Cover image for Celestial objects for modern telescopes
Title:
Celestial objects for modern telescopes
Author:
Covington, Michael A., 1957-
Publication Information:
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
xiii, 268 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
General Note:
Includes index.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780521524193
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Item Holds
Searching...
QB63 .C7 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

Based on field notes made by the author during his own career as an amateur astronomer, this unique guide covers both the traditional and novel approaches to studying the night sky. In addition to the more standard techniques, it discusses the latest modern resources available to today's astronomer, such as personal computers, the Internet, and computerized telescopes. It includes practical advice on aspects such as site selection and weather; provides the reader with detailed instructions for observing the Sun, Moon, planets, and all types of deep-sky objects; and it introduces newer specialities such as satellite observing and the use of astronomical databases. The book concludes with detailed information about 200 stars, clusters, nebulae, and galaxies, suitable for viewing with modest-sized telescopes under suburban conditions. Written to complement How to Use a Computerized Telescope, this book will also appeal to astronomers with more traditional equipment.


Author Notes

Michael Covington, an avid amateur astronomer since age 12, has degrees in linguistics from Cambridge and Yale. He does research on computer processing of human languages at The University of Georgia, where his work won first prize in the IBM Supercomputing Competition in 1990. His current research and consulting areas include theoretical linguistics, natural language processing, logic programming, and microcontrollers. Although a computational linguist by profession, he is recognized as one of America's leading amateur astronomers and is highly regarded in the field. He is the author of several books


Reviews 1

Choice Review

Many handbooks are available for amateur astronomers at all levels. Some are more weighted toward objects for observation and study through telescopes, while others concentrate on sky viewing via the naked eye. Covington's book falls into the former group, emphasizing telescope use. It is different from its many competitors in that it begins with a discussion of what makes a good observing site. Included here are weather, the effect of light pollution, dark adaptation, and the meaning of stellar magnitudes. Following this are more conventional chapters on planets, eclipses, and smaller objects, including comets and artificial satellites. Material on areas beyond the solar system includes sections on double and variable stars, clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. The contents include information on databases of use to observers, some of which are readily available on the Internet. Covington, an experienced amateur astronomer and computer science professor (Univ. of Georgia), incorporates much useful tabular information. He explains many small features in the world of astronomy that might otherwise confuse users of telescopes and sky catalogs. Altogether, one of the best of the field guides now available. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. General readers; lower-division undergraduates through graduate students; two-year technical program students. A. R. Upgren emeritus, Wesleyan University


Table of Contents

Prefacep. xiii
Part I Amateur astronomyp. 1
1 Using this book effectivelyp. 3
1.1 Amateur astronomy for a new generationp. 3
1.2 The maps are backward!p. 3
1.3 Old booksp. 5
1.4 Material you can skipp. 5
1.5 Pronouncing foreign namesp. 5
2 Observing sites and conditionsp. 6
2.1 Darkness and night visionp. 6
2.1.1 Dark adaptationp. 6
2.1.2 Twilight and moonlightp. 7
2.1.3 Light pollutionp. 7
2.1.4 Naked-eye limiting magnitudep. 8
2.1.5 The Bortle dark-sky scalep. 8
2.2 Atmospheric steadinessp. 12
2.3 Weather and the astronomerp. 13
2.3.1 Climate, weather, and seasonsp. 13
2.3.2 Using satellite weather datap. 14
2.3.3 Dewp. 16
2.4 Observing at remote sitesp. 18
2.4.1 Finding a sitep. 18
2.4.2 Transporting the telescopep. 18
2.4.3 Site etiquettep. 19
2.4.4 Keeping warmp. 20
2.4.5 Mosquitoesp. 20
2.4.6 Other verminp. 21
2.4.7 Safetyp. 22
3 The Moon, the Sun, and eclipsesp. 23
3.1 The Moonp. 23
3.1.1 Phases of the Moonp. 23
3.1.2 Why observe the Moon?p. 23
3.1.3 Names of lunar featuresp. 27
3.1.4 Coordinate systemsp. 30
3.1.5 Observing programsp. 30
3.1.6 Lunar eclipsesp. 31
3.1.7 Occultationsp. 33
3.2 The Sunp. 33
3.2.1 Sun filtersp. 33
3.2.2 Solar featuresp. 35
3.2.3 Solar eclipsesp. 37
4 The planetsp. 42
4.1 General conceptsp. 42
4.2 The view from Earthp. 42
4.3 Mercuryp. 44
4.3.1 Elongations of Mercury, 2002-2010p. 45
4.3.2 Transits of Mercuryp. 47
4.3.3 Observing Mercuryp. 47
4.4 Venusp. 47
4.4.1 Elongations of Venus, 2002-2010p. 47
4.4.2 Transits of Venusp. 48
4.4.3 Observing Venusp. 48
4.5 Marsp. 49
4.5.1 Oppositions of Mars, 2002-2010p. 49
4.5.2 Surface features of Marsp. 49
4.5.3 Named Martian featuresp. 51
4.5.4 Satellites of Marsp. 52
4.6 Jupiterp. 53
4.6.1 Oppositions of Jupiter, 2002-2010p. 53
4.6.2 Surface features of Jupiterp. 53
4.6.3 Satellites of Jupiterp. 55
4.7 Saturnp. 56
4.7.1 Oppositions of Saturnp. 56
4.7.2 Surface features of Saturnp. 56
4.7.3 Rings of Saturnp. 57
4.7.4 Satellites of Saturnp. 58
4.8 Uranusp. 59
4.8.1 Oppositions of Uranusp. 59
4.8.2 Surface features of Uranusp. 59
4.8.3 Satellites of Uranusp. 59
4.9 Neptunep. 60
4.9.1 Oppositions of Neptunep. 60
4.9.2 Surface features of Neptunep. 60
4.9.3 Satellites of Neptunep. 60
4.10 Plutop. 60
4.10.1 Oppositions of Plutop. 60
4.10.2 Telescopic appearancep. 61
4.10.3 Satellite of Plutop. 61
5 Comets, asteroids (minor planets), and artificial satellitesp. 62
5.1 Small objects in the Solar Systemp. 62
5.2 Orbits and ephemeridesp. 62
5.3 Asteroids (minor planets)p. 63
5.3.1 Observing asteroidsp. 63
5.3.2 Asteroid nomenclature and datap. 64
5.3.3 Finding asteroids with computerized telescopesp. 65
5.3.4 Discovering asteroidsp. 66
5.4 Cometsp. 67
5.4.1 Observing cometsp. 67
5.4.2 Comet designationsp. 68
5.4.3 Finding comets with computerized telescopesp. 69
5.4.4 How to discover a cometp. 70
5.4.5 Reporting a comet discoveryp. 71
5.5 Meteorsp. 72
5.6 Artificial Earth satellitesp. 73
5.6.1 Observing satellitesp. 73
5.6.2 Satellite orbitsp. 73
5.6.3 Satellite data filesp. 75
5.6.4 What to expect at the telescopep. 76
5.7 Orbital elements explainedp. 77
6 Constellationsp. 80
6.1 Constellation namesp. 80
6.2 How the constellations got their namesp. 84
6.3 Obsolete constellationsp. 86
6.4 The zodiacp. 86
7 Stars--identification, nomenclature, and mapsp. 87
7.1 Star namesp. 87
7.1.1 Traditional namesp. 87
7.1.2 Other star namesp. 90
7.1.3 Stars named after peoplep. 90
7.2 Modern star designationsp. 91
7.2.1 Bayer and Lacaille lettersp. 91
7.2.2 Flamsteed numbersp. 93
7.2.3 STAR numbersp. 93
7.3 Star mapsp. 93
7.3.1 Wide-field atlasesp. 93
7.3.2 Medium-scale atlasesp. 94
7.3.3 Telescopic atlasesp. 94
7.3.4 How to use a telescopic atlasp. 95
7.3.5 Sky mapping softwarep. 97
7.3.6 Palomar Observatory Sky Surveyp. 99
7.4 Star cataloguesp. 100
7.4.1 Online librariesp. 100
7.4.2 SAOp. 100
7.4.3 Other bright star cataloguesp. 101
7.4.4 Hubble Guide Star Catalogp. 101
7.4.5 Hipparcos and Tychop. 101
7.4.6 The cross-indexing problemp. 102
7.4.7 Bayer/Flamsteed to SAO cross-indexp. 102
8 Stars--physical propertiesp. 112
8.1 Magnitudep. 112
8.1.1 The magnitude systemp. 112
8.1.2 Calculations with magnitudesp. 112
8.1.3 Telescope magnitude limitsp. 113
8.1.4 Magnitudes in old booksp. 114
8.2 Number of stars in the skyp. 114
8.3 Distances of the starsp. 115
8.3.1 Distance unitsp. 115
8.3.2 Parallaxp. 116
8.3.3 Measuring greater distancesp. 116
8.3.4 Absolute magnitudep. 117
8.4 Colors and spectrap. 117
8.4.1 Star colorsp. 117
8.4.2 B and V magnitudes; color indexp. 118
8.4.3 Spectroscopyp. 119
8.5 Stellar physicsp. 120
8.5.1 Mass, luminosity, and temperaturep. 120
8.5.2 Stellar evolution in briefp. 120
8.5.3 More about stellar evolutionp. 121
9 Double and multiple starsp. 123
9.1 The importance of double starsp. 123
9.2 Position angle and separationp. 124
9.3 Binary-star orbitsp. 125
9.4 Telescope limitsp. 127
9.5 Making measurements for yourselfp. 128
9.5.1 The need for measurementsp. 128
9.5.2 Teague's reticle methodp. 128
9.5.3 Calibrating the linear scalep. 129
9.5.4 Taking a measurementp. 129
9.5.5 Turning off the drive motorsp. 130
9.6 Multiple-star nomenclature and cataloguesp. 130
10 Variable starsp. 132
10.1 Overviewp. 132
10.2 Types of variablesp. 132
10.2.1 Pulsating variablesp. 132
10.2.2 Irregular variablesp. 134
10.2.3 Eclipsing binariesp. 134
10.2.4 Novaep. 135
10.2.5 Reporting a discoveryp. 136
10.3 Nomenclaturep. 137
10.3.1 Letter designationsp. 137
10.3.2 Harvard designationsp. 137
10.3.3 GCVS numbersp. 138
10.4 Observing techniquesp. 140
10.4.1 Estimating magnitudesp. 140
10.4.2 Telescope considerationsp. 142
10.4.3 Sources of difficultyp. 142
10.4.4 Photographic observationp. 143
11 Clusters, nebulae, and galaxiesp. 144
11.1 The lure of the deep skyp. 144
11.2 Deep-sky objectsp. 144
11.2.1 Asterismsp. 144
11.2.2 Open clustersp. 145
11.2.3 Nebulaep. 145
11.2.4 Our galactic neighborhoodp. 146
11.2.5 Distant galaxiesp. 146
11.2.6 Active galaxies and quasarsp. 147
11.3 Observing techniquesp. 148
11.3.1 Star clustersp. 148
11.3.2 Bright nebulaep. 148
11.3.3 "Faint fuzzies"p. 149
11.3.4 Magnitude and surface brightnessp. 149
11.4 Catalogues and designationsp. 150
11.4.1 The Messier (M) cataloguep. 150
11.4.2 The Caldwell Cataloguep. 154
11.4.3 The Herschel (H) Cataloguep. 158
11.4.4 NGC, IC, RNGC, and CNGCp. 158
11.4.5 Other important cataloguesp. 161
11.5 Handbooks, classic and modernp. 161
11.5.1 Smyth's Cycle of Celestial Objectsp. 161
11.5.2 Webb's Celestial Objects for Common Telescopesp. 162
11.5.3 Hartung and Burnhamp. 162
11.5.4 Modern handbooksp. 164
Part II 200 interesting stars and deep-sky objectsp. 165
12 How these objects were chosenp. 167
13 The January-February sky (R.A. 6[superscript h]-10[superscript h])p. 171
14 The March-April sky (R.A. 10[superscript h]-14[superscript h])p. 183
15 The May-June sky (R.A. 14[superscript h]-18[superscript h])p. 197
16 The July-August sky (R.A. 18[superscript h]-22[superscript h])p. 205
17 The September-October sky (R.A. 22[superscript h]-2[superscript h])p. 223
18 The November-December sky (R.A. 2[superscript h]-6[superscript h])p. 235
Appendices
A Converting decimal minutes to secondsp. 248
B Precession from 1950 to 2000p. 249
C Julian date, 2001-2015p. 252
Indexp. 255