Tag : astronomy-book

NASA Mars Rover Book by Haynes Book Review

NASA Mars Rovers by Haynes – Owner’s Workshop Manual

1997-2013 (Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity)

Haynes Mars Rover Owners Workshop Manual BookThis is one of Haynes’ astronomy owner’s workshop manual books. I have reviewed a few of these already including the Space Shuttle and the Lunar Rover books. Please note this book won’t take you through how to repair the Mars Rovers or how to build your own, but they do manage to provide the reader with an amazing collection of information about the Mars Rovers in one book.

You get some brilliant cross-sectional diagrams and photographs. This book also comes with some amazing full colour images of the Mars terrain which have been taken by the Mars Rovers.

The book begins with an introduction to Mars, and then there are details on the early missions to Mars, including Mariner 4 and Mariner 9 as well as information on the Viking lander.

There is then a section on the newer missions to Mars including the Mars Global Surveyor and the Pathfinder missions.

A large part of the book is given over to Spirit and Opportunity. In this chapter both Mars Rovers are covered in very precise detail, from the planning stage, to taking the reader through each part of technology that the Rover carried on board. This chapter even gives a small mention to Beagle 2!

After this chapter we come onto Curiosity. Again through many full colour images and diagrams the reader is taken from concept stage through to engineering, building and testing. There is also lots of information on the advanced landing system that was used with the sky crane. Each scientific device on Curiosity is thoroughly covered. This chapter ends with some really great panoramic images of the Mars surface taken by Curiosity.

I love this book, for me it’s more like having a full colour encyclopaedia on the Mars Rovers, this Haynes manual on the Mars Rovers is thoroughly recommended. A great Mars Rover Book.

NASA Mars Rover Manual by Haynes is available at Amazon

Astrophotography on the Go Book Review

Astrophotography on the GoAstrophotography on the Go by Joseph Ashley

‘Astrophotography on the Go’ from Springer is part of the Patrick Moore Practical Astronomy series and the subtitle for it is ‘Using Short Exposures with Light Mounts’.

Most people who travel to do their astrophotography won’t take their usual hi-end home imaging equipment with them, but will usually have a separate set of telescope equipment that goes with them. This usually means taking a lighter mount and perhaps smaller telescopes together with a laptop and other astronomy equipment that is designed for travelling.

In ‘Astrophotography on the Go’ the author defines a lightweight and portable mount as one that weighs no more than 7.5kg, is easily separated, a standard dovetail saddle and collapsible and extendable legs.

The book begins with astrophotography basics such as the various types of telescope and details on cameras, accessories, mounts and how to put it all together.

The book then goes into a little more depth with two of the chapters dedicated to talking about astrophotography with Alt-Azimuth and lightweight EQ mounts. In these chapters such details as maximum exposure times with Alt-Az mounts are covered and the best way to set the mounts up.

Other topics in the book include performing astrophotography in light polluted areas, doing piggyback astrophotography and taking nightscapes. There is a nice little chapter on using the Deep Sky Stacker software. The chapter takes you through the basics of processing an image with DSS.

The book also includes a chapter on processing very short exposures; it does this by covering basic processing techniques that can be completed in most image processing software such as GIMP, Photoshop Elements, Deep Sky Stacker etc. These techniques include setting the black point, stretching the image, aligning histogram colour channels, adjusting color balance, using unsharp mask and changing the saturation settings.

Chapter 12 covers the different range of lightweight Azimuth and EQ mounts from all the main astronomy retailers including Meade, Celestron and Skywatcher. It also compares the two types of mount and the advantages and disadvantages of both.

There is a nice chapter entitled ‘Portable Observatories’ which talks about what you may want to pack when going on holiday or when flying abroad. The chapter details what you can get in a carry-on bag on commercial airlines and how to pack it all in.

The last chapter provides the reader with a list of sky objects to try imaging during the year, split into seasons then by months.

The appendices include how to plan an astrophotography imaging session, making lightweight mount tripod modifications, and about using a 4 SE mount with a wedge in equatorial mode.

Overall ‘Astrophotography on the Go’ is a nice book; it has a good mixture of both black and white and colour images throughout. I have not seen a book like this before which is dedicated to the travelling astrophotographer. It may not be for the seasoned astrophotographer traveller or person that frequently travels to star parties, but if you are thinking of travelling with your home setup or attending your first star party then this could be really useful.

Astrophotography on the Go is available at Amazon

Hidden Treasures Book Review

Hidden Treasures BookHidden Treasures is a big, heavy, nearly 600 page book which includes an original selection of 109 deep-sky objects. None of the objects are included in either the Messier or Caldwell catalogues. Together with this all the objects are supposed to be visible with a 4” telescope under dark skies.

The Hidden Treasures book is one of three books by Cambridge University Press in the Deep-Sky companion’s series. The others are called The Messier Objects and The Caldwell Objects. With the Hidden Treasure book being so good it seems definitely worth buying the other books as well.

Each of the 109 hidden deep-sky treasures is clearly labelled, with some good introductory text, photographs of the object, sky maps and sometimes drawings.

There are several appendices at the back of the book, the first one is about Caroline Herschel and it takes you through some of her astronomical findings. The other appendices provide you with basic data in a table form of the 109 objects, there are also 25 additional hidden treasures to keep you going once you get through the whole book.

It’s really worth taking your time going through each deep-sky object in this book and discovering some new sites to behold when you are out on an observing session. Overall this is a great book, as I love it when objects are clearly labelled and you can jump around the book easily. It’s also nice to just have a few pages per object and so you don’t get bogged down in lots of details. I look forward to reviewing the other books in the series.

Hidden Treasures is available at Waterstones

Observing The Moon Book Review

Observing The Moon BookObserving the Moon is a hardback book from Cambridge University Press by Gerald North. This is the second edition of the book. When I started reading the book I was thinking that it was going to be a boring book just about the moon, but how wrong I actually was. It does contain a lot more information, including information on how to image the moon, via a webcam and video camera.

The book begins by describing the moon, its phases, eclipses, gravity and tides as well as occultations. The book then discusses what sort of telescope you need to best view the moon, as well as buying advice and eyepiece types and what you may need if you want to do some moon drawings.

Observing the Moon then goes through what you need to image the moon, this is a great section, if a little dated in areas. The book mentions CCD cameras, DSLR cameras, video cameras and image processing – including stacking your moon images using Registax.

Observing the Moon also covers each area of the moon with descriptions, photographs and some drawings. I must admit when reading the book it was the first time I had ever seen a really good image of the far side of the moon, it had me mesmerised.

The appendices cover telescope collimation, field testing a telescope’s optics and how to polar align. The books images and drawings are all in black and white, but when discussing the moon this does not really matter.

Overall a great read, and please don’t think this book is just about the moon, as there is so much more in it, such as telescope buying advice and how to image the moon.

Observing the Moon is available at Waterstones