Category : Astronomy Books

Cambridge Photographic Moon Atlas Book Review

cambridge photographic moon atlasThe Cambridge Photographic Moon Atlas covers 69 regions of the lunar landscape in large format images with corresponding charts. The book itself contains 388 high-resolution photographs of the lunar surface.

The Cambridge Photographic Moon Atlas is not just an atlas though, the book begins with a great data section on the moon and the introduction section covers the structure of the moon, chemical composition, the moon evolution, determining the age of craters, changes to the moon by erosion and topography.

There are a few pages on how to best observe the moon, descriptions about libration, there is also information on what telescopes to use as well as photographic observational techniques. This includes the best type of CCD cameras, mounts, filters and telescopes to use. There is even a page on how to process your lunar images using AviStack or Registax.

After the 30 page introduction the book takes you through all sections of the moon. The book is divided into easy to read sections, regions with more features get more pages and more ‘zoomed-in’ detailed pages.

Each feature of the lunar surface is nicely labelled with sections having good descriptions and lunar co-ordinates of where to find them. There are even measurements of a lot of the lunar features such as the diameter of craters in km.

Each section also shows you the feature at various times of the month, so you can see the multiple lighting of the feature of the surface.

The Cambridge Photographic Moon Atlas is a great moon atlas and very up to date with each image looking very impressive. If you are looking for a moon atlas book, also have a look at The Clementine Moon Atlas. That is a very similar book which has images and a chart for each lunar region. It also has more labels on each section.


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Apollo 11 Owners Manual Book Review

Haynes Apollo 11 ManualThe Haynes Apollo 11 Owners Manual is an intriguing book and one of the first Haynes books to move away from the automotive sector. Don’t expect pages and pages of cross sectional diagrams of the Apollo 11 module and Saturn V rocket. There is much more to this book than that.

The first thing that hits you is the number of excellent colour photos and images that have been included in the Apollo 11 Owners’ Manual book.

The Apollo 11 Owners Manual begins with an introduction about the space race and how the Apollo 11 mission began as well as information on the Apollo 11 prime crew, backup crew and flight directors. There is then a chapter on the Saturn V rocket, which of course could not be left out of an Apollo 11 manual. This chapter includes information on Saturn 1, Saturn 1B, Saturn V and Apollo 4.

Following on we come to a chapter dedicated to the command and service modules. This includes information on electrical power, the life support systems, food, toilet stops, personal hygiene and what changes were made after the horrific fire which occurred during testing.

The guidance, navigation and control system gets it own chapter in the book and so does how communication was made from the moon. In the Lunar Module chapter the descent and ascent stages are discussed. There is also information about Apollo 4, 5, 8, 9, 10 and of course Apollo 11.

The important space suit get its own chapter as well, here they discuss the water cooled garment, the pressurised inner suit, the outer protective suit as well all the other parts of the suit in great details such as the helmet and visor, gloves and boots, life support backpacks. Not to be left out is the waste management side of things and food and drink.

In one of the last chapters there is information on the post-Apollo 11 missions with details on Apollo 12-14, Apollo 15-17 and Apollo 18-20. There is also few pages on the misconceptions and conspiracy theories that we did not actually go to the moon. The book also asks and answers the question “Why did we stop going to the moon?”

There are several appendices with a table on the Apollo missions, a field guide to the Apollo hardware, the timeline of the race to moon and a table on what happened to the Saturn V rocket stages from the 15 planned Apollo flights.

Overall the Apollo 11 Owners Manual is a brilliant book which does contain detailed drawings and cross sections of the Apollo spacecraft but it also has lots more to offer than that. There are early black and white pictures of the astronauts and in-depth details on each part of what made the Apollo missions a success. There are also some pleasing images from the lunar surface. If you are intrigued by the Apollo 11 spacecraft and the Apollo missions and want to learn what went into landing us on the moon so many times then this is a great read, highly recommended.


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Building and Using Binoscopes Book Review

building and using binoscopes book reviewThis is a book review of Building and using Binoscopes by Norman Butler. If you love observing the heavens and have ever tried using a binoviewer then you will know how building a binoscope would be the next logical step.

Binoviewers are binocular type contraptions that fit into your telescope viewer and provide you with two eyepieces to look through just like a pair of binoculars. The only downside to using binoviewers is that you need to purchase 2 of every eyepiece and make sure they match. But the upside is that the viewing is a lot more comfortable, you can open both eyes and doing so gives the heavenly object you are viewing an almost 3D feel. I can really recommend giving a pair a go.

But one step on from binoviewers is actually bolting together two telescopes and putting them close enough together so that you can look through both at the same time (mega binoculars!).

Binoscopes are not a new idea, they have been around since the 1920’s. This book covers binoscopes in several different ways – from the point of view of building them yourself from scratch, buying two telescopes and mounting them together or actually purchasing a binoscope from a well known manufacturer like Vixen.

The book begins with the question, Why Binoscopes? It then goes on to look at optical design for binoscopes. There is then a chapter called Binoculars are Binoscopes, which looks at the similarities between the two as well as looking at building downward binocular mounts.

Building and Using Binoscopes is packed full of weird and wonderful images of various binoscopes that have been homemade from around the world. There is help and ideas on making your own binoscopes themselves as well making the mount and drive for them.

The single appendix includes a range of astronomical equations.

This is a very quirky book, and a topic I would have never thought there was a printed book on. But if building a binoscope interests you whether it’s from scratch or by putting together two purchased telescopes then this book is really for you.


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Patrick Moore Observers Year Book Review

366 Nights of the Universe Book Patrick Moore’s Observer’s Year: 366 Nights of the Universe

The original text of this book was written by Patrick Moore, and the majority of the text has not been touched but the data has been updated. This version of the book contains data from 2015 to 2020.

There is a page for every day of the year in this book. Each month begins with a look at the sky with the initial pages detailing the constellations in the sky, then there is a list of what to look at throughout that month.

Each day of the month gets its own page. You may just find written text for a particular day or a constellation diagram with a list of objects to view in that constellation. On a particular day you may also get a small box detailing Future Points of Interest – something that will happen on that day in the future, like the ‘Earth at Aphelion’ or the Opposition of Pluto’ in a particular year on that day. The number of pages per day is not massive; you may find that there is just one page or less per day. That means it’s not an arduous read, you could just read a page a day.

There are 3 appendices, a list of the 88 constellations, one with the Greek alphabet and a glossary.

I like the fact that you can pick this book up every day and have a quick read of what you can look at tonight in the night sky, at the same time the book improves your overall astronomical knowledge day by day.


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Solar Sketching Book Review

solar sketchingSolar Sketching is a comprehensive introduction into recording the Sun features by sketching. The introduction gives a detailed description into the basic equipment required including Filters, types of Telescopes and Mounts along with essential tips to help with equipment and techniques including the use of TiltingSun a free program to create templates from.

Determining the orientation of the solar disc can be a problem when observing through the Telescope, one of the useful tips is to use free software called ’Tilting Sun’ which gives the positions of the Sun’s poles and equator, direction of rotation and the direction of drift in the telescope field of view at the observing site.

Once the basics have been explained, the solar sketching book takes you into step by step detailed tutorials together with the types of materials used to create a detailed image.

Each of the observing mediums are explained; White Light, Hydrogen Alpha and Calcium K. Each tutorial has illustrations of the technique involved with step by step instructions and a final finished example.

The section, Sketching for Science written by Kim Hay outlines how the finished document can be used to record a historical record of the solar feature at a specific time and date, this can be sent to various Astronomical groups solar sections. Examples of reporting forms for the various groups are in Appendix A.

There are sections of Solar Sketching with computer software in, it’s not all about hand drawn work. Some use of Photoshop is included including using it to create animations of your drawings.

The drawings of the solar disc in Hydrogen Alpha are truly amazing in the book and to me they look real.

There is a useful little chapter in the book entitled “Ideas for Outreach” which includes things to do like making a sun funnel and sun spotter and also a section on how to make a solar spectrograph.

There are two appendices, one contains a great collection of observing forms and the other contains a glossary.

In this day and age most Solar observers record Sunspots, Prominences, Filament and full disc images using cameras, whereas drawing the sun requires detailed observing and skill and it’s refreshing to have a book which encourages this method of observing, it is time consuming and requires patience but the rewards are very satisfying.

If you’re interested in sketching the Sun using pencils and pastels then this is the book for you, I can highly recommend this book Written by Erika Rix, Kim Hay Sally Russell and Richard Hardy.

Book Reviewed By Mick Jenkins and Daniel Coe


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