Go-To Telescopes Under Suburban Skies

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Springer Science & Business Media, Sep 14, 2010 - Science - 260 pages
Go-To Telescopes Under Suburban Skies is the first book specifically written for amateur astronomers who own, or who are about to purchase, a computer-controlled ‘go-to’ telescope. Computer control and automatic location of objects in the night sky is now a feature of even inexpensive astronomical telescopes (under $200), no longer just of the more expensive models. The advantage of the ‘go-to’ capability is enormous – the telescope can be aimed at any object in the sky with great speed and accuracy – and so is the popularity of these instruments.

GO-TO Telescopes Under Suburban Skies provides literally hundreds more targets beyond those offered by the built-in ‘nightly tours’ that feature on the telescope’s computer handset (a feature incorporated by most manufacturers). Although most ‘go-to’ telescopes have enormous databases of objects they can find – usually running into tens of thousands – the tours (that’s suggested objects to look at) are always very limited. Once you’ve seen the planets and bright objects that the computer suggests, you’re on your own...

This new book answers the question, ‘What shall I observe next?’ in a way that is unique to ‘go-to’ telescopes. Unlike all existing books on deep sky observing, GO-TO Telescopes Under Suburban Skies doesn't waste space on RA/Dec co-ordinates or Star Maps and Finder Charts for suggested objects. It is designed expressly to be used alongside a ‘go-to’ telescope, using the NGC and SAO menus on the computer handset to quickly slew the telescope to each new target. This is unique, and makes the book much more information-rich than other observing guides.

Targets are arranged by season to maximise the chances of a given object being visible at the time of observing, and then are divided into four categories: three deep sky categories of increasing difficulty, and then one category of stars that covers things like coloured stars, multiple stars, and loose clusters/streams. The reader can quickly turn to the relevant season, and then work through the list of objects.

All existing books about practical deep-sky observing are biased towards non-‘go-to’ telescope owners and usually assume large-aperture instruments and/or dark, rural or desert skies. This book makes the more realistic assumption that the amateur astronomer has a relatively small telescope and is observing from a backyard in a suburban area.

Instead of devoting page after page to maps and co-ordinates, GO-TO Telescopes Under Suburban Skies leaves the computer to locate targets by using NGC and SAO catalog numbers, and so has the space to suggest many more fascinating deep-sky targets and provide detailed observing lists and information about what's being viewed.


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1 Introduction
2 Winter
3 Spring
4 Summer
5 Autumn
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About the author (2010)

Neale Monks is a scientist, writer, and teacher, and the author of another book in the Practical Astronomy Series, Astronomy with a Home Computer. After completing his zoology degree at Aberdeen University he worked briefly as a marine zoologist before moving to London, where he earned his Ph.D. while working at the Natural History Museum. He then spent a few years as a post-doctoral researcher studying the effects of astronomical events on sea level and mass extinctions before leaving research to spend more time teaching and writing. Since 2002 he has taught a history of science class for Pepperdine University as well as various science classes for the WEA. At different times he's lived in England, Scotland, and the Midwestern United States.

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