Category : Astronomy Books

Philips 2021 Stargazing Month by Month Guide to the Night Sky Book

Philip’s Stargazing month by month 2021 guide is the perfect practical guide for both budding and experienced astronomers. This very popular and best selling astronomy book covers Britain and Ireland. The new 2021 edition has been completely revised to ensure it is totally up-to-date for exploring the wonder of the night skies, month-by-month and day-by-day.

This new edition has been written by  Nigel Henbest and Heather Couper and is really well laid out and easy to use.

The monthly star charts with calendar, The Planets, Moon, and Special Events mean you will never miss anything again. The monthly “Observing Tips” help you locate objects and “Observing Technology” provide an insight to the selection and use of telescopes and binoculars.

The highlights of the year section will also give you lots of warning to plan for the events throughout 2021. There is a jargon buster, objects of the month in full colour and a really handy calendar telling you about the moon phases and any events happening during the month.

The book also finishes off with a list of the Top 20 sky sights for the year and a section written by Robin Scagell on choosing and using binoculars.

 

The Philips 2021 Stargazing Month by Month Guide is available as a paperback book or now in an Amazon Kindle version. Don’t think of it as just on a black and white Kindle Paperwhite device but you could read it via the Kindle app on any mobile phone or tablet device in full colour.

The Philips 2021 Stargazing Month by Month Guide to the Night Sky Book is available now from Amazon

Imaging the Messier Objects Remotely from Your Laptop Book Review

Imaging the Messier Objects remotely from a laptopThis is not a book teaching you how to remotely connect your observatory to your home laptop or PC so you can control your telescope from the warmth of your lounge. I don’t think that topic would fill a book anyway. Instead this book is about renting telescopes around the world for imaging and controlling them from your laptop. Doesn’t have to be your laptop though it could probably be a desktop PC, Apple Mac, tablet or even smart phone.

I am amazed that more people don’t just rent a telescope for a couple of hours which is in a country with cloudless skies. You can probably rent a better telescope and imaging rig than you could ever afford, and you don’t have to maintain it or provide an observatory or garden shed to contain it. Or I wonder if people consider selling all their astronomy equipment and renting time on a remote scope instead or we just love looking at our scopes and we love the hands-on feel.

Anyway, the book, this is a chunky 520 pages book from Springer. Most of the book is filled with individual details on how to image each of the 110 Messier objects using remotely controlled telescopes. The author has used several different scopes and tells you which he used to image a certain M object. With each Messier object you get a constellation chart pinpointing the object, sometimes you get a negative image, but there is always the resulting image that was taken. You also get information like RA and Dec, Field of View, exposure time used, date taken, universal time, moon phase, scale of image and detailed information on what telescope was used this includes the mount used, aperture of scope, the CCD make and model, colour or mono, pixel size and the overall location of the telescope.

Before you get into the main body of the book with the list of Messier objects, the first 50 pages are all about remote telescopes. This section discusses the advantages of renting time and the different telescope sites as well as the individual telescopes and camera equipment (e.g. FOV etc) that were used at each site to take the images shown in the book. There is also information on using RA and Dec and how to use this information for inputting what you want to image on the remote site’s web site.

To be honest this book is more useful than you think, it’s not just for remotely controlled telescopes. This is good for home setups as well. Now you can look at the Messier object you want to image at home and see what the author imaged and what equipment was used and his results. If you have similar equipment at home, you can see what results you should also expect. Alternatively, if the author used a larger telescope on an object and you have a relatively small telescope then you can find out that object is not really going to image well for you.

Chapter 6 holds a quick reference image library for a list of NGC objects which is also great for reference when imaging. Most of the astronomical images are black and white. Images of telescopes are in colour and so are the constellation charts. Don’t forget that the remote telescopes will probably only take the images, it will then still be up to you to process the images and make them look good.

Overall

Some others may just see this book as 50 pages of information about renting telescope time with a big chunk of the book just listing 110 of the Messier objects and details about each image in turn. Overall though I really like this book as I think I would find it useful for my own imaging at home by using the Messier section for reference. I also welcome the first 50 pages of information on remote telescope sites as it could be the way forward for astronomers who don’t want to spend vast amounts of money on equipment or they may not have the space to store it or maintain it. Especially if you don’t have an observatory and you must drag all your equipment out every night and set it up every time you want to use it, that can become tedious – I know first-hand. Another reason I think for using a remote telescope is that astrophotography has become very popular since 2010 and most objects in the sky have been imaged so many times (just Google some!). So, you need to think about imaging with bigger telescopes or in a different way with new colour palettes for example, remote telescopes let you do this with minimal cost.

Where can I buy Imaging the Messier Objects Remotely from Your Laptop?

You can buy Imaging the Messier Objects Remotely from Your Laptop from Amazon UK

The Art of Astrophotography Book Review

the art of astrophotography bookNot another astrophotography book I hear you say, now it seems that observational astronomy it dwindling and now everyone wants to image. Why wouldn’t you though, it nice to share pretty pictures. Imaging equipment can cost a lot of money though, but there are some reasonably priced high frame rate cameras on the market now. In addition to this a lot of the image capture software is free to use.

The Art of Astrophotography by Ian Morison is a really interesting imaging book mainly because it contains real images you can expect to create on a home astronomy set up with mid-range equipment. I also like it because each section is not too large and a lot of colour images break up the text nicely.

All areas of imaging with various equipment are covered in The Art of Astrophotography. The book begins by teaching you how to image star trails with a digital camera it then moves onto digital camera imaging of constellations. Finally you get told how to image the sky with a digital camera with a tracking mount. This enables you to image for longer with round stars. All that is within the first 30 pages and the full book has over 250 pages so you can already see this book covers a lot about imaging.

Next we have imaging the moon with a smart phone or compact digital camera and then with a DSLR camera.  From there we have imaging the Pleaides with a DSLR and a small refractor telescope.  NExt there is imaging M42 with a modified DSLR camera and of course how to process the image afterwards.

After the initial section on images The Art of Astrophotography  then looks at astrophotography accessories, including telescope types and flatteners.  It then gets slightly more complicated by introducing the science of using a guide camera for imaging and about how to cool a standard DSLR camera.

The author next takes on imaging the North American and Pelican Nebula with a refractor and an DSLR as well as discussing how to cut down on light pollution in your images.

Imaging planets is covered next with either a DSLR or a high frame rate camera. Now we are using Registax for processing and looking at planetary imaging with RGB filters. Whilst still using Registax the book moves on to looking at imaging the moon with a high frame rate camera or DSLR.

Now it’s the turn of the Sun, and that is imaged in white light and Ha using either a standard refractor with filters and specific Ha telescopes.  There is also information on how to best image comets and meteors and processing them using Deep Sky Stacker.

Next the book moves onto covering the more expensive colour and mono cooled cameras and how you can benefit from their use and what to consider if you are going to buy one.

LRGB colour imaging with filters is covered next, useful if you purchase a mono cooled camera. Purchasing good quality colour filters and a USB powered filter wheel can be costly, something to remember if you decide to purchase a mono camera and want to colour image. After this naturally there is then narrow band filters, so Ha, Sulphur II and OII filters. That is the end of the main part of the book, but up next is some large appendices to look at.

Appendix

The first appendix is about telescopes for imaging and which may be the best for you to use and your budget. This can depend on the type of object you want to image. As I have found not one telescope is good at all imaging tasks. After this comes telescope mounts, which are even more important in my mind than the telescope that sits on it. The effects of the atmosphere are also covered in another appendix and then auto guiding and image calibration are also covered. Finally at the rear of the book are some really good website links.

Overall Thoughts

The author has certainly packed a lot into The Art of Astrophotography. This is a great book which covers a lot of different objects you could image with a lot of different equipment. Who is it for? Well I think it is for a beginner coming into astrophotography as it gives you a complete overview of all the different equipment and objects to image or it’s for those astronomers who have the equipment but want to know more about how to process their images and what they can actually image with their equipment.

Where can I buy The Art of Astrophotography book?

You can buy The Art of Astrophotography from Amazon UK

Astronomy of the Milky Way Book Review

The Observer’s Guide to the Southern Sky

astronomy of the milky way book
This is the second edition of Astronomy of the Milky Way by Mike Inglis. This second edition has been updated with new science that has been found out about the objects in the book. This version of the book also benefits from a larger format with re-drawn maps and an increased number of images in colour.

A lot of the objects that are in the sky in the Southern hemisphere are objects that many of us in the northern hemisphere may never have the chance to observe with our own eyes. But we are lucky enough to be able to view a number of objects that appear in both the northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere skies during the year and that’s the same for those living in the Southern hemisphere. This book covers some objects that you can’t see in either the Northern or Southern so there is something for everybody.

Astronomy of the Milky Way takes us through the highlights of the Southern hemisphere throughout the year. It starts what to see in January and February and then March and April and finally May and June. Why only half the year, well you have to read book 1 in order to get the other months, as the author admits they can’t all fit into one book.

Astronomy of the Milky Way looks at Monoceros, Canis Major and Hydra, Canis Major, Puppis, Lepus and Columba, Pyxis and Antila and Vela during January and February. March to April brings us Carina, Crux, Musca, Centaurus, Circinus, Volans, Octans, Chamaeleon and Telsecopium. May to June has us looking at Triangulum Australe, Apus, Lupus, Norma, Ara, Pavo, Libra, Scorpius, Ophiuchus and Corona Australis.

There are some great full colour images of celestial objects and some very clear constellation diagrams as well as lots of data about the objects including RA and Dec and magnitude.

Astronomy of the Milky Way is full of appendices, with 10 in total. These cover astronomical co-ordinate systems, magnitudes, stellar classifications, light filters, star clusters, double stars, star colours, books, magazine and astronomical organisations, the Greek alphabet and some popular astrophotography websites.

Overall thoughts

It’s nice to see books split up by month as they can be great for reference when you are planning your observing sessions throughout the year and you want to see what’s in the sky tonight to observe or image. Overall Astronomy of the Milky Way is a great book for those wanting to familiarise themselves with objects in the Southern hemisphere.

Where can I buy the Astronomy of the Milky Way book?

You can buy Astronomy of the Milky Way from Amazon UK or from Amazon US – https://amzn.to/2JTInRT

Unveiling Galaxies by Jean Rene Roy Book Review

The Role of images in astronomical discovery

unveiling galaxies bookUnveiling Galaxies is split into three parts. Images and the Cosmos, Images as Galaxy Discovery Engines and Organising the World of Galaxies.

This book charts the history of the understanding of galaxies through the use of images that have been taken over time. These images became investigative tools and our understanding grew with the emergence of new technology for imaging these vast galaxies. The book also explores the impact of optical, radio and X-ray imaging techniques.

The final part of organising the world of galaxies discusses the importance of galaxy atlases and how astronomers organised those images in order to educate us and how they promoted ideas and pushed forward for new knowledge. Images that caused confusion among astronomers are included to show us the reader what challenges were faced by astronomers of the time. We are told how images helped to distinguish between deep-sky objects, such as nebulae and galaxies. We may forget that in the early days astronomers sat looking at images and maps, there were no computers. This was very much ‘hands on astronomy’.

Unveiling Galaxies is a beautiful book and very interesting if you are into the history of astronomy and the role that images have played through the years and changed our way of thinking about the universe.

This hardback book contains 270 pages with an appendix, bibliography and index. There are also colour plates/pages found in the middle of the book, as otherwise all images and diagrams are in black and white.

Where can I buy the Unveiling Galaxies book?

You can buy Unveiling Galaxies from Amazon UK or from Amazon US – https://amzn.to/2Wfv9kO

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