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Observing Guides

Golden Guides

These three books may be easily overlooked by browsers. This is not because of their lack of content, however. It is rather because they are so small - measuring 6 inches tall and 4 inches wide to be exact. These little paperback books are giants in the book world because of the tradition they have developed for providing great knowledge and great portability. They are part of the Golden Guide collection put out by Golden Press. These books make excellent resources for the young and old.

The Sky Observer's Guide
by R. Newton Mayall, Margaret Mayall and Jerome Wyckoff, illustrated by John Polgreen. Hardcover and paperback available, published May 1976, 160 pages, hardcover list price $11.05, paperback list price $5.95, paperback size 6" x 4". This book is a wonderful introduction to amateur astronomy. It explains the basic principles of amateur astronomy. It then goes on to give a grounding in the objects of the Solar System, the constellations, and other objects in the universe. The equipment and reference material of the hobby is also reviewed, as well as the possible avenues of investigation an amateur can pursue in the hobby. This small book, revised through the years, has probably done more to perpetuate amateur and professional astronomy than most of the other publications which have been available for the same amount of time.

by Herbert S. Zim and Robert H. Baker, revised by Mark R. Chartrand, published by Golden Press, New York, New York, 1985, list price $5.95, 160 pages, 6" x 4". Originally published in 1951, this book has been revised over the years as our scientific knowledge has increased. It provides a good grounding in astronomy by starting with the basics and working up. Observing the night sky is discussed, with helpful hints for finding your way around with the stars as your road marks. The nature of stars are discussed and the different types as we know them are reviewed. The constellations are reviewed in bite size chunks, beginning with those which circle the north celestial pole, then the seasons each in turn, and finally those at the south celestial pole. The Solar System is presented with good information on each member, including comets and meteorites. The texts ends with some good tips for observing meteors the Moon and solar and lunar eclipses. A table of the constellations can be found in the appendix along with suggested objects to observe each month. Wonderful illustrations and informative tables are sprinkled throughout.

by Mark R. Chartrand, published by Golden Press, New York, New York, 1990, list price $5.95, 160 pages, 6" x 4". This book is a newcomer to the longstanding Golden Guide collection. It is intended as a companion to Stars and was created using the scientific data which has been collected in recent years on the members of our Solar System family. This book picks up where Stars left off, going into greater detail about each planet and its known satellites. The book begins with a review of planet theory as it has developed through the ages. Observing the sky is then discussed with an emphasis on the zodiac, which is the celestial stomping ground of our planetary neighbors. The history of exploration in our Solar System is then reviewed, along with a brief accounting of its formation based upon existing knowledge and current theories. Each of the members of our Solar System are then addressed in turn, beginning with the Sun itself and moving outward. Asteroids and comets are also examined as smaller, though no less significant members of our solar family. As with Stars, this book also contains numerous photos, illustrations and tables scattered throughout the text.



Field Guides

Stars and Planets, A Peterson Field Guide
by Jay M. Pasachoff and Donald H. Menzel . Published by Haughton Mifflin Company, 1992, 502 pages, list price, $16.95. hard back list price $27.00, paperback list price $18.00.
This book is available in hardback and also in paperback with a coated cover for moisture resistance in the outdoors. The information is very good, with a separate section for each subject. Detailed star charts are provided by Wil Tirion, a well respected atlas illustrator, and many deep sky objects are noted for the stargazer who likes to wander. There are many tables in the back. This guide would be an excellent choice for the amateur who has gotten his or her feet wet and is ready to learn more. With Wil Tirion's charts and the in-depth information, few other resources will be necessary for a while (until you feel ready for a real sky atlas to assist you in your wandering).

National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Night Sky
by Mark R. Chartrand, Senior Vice President, National Space Society. Published in the U.S. by Alfred A. Knopf, October 1991, 714 pages, list price, $19.00. This book is ideal for the coat pocket when out and about. The book has a bonded plastic cover which protects it from the elements. As with other guides by the N. A. S., the various sections of the book are marked with pictures along the edges of the pages for quick reference to planets, constellations, tables, etc. The sky charts are informative and the color photos, a hallmark of N. A. S. books, are wonderful. This guide provides information on a lot of subjects without boring the reader with more details than they wish to know. The color photos  make it a good reference for those who may not get to a telescope very often to see the real thing. The sky charts are good for "getting around" the sky without going into great depth.

Planets: A Smithsonian Guide
by Thomas R. Watters. Hardcover and paperback available, published July 1995, 256 pages, paperback list price $18.00, hardcover list price $24.95. This book is a great resource for young adults. It gives an overview of the Solar System: Sun, planets, asteroids, comets, etc. Thomas R. Watters is Chairman of the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the National Air and Space Museum, so he knows from where he speaks. Each subject is presented to the reader using current scientific data, including wonderful photographs and illustrations. There are also great quick-reference tables in the back, a glossary, and a pictorial atlas of the terrestrial planets.



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