Celestial Sampler

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Celestial_Sampler.jpg 154 x 200Celestial Sampler
Sue French
Sky Publishing Corp, Cambridge, MA, 2005

 

Subtitled "60 Small-Scope Tours for Starlit Nights," this book is a compilation of the first 60 articles of Sue French’s Small-Telescope Sampler column in Sky & Telescope.  Following the tradition established by Walter Scott Houston’s long running Deep-Sky Wonders column, Sue takes us on a guided tour of the evening sky.  With a small telescope in our backyard, here is an evening’s worth of celestial entertainment.

What I especially like is the book’s emphasis on observing with a small telescope.  Starting in the 1980’s, prolific amateurs started building and using 18", 20" and even 24" and larger telescopes.  Forget the cost and the skill necessary to construct one of these behemoths.  Until a few years ago, I didn’t even own a vehicle large enough to transport a telescope this big out into the wilderness where the skies are dark and clear enough to take advantage of their light-gathering potential.  Now if you’ve ever used a big one on a perfect night, you know how wonderful this hobby can be.  But as a small telescope owner, sometimes I felt left out.  Finally, here is someone who can relate to this hobby with the rest of us.

Each monthly essay tour, confined to a region of the sky easily observable in a single evening, describes the double stars, variable stars, clusters, nebulae, and galaxies.  Where appropriate, Sue also discusses some of the basic astrophysics involved with these sights.

Sue’s monthly articles have become the most popular column in Sky & Telescope.  As the successor to Walter Scott Houston, the magazine’s editors in 2005 changed the title of her column to Deep Sky Wonders.

And just in case you own a big telescope, with only a few exceptions, anything which looks good in a small telescope looks better in a large one.

Beautiful color photos, excellent color finder charts, and catalog listing of objects, including celestial coordinates, round out each essay.  The 169-page book is certainly worth $24.95.

 

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