Chuck Wood and Maurice Collins. They are enthusiastic and knowledgeable and, as I said in the "newly acquired books" thread, I have greatly enjoyed Chuck's "The Moon - A Personal View".

 

HOWEVER, I do think the publishers have missed a few tricks with the 21st Century Atlas. Irrespective of the number of typos (pretty trivial to most people), I would simply ask "did anyone in the production team think about the PRACTICALITIES of the charts?"

 

Now, clearly, part of the answer is "yes" as they chose to spiral-bind the pages and print the images on pretty durable paper. So, great, it's a book in a usable format. BUT the high quality imagery deserves a better treatment. It's infuriating that some of the moons greatest craters are ruined by being positioned on page joins and pushed into corners....

 

Copernicus   pages 17 and 22

 

Theophilus   pages 6 and 7

 

Ptolemaeus   pages 12 and 17   etc

 

The publisher might argue that one "has to draw the line somewhere", but this is where a "No" comes in - they clearly didn't think how USABLE the charts would be when craters are chopped..... and this problem could have been solved with some OVERLAP.

 

I enjoy looking at moon atlases, though I rarely use them at the eyepiece. The Wood atlas has great potential, but with proper design it could have been so much better.

 

It's not cheap, but - if reformatted - I'd buy another copy. West Virginia Press - are you listening/watching?

We are in complete agreement. It's sort of inexplicable. All I can think is its a tradition not to overlap moon atlases, which nobody questioned. Just like it is a tradition to overlap star atlases.

 

Most of these atlases are broken into too small pieces for my purposes. Maybe a section with 9-12 charts and lots of overlap as an overview, and a more detailed section with overlap. And why does no one organize the charts with the terminator in mind? If you are panning down, you not only fave to turn the page to a lower chart, but you often have to move laterally because the terminator is curved and what you see isn't aligned vertically.

 

Well. end of rant.


Edited by WillR, 22 February 2023 - 02:49 PM.

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#35 Guest99

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Posted 22 February 2023 - 02:48 PM

I agree the Rukl atlas is superb and certainly sets the standard for others.


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#36 Guest99

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Posted 22 February 2023 - 03:04 PM

Two ancient books I enjoy reading, the first one available via project Gutenberg  as a pdf down load is, The Moon by Thomas Gwyn Elger. The descriptions are almost poetical in places and shows the skill of the observations. The maps resembles in style the outline map at the back of Patrick Moore's Guide to the Moon.

 

The other book is The Moon by Edmund Nieson, the descriptions are quite detailed and the drawings are art in themselves even if they remind me of the style of HP Wilkins. Both books are from a bygone age and it's interesting how our ideas have changed and both rightly regarded as classics.

 

Both books even though they were written 100+ years ago are still a valued addition to my library, the observers certain were skilled considerign the equipment they had. 


Edited by Daryl63, 22 February 2023 - 03:44 PM.

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#37 Guest99

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Posted 22 February 2023 - 03:21 PM

When I left a company I worked for a few years ago they gave me an interesting book;

 

The Complete Guide to the Herschel Objects by Mark Bratton published by Cambridge. 

 

The Herschel catalogue contains around 2500ish objects depending on which source you look at. In this book the author has sifted out duplicate observations, single stars thought to be nebulous and other errors resulting in 2435 objects the author checked visually and compared the observation with published sources. It's certainly a mammoth book and took him many years to compile.

 

Each object is listed under the constellation it's in by it's NGC or IC number, under this is the Herschel number, RA & Dec, type of object, classification such as galaxy type or cluster type, size and finally magnitude and if it's visual or photographic. Following is a brief description of the object, there is not much continuity with this as some descriptions are visual, some photographic and the mixture of the two! If you are expecting pictures well there aren't very many at all and they are reproduced in black and white and very small with the odd drawing.

 

So what you get is a heavy reference book which descriptions  in places are a bit dehydrated and 584 pages long. What's the target audience, well that is a good question. I have found it useful at times when looking for a particular object just to get a brief overview of what the fuzzy blob I was looking at was supposed to be. As a leaving present I was very grateful as it was thoughtful of them and even though It doesn't come out of the bookcase often it's one that I value.


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#38 lambdaw098

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Posted 24 February 2023 - 02:01 PM

The only other Patrick Moore book I have besides the little Observer's Book of Astronomy. Published in 1973 so obviously quite dated. But it has some nice artwork charts based on the Mariner spacecraft photos.

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#39 WillR

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Posted 25 February 2023 - 12:41 AM

Tony Flanders posted on another topic that his granduncles were founding members of the Springfield Telescope Makers, which got me thinking about Russell Porter, which got me thinking about Mt. Palomar, and this book, one of my favorite astronomy reads:

 

The Perfect Machine by Ronald Florence. It's a nail biter about building the biggest telescope in the world and a veritable who's who of 20th century astronomy.

 

Very well written. Notice the little blurb on the cover by Arthur C. Clarke.

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Edited by WillR, 25 February 2023 - 12:43 AM.

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#40 Headshot

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Posted 01 March 2023 - 07:52 PM

The Perfect Machine is as close to a perfect book as one could get. It does for the Hale telescope what A Man on the Moon by Chaikin did for the Apollo Program.

 

Keeping with the astronomy theme of this discussion, I highly recommend Yerkes Observatory 1892-1950 by Donald E. Osterbrock. It deals with the "administrative" history of a scientific research institution, e.g it deals with people (astronomers), their egos and personalities, scientific status (rankings), perceived worth, and institutional "poaching" more than telescopes and equipment.


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#41 Physicsman

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Posted 01 March 2023 - 08:12 PM

I started this thread in the hope that it would "ferret out" a lot of books that might not appear in the "Books acquired recently" thread.

 

The two together should, hopefully, provide plenty of recommendations that people have been unaware of.

 

Certainly the case with the books on Palomar and Yerkes. I've already sourced a very good condition copy on ABE and I'll have to have a look into the Osterbrock book.

 

Please keep the recommendations coming - this thread is very wide, so there's plenty of leeway to extend astronomy into the sciences and applications, such as scopes and spacecraft.

 

Can be expensive, but also a lot of fun acquiring some of these volumes!


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#42 Alex_V

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Posted 02 March 2023 - 07:49 AM

Highly recommend: "Centennial History of the Carnegie Institution of Washington: Volume 1, the Mount Wilson Observatory: Breaking the Code of Cosmic Evolution" byAllan Sandage. This book has it all, biographies of famous astronomers, history of cosmology discoveries, building biggest telescopes (then) and so on. Almost 700 pages.

I have "Perfect Machine" and a couple of Osterbrock's books, one about W. Baade, and another about Hale and Ritchey "Pauper and the Prince", so should I should look into his Yerkes book.



#43 jcj380

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Posted 02 March 2023 - 07:57 AM

If online books are  allowed in this discussion and you have access to IOP Science / Concise Physics (I go through my university library), Kolata's Elementary Cosmology is an easy intro to cosmology. 

 

There's minimal math although he briefly covers Kaluza-Klein, tensors, etc. 


Edited by jcj380, 02 March 2023 - 07:57 AM.


#44 Physicsman

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Posted 07 March 2023 - 02:15 PM

If online books are  allowed in this discussion and you have access to IOP Science / Concise Physics (I go through my university library), Kolata's Elementary Cosmology is an easy intro to cosmology. 

 

There's minimal math although he briefly covers Kaluza-Klein, tensors, etc. 

Simple answer: Yes

 

This thread is meant to be as broad as possible, and many people have a proportion of their books on e-readers, such as the Kindle.

 

If I'm honest, I have a few books on the Kindle simply because I'm not prepared to pay ridiculous prices for a paperback. Though e-reader costs are sometimes totally ridiculous in themselves.

 

Purely online material - again, no problem!



#45 Guest99

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Posted 07 March 2023 - 02:36 PM

Recently I downloaded The Moon by Nieson from project Guttenberg, marvelous book, his descriptions and drawings are artwork in themselves, T G Elger's book is also open source along with his wonderful descriptions, however the map isn't included in the e reader version as that was apparently a pull out in his book. Its still found on Amazon as a reprint minus the map which has caused irritation. Old they may be, some ( most) of their ideas have been disproved, but the descriptions and drawings of lunar features are very interesting in themselves. I often go back to them after observing the Moon.


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#46 Physicsman

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Posted 07 March 2023 - 02:46 PM

I thought I'd try and stir up some "conversation" on here - many of us REALLY enjoy talking about our astronomy books.

 

So can I pose the following question: Can you name 3 or 4 books that you feel you couldn't be without in the following categories? (Please submit choices to any or all).

 

I've put 3 or 4 because I would find it impossible to name a single book in any of the categories. Your reasons may be down to the up-to-date nature of the book, sentimental (you like the author, first book you bought, associations with a time or place in your past etc....), or some other - if you want to explain the reasoning, please tell us.

 

Categories:       Solar (theory or observational)

         

                        Lunar (atlas, observational guide etc.)

 

                        Planetary (whole solar system guide, individual planet history or spacecraft-related, observational guide etc)

 

                        Stellar (non-cosmology: star guide/atlas, individual star/nebula related, stellar evolution etc...)

                         

                        Historical 

 

                        University/College textbooks

 

                        ANY other books you just CANNOT be without (YES, kop-out, catch-all section!)

 

Can I point out that this is NOT meant to competitive - it's not for people to judge which book is "better" - it's SOLELY your own personal preference - almost like "Desert Island Discs"! (I'd have to have Sergeant Pepper and a Gunter Wand Bruckner symphony 8 for example, others might prefer other Beatles etc - it's your choice)

 

I'll start this off with a few suggestions of my own:

 

Lunar:  Guide to the Moon by Patrick Moore. Dated volcanic theory, not well illustrated, but my first lunar guide. Extremely readable by an 

              author I long admired.

 

            Atlas of the Moon:  Rukl - it's a work of art, even if I never use it practically!

 

            The Modern Moon - A Personal View: Chuck Wood.    Some of his ideas may be controversial and dated (2003 book) but there is 

                                                                                                  great clarity in the selenology he describes.

 

Planetary: Scientific Exploration of Venus / Scientific Exploration of Mars: Taylor   Excellent texts at an intermediate level, pretty up-to-date.

                 

                  The New Solar System: Beatty, O'Leary, Chaikin - various editions. I've loved them since they were one of the first to 

                                                                                                                              synthesise the Voyager data back in the 80s.

 

Stellar:   Stars and Clusters - Payne Gaposchkin

          

              The Milky Way - Bok and Bok                          Both classic stellar texts from leaders in the developing field 1920s onwards

 

Textbooks:   University Astronomy - Pasachoff and Kutner      One of several textbooks I've acquired over the years. Very approachable, 

                                                                                                  though now 40 years old (basics are still ok)

 

I'll stop for now.  OVER TO YOU....


Edited by Physicsman, 07 March 2023 - 02:53 PM.


#47 Physicsman

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Posted 07 March 2023 - 02:52 PM

Phew - sorry about the "formatting" in that previous post.

 

I've edited it as well as I can, and it now seems to make some kind of sense!



#48 yuzameh

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Posted 07 March 2023 - 03:40 PM

The New Solar System: Beatty, O'Leary, Chaikin - various editions.

 

Got that, stopped at the 3rd edition, binned the earliest two - all lies, a quick check shows I've got the 3rd and 4th editions!

 

The Milky Way - Bok and Bok

 

got that, probably the last edition, there's a thread on that one already though, with a good review.  Also notice Guide to the Galaxy by Henbest and Couper coming out of the same thread (remember them?).

 

Righty-oh

 

Comets by Yeomans

 

Comet of the Century by Schaaf

 

Moon, Mars and Venus - Rukl

 

Cambridge photographic atlas of the planets

 

Meteorites and Their Parent Planets by McSween

 

among others

 

Atoms, Stars and Nebulae 3rd edition by Aller

 

Malin's classics Catalogue of the Universe, View of the Universe and Colours of the Stars, all colour, all astrophotography on big scopes, the rabid astro book collector should have all of these.

 

Coffee table or just big anyway books include Moore's New Atlas of the Universe, CUP's Cambridge Atlas of the Universe, CUP's Astronomy and Astrophysics Encyclopedia, Moore's Astronomy Encyclopedia, Guiness Book of astronomy, all for general and exotic stuff (mostly as of the 80's 90's) and to a large extent for the pretty piccies in the "atlas" ones, they're not really atlases, more coffee table but still with data for object types, simplistic encyclopediae but not in encyclopedia or dictionary format.

 

Ye olde texte bookes :-

 

Classification of the Stars by Jaschek and Jaschek

 

Both volumes of Astronomy by Roy and Clarke, now they are obscure.  I binned volume 1 once as irrelevant only to have to buy it back a decade later.

 

The Physical Universe by Shu, apparently a bit of a classic.

 

Astronomy Before the Telescope, an essential CUP paperback for the 'astrohistory' buff or even astro bibliophile

 

An ancient penguin dictionary of astronomy, really old, one of my few general second hand bookshop purchasers (there was usually no astro worth having in those, I don't like the old classics popular with some).

 

The ancient Everyman's Astronomy by Stoy, from the Everyman library series.  They don't do books like that any more!  Good stuff for about half a century old.

 

And the only true real solid textbook, Moore's 'O' level astronomy, which the school let me keep afterwards.  Got a 'B', 25% was practical and neither I nor school had any kit nor for the school astro books in those days, it wasn't a regular course, one of the physics teachers decided to go for it.  One night, whilst pointing the school scope with short lived astroclub in me early teens I muttered 'I wish there was an o level in this', must've been about the time of picking courses for o level, and he said there was, and robert was your mother's simian sibling.

 

I had a serious clear out and binning some time back of early 70s cosmology and kiddyish or beginner books, so the remainder are quite thing.  More than half the books are observing books for one type of astronomy or other, or data books like Sky Cat 2000 Vol 2 or NGc 2000.0 or even uranometria's deepsky field guide, which latter is useless to me nowadays but I still can't force myself to bin it.  Donating is no good, clubs it just goes in the basement, people just don't want a copy, usually because they have one!  Some esoteric CV books got donated on for free, asked for a fiver to cover shipping, showed how out of date I was, and I'd also forgetting how much books way (like water, quite deceptive), so it cost a tenner.  I don't mind giving stuff away but I don't like subsidising those who can afford to cover the shipping costs.

 

When it comes to observing it is interesting that on these fora no one ever mentions the two volumes by Martinez published by CUP.  Granted the ccd bits will be a bit neolithic now, but they were bought as the best I'd ever seen to that depth that had stuff in for practical visual work that I had not read anywhere else.  Unfortunately soon after light pollution levels jumped locally.



#49 Physicsman

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Posted 07 March 2023 - 06:05 PM

Thanks for reminding me about the Paul Murdin books. "Catalogue of the Universe" and "Colours of the Stars" are also in my collection, along with many of those you've mentioned. It also prompted me to add the following, huge, book to my list of Stellar:

 

The Invisible Universe by David Malin

 

Malin, of course, was a collaborator of Murdin's and probably the best emulsion astrophotographer in the world in the 80s and 90s - based at the AAT in Siding Springs, Australia. The book is a compilation of deep sky imagery taken by Malin - pales a bit compared to Hubble, but state of the art for ground-based images in 1990.

 

I'd also add (my final one, as it's possible to go on forever), in Stellar:

 

The Crab Nebula by Simon Mitton, published by Faber in 1979.

 

I remember the late 70s quote, along the lines of "there are two kinds of Physics, the Crab Nebula and everything else". A great read on the supernova, remnant nebulae and the Crab pulsar.

 

Keep 'em coming....



#50 BrentKnight

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Posted 07 March 2023 - 11:36 PM

It's late, so hopefully I can come back and add to my list (eventually I'll have my entire library listed here).

 

Categories:      

  • Solar (theory or observational): I'll wait to hear what others read as I think the only book I actually have on this is Donald Menzel's Our Sun published in 1949 as one of the Harvard Books on Astronomy.
  • Lunar (atlas, observational guide etc.): Luna Cognita by Robert Garfinkle and the new Duplex Atlas by Ronald Stoyan.  This atlas has very quickly become my favorite.
  • Planetary (whole solar system guide, individual planet history or spacecraft-related, observational guide etc):
  • Stellar (non-cosmology: star guide/atlas, individual star/nebula related, stellar evolution etc...):  I refer to Sue French's Deep-Sky Wonders almost every session I have.  Walter Scott Houston's version is also one of my favorites - mostly for nostalgic reasons as I came upon his articles in S&T when I first started out in astronomy and tried to photocopy every one I could find.  He was my guide back then...
  • Historical:  The first hardback I ever bought was called Astronomy Through the Telescope by Richard Learner and published in 1981.  I kept going back to the little bookstore to look through it until I finally had enough cash to buy it.  Happily I thought it was a very good read as well.  I still think it's a good read, but it's on this list out of nostalgia.  My all time favorite history book has still got to be Carl Sagan's Cosmos.  I just loved his style back then - although I think he got a little preachy later on...
  • University/College textbooks:  I have Shu and usually get bogged down with all the details, but I'd really like to finish it someday (not necessarily desert isle reading material though).  The only other textbook that I've actually read is Michael Zeilik's The Evolving Universe 3rd Edition.
  • ANY other books you just CANNOT be without (YES, kop-out, catch-all section!):  The Backyard Astronomer's Guide by Dickinson and Dyer.  I'd like to say that everything I initially learned about practical astronomy I got from that book, and I still pick up stuff from time to time.  I have the 2nd and 4th editions.  Ken Fulton's The Light-Hearted Astronomer is also priceless.  What I didn't learn in Dickinson and Dyer, I learned here - by example.

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