Cover image for Norton's star atlas and reference handbook, epoch 2000.0
Norton's star atlas and reference handbook, epoch 2000.0
Ridpath, Ian.
Personal Author:
Twentieth edition.
Publication Information:
London ; New York : Pi Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xi, 195 pages : color illustrations, color maps ; 29 cm
General Note:
Revision of: Norton's 2000.0. / edited by Arthur P. Norton.

Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QB65 .N7 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



The most famous guide to the stars is now the most accessible! Generations of amateur astronomers have called it simply Norton's- the most famous star atlas in the world. Now in a beautifully redesigned, two-color landmark 20th edition, this combination star atlas and reference guide has no match in the field.

First published in 1910, coinciding with the first of two appearances by Halley's Comet last century, Norton's owes much of its legendary success to its unique maps, arranged in slices or gores, each covering approximately one-fifth of the sky. Apart from being presented more accessibly than ever before, the text and tables have been revised and updated to account for the new and exciting developments in our observation of the cosmos. The star maps themselves were plotted using advanced computer techniques yielding outstanding accuracy and legibility. Every heavenly object visible to the naked eye is included-stars to magnitude 6, star clusters, and galaxies, as well as other celestial objects. Presented with an authority that has stood for generations, observation hints, technical explanations, and pointers to specialized information sources make this the only essential guide to the night sky.

The updated and revised hardcover 20th edition also has new moon maps, clearer tables, new diagrams and a section on the latest computer driven telescopes-today's perfect home reference for curious minds from beginners to dedicated star gazers!

What are people saying? . . . 'The unique and time-honored projection used in the Norton's star charts is particularly handy and has always been my favorite.' --Professor Owen Gingerich, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

'Once in a blue moon a book appears to dramatically and forever change its subject; in short, the work becomes an indispensable resource for generations. Norton's Star Atlas is such a work.' -Leif J. Robinson, Editor Emeritus, Sky and Telescope

'Ian Ridpath is one of the most dedicated and prolific writers on astronomy. His works all have clarity and authority, and he is ideally suited to infuse new life into a classic.' -Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal, University of Cambridge, author of Our Final Hour

Author Notes

Ian Ridpath is an internationally renowned writer and broadcaster on astronomy and space. He is editor of the authoritative Oxford Dictionary of Astronomy . He is author of three standard observing guides for amateur astronomers and a book on the mythology of the constellations. He lives in London, England.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Now in its 20th edition (the last was published in 1998 by Addison-Wesley), this guide to the stars has been helpfully updated and beautifully redesigned with new data tables and sections on the recently developed computer-controlled telescopes and CCD imaging. In his informative and engaging preface, Ridpath, editor of the Oxford Dictionary of Astronomy, narrates the history of the book and explains its charts. The book opens with a chapter entitled "Position and Time," which clearly explains such physical concepts such as "The Celestial Sphere" and "Daily Rotation." The chapter "Stars, Nebulae and Galaxies" offers tables of constellations with the names, abbreviations, area and size of each. For moon lovers there is a four-page spread that clearly outlines the moon's craters; for stargazers, the highlight comes at the end of the book: 18 sky charts. (Dec.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Review

Since it was first published in 1910, this has been an essential reference for anyone who spends time studying the night sky. In the preface, internationally renowned editor Ridpath, who is also the editor of the Oxford Dictionary of Astronomy and has three other observing guides to his credit, chronicles the atlas's history and explains its star charts. In this 20th edition, star maps and charts have been updated for the new millennium. The text and tables have also been revised to reflect advances in the field of astronomy since the 19th edition was published in 1998. The four Moon and three Mars maps are new, as are the sections on computer-controlled telescopes and CCD (electronic) imaging. The book assumes little background knowledge and provides brief but thorough explanations of some basic principles before it segues to much more in-depth topics. Text on celestial objects-including planets, comets, occultations, meteor showers, eclipses, nebulae, and stars-explains what to look for and when. Coordinates and magnitudes are listed in the tables accompanying the 18 sky charts. Two-color tables and graphics are beautifully done and easy to read. Glitzier star atlases are available, with full-color and false-color images of night sky objects that are not seen here, but Norton's is still the standard by which others are judged. This is not the volume for the casual backyard observer who just wants to learn the constellations; it is serious astronomy presented in a way that's clear enough for neophytes yet still challenging for the much more experienced. A highly recommended addition to the reference collections of public and academic libraries of all sizes.-Denise Hamilton, Heritage Christian Sch., Rindge, NH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Preface This, the 20th edition of Norton's Star Atlas , has been completely redesigned and reset to give it a fresh, modern appearance for a new century. The star charts have been relabelled to make them more legible and attractive. Among the updates and improvements to the reference handbook and its data tables, we have introduced new sections on computer-controlled telescopes and CCD imaging, both of which have changed the face of amateur astronomy in the five years since the 19th edition appeared. We have also enlarged the section on observing deep-sky objects, which are popular targets for amateurs. Other major improvements include completely new maps of the Moon and Mars. Throughout, the needs of the active observer have been kept uppermost in mind. In its previous editions, Norton's earned the reputation of being the most famous and most widely used star atlas in the world, and its reference handbook has become an indispensable companion for observers of all standards. We believe that this latest edition will carry the tradition of Norton's Star Atlas well into the twenty-first century. History Norton's Star Atlas first appeared in 1910. It achieved immediate success, due largely to its uniquely convenient arrangement of charts in slices, or 'gores', each covering approximately one-fifth of the sky, and its inclusion of stars down to sixth magnitude, the naked-eye limit. The Atlas was intended for owners of small telescopes, particularly those who wanted to find the objects of interest that were listed in two famous observing guides by nineteenth-century amateur astronomers: Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes by the Rev. T. W. Webb, and Cycle of Celestial Objects by W. H. Smyth. Over the years Norton's established an international reputation, becoming a standard reference work for amateur and professional astronomers alike. The author of the Atlas, Arthur Philip Norton (1876--1955), was an amateur astronomer; his full-time occupation was as a schoolmaster. Had it not been for his Atlas he would have remained almost unknown in the world of astronomy. Norton was born in Cardiff, Wales, the son of a clergyman. His interest in astronomy started when, as a schoolboy, he was given a telescope that had belonged to his great-grandfather. After receiving his BA degree from Trinity College, Dublin, he taught at various schools in England. For 22 years Norton taught geography and mathematics at the Judd School, Tonbridge, Kent, retiring in 1936. Norton published no books other than the Atlas on which his fame rests (and a simplified version, the Popular Star Atlas , which appeared in 1949), but during his lifetime it went through numerous editions, and he updated the star charts twice. Back in 1910, when Norton's Star Atlas first appeared, there were no officially recognized boundaries to the constellations -- a deficiency that the International Astro-nomical Union rectified in 1930. For the 5th edition of his Atlas, published in 1933, Arthur Norton redrew the charts to incorporate the newly defined IAU constellation boundaries, and he set the magnitude limit of the stars at 6.2, based on the Harvard Revised Photometry catalogue (the magnitude limit of the 1st edition had not been precisely defined). Norton by now had to cope with the fact that the sight in his left eye was badly blurred as a result of a blood clot behind the retina, but it did not affect the quality of his charts. Celestial cartographers are faced with a problem that does not afflict their terrestrial counterparts: the coordinates of all stars are gradually changing with time, because of an effect called precession. This means that all star charts are bound to become progressively out of date. The epoch (i.e. the reference date for the star positions) of the original Norton's was 1920. For the 9th edition, published in 1943, Norton redrew his charts again, this time for the standard epoch of 1950.0, and further extended the magnitude limit of the stars to 6.35. That version of the charts remained in print long after his death. Inevitably, with the passage of time, another change of epoch became necessary. For the 18th edition of Norton's , published in 1989, the charts were redrawn to the standard epoch of 2000.0, using technology that Norton could hardly have dreamed of. And for the first time Norton's contained nothing by Arthur Norton himself, although his influence lived on in more than just the title. The Charts An early decision in preparing the star charts for the new epoch was to retain their existing arrangement, which had stood the test of time. A subtle difference was that both the polar charts and the equatorial gores now used the same projection, known as Lambert's azimuthal equi-distant projection, which allows large areas of sky to be represented with little distortion. Norton never stated the projections that he used; the gores were apparently plotted on a modified globular projection of his own devising. In the new charts, the plane of the projection surface touches the celestial sphere at the poles for the polar charts, and at the celestial equator for the gores. To minimize distortion, each gore has been projected from its central meridian at the equator. All the projections were generated by computer for maximum accuracy. The projection software was written at the cartographic company of John Bartholomew & Son in Edinburgh. The outlines of the Milky Way, the Magellanic Clouds, the galactic equator and the ecliptic were added by our cartographic consultant, Mike Swan. In addition to being a former professional cartographer with the Ordnance Survey, he is a deep-sky observer with the Webb Society. His expertise in both astronomy and cartography was a vital ingredient in the project. With all the data converted into machine-readable form, the charts were generated on film at Bartholomews. These films then went to Mike Swan for hand-labelling and final checking. Films combining the star charts and labelling were output at Bartholomews, from which printing plates were produced. For the 20th edition of Norton's, the charts were redrawn and relabelled by the book's designer, Charles Nix and his associate Gary Robbins. Data For information on positions and magnitudes of stars we adopted the Yale Bright Star Catalogue (BS) and its Supplement. The BS contains the same stars as the Harvard Revised Photometry catalogue that Arthur Norton used for his charts, but with considerably improved magnitude measurements. We chose a magnitude limit of 6.49 (i.e. encompassing all stars of 6th magnitude and brighter), against the 6.35 used for the 1950.0 maps. Dorrit Hoffleit of Yale University Observatory, senior author of the BS, and Wayne Warren of the National Space Science Data Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, supplied magnetic tapes of the 5th edition of the Bright Star Catalogue . They also supplied tapes of the 1983 Supplement to the BS, from which we extracted stars brighter than mag. 6.50 that were not included in the main BS, having been missed by the original Harvard Revised Photometry . Data required for the maps were extracted from the BS tapes by the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, and were supplied to Bartholomew with the constellation boundaries added. Data for the galactic charts were also supplied by the ROE. Even in a computerized operation such as this, considerable manual intervention was still necessary. Since the BS does not include deep-sky objects, lists of star clusters, nebulae and galaxies were drawn up by Mike Swan for addition to the stellar database. He also spent many hours identifying variable stars, and stars that are both variable and double, for depiction by special symbols on the charts. Ordinary double stars were identified directly from the BS tapes. The charts for the current edition of Norton's Star Atlas show over 8800 stars. The star symbols are graduated in whole-magnitude steps for ease of identification. The few stars of magnitude 0 and 21 are given the same size symbol as stars of magnitude 11. The percentage of stars in each magnitude range is as follows: magnitude range percentage of stars in Norton's Star Atlas 21.50 to 11.49 0.25 11.50 to 12.49 0.9 12.50 to 13.49 2.5 13.50 to 14.49 7.2 14.50 to 15.49 22.6 15.50 to 16.49 66.5 Double and Multiple Stars Stars that are listed in the BS as double or multiple are identified on the charts by a special symbol (a line bisecting the star dot) if their separation is at least 0.1arcsec. The exceptions to this system are stars whose components are wide enough to be plotted separately; these do not carry the double-star symbol unless they have other, closer companions. Spectroscopic binaries and other exceptionally close doubles (e.g. those found by occultation studies or speckle interferometry) are not denoted by the double-star symbol on the maps. In the list of interesting objects that accompanies each chart in Norton's Star Atlas , the double stars are restricted to those with a combined magnitude brighter than 6.5. For the 20th edition, position, separation and magnitude data for these stars were checked against the latest edition of the Washington Double Star Catalogue. All the double stars in these lists are labelled on the charts. Variable Stars Those variable stars with a range of at least 0.1 mag. and a maximum magnitude brighter than 6.5, as listed in the BS and other sources consulted by us, are identified by a variable-star symbol. This symbol consists of a ring surrounding a solid dot; the size of the outer ring indicates the maximum magnitude of the star. Those variables, including novae, whose minimum brightness takes them below our chart limit of mag. 6.49 are denoted by an open circle only. More than 500 variable stars are identified on the charts, including over 40 that are not in the BS or its Supplement but for which we found evidence of maxima above mag. 6.5 (certain classes of variable, particularly those of long period, have ranges of variation that are not precisely bounded). A combined symbol is used to identify nearly 150 stars that are both variable and double. The lists of variable stars that accompany the charts are believed to include all variables that have an amplitude of at least 0.4 mag. and a maximum brighter than approximately mag. 6.5. All the variables contained in these lists are labelled on the charts. Deep-sky Objects Separate symbols are used to distinguish each class of deep-sky object: open star clusters, globular star clusters, diffuse nebulae, planetary nebulae and galaxies. Additionally, the charts depict the true shape and extent of nebulae and galaxies that are larger than about 0()().5 in apparent diameter. In all, over 600 deep-sky objects are shown. The most interesting of them are briefly described in the notes accompanying each chart. Reference Handbook Over the years, the Reference Handbook section has become as valuable a part of Norton's as the Atlas itself. In the 1st edition the text amounted to only 18 pages, mostly written by James Gall Inglis (1865--1939). By the 5th edition in 1933 the text had grown to 51 pages, and by the 17th edition in 1978 it covered 116 pages. For the 18th edition the text was rewritten almost entirely, while attempting to retain the essential character of Norton's . The emphasis remained on reference information and practical observing advice that is often difficult to obtain elsewhere, a philosophy that has been maintained in subsequent editions. As in previous editions we have decided against giving a bibliography, but mention must be made of Burnham's Celestial Handbook (in three volumes) by Robert Burnham Jr. (Dover Publications). Although now dated, this is an invaluable companion to Norton's and remains a classic guide for observers. A more compact handbook, with individual constellation charts and notes on objects of interest, is Guide to Stars and Planets by Ian Ridpath and Wil Tirion (HarperCollins U.K., Princeton University Press U.S.). Excerpted from Norton's Star Atlas and Reference Handbook: And Reference Handbook, 20th Edition by Ian Ridpath All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

ForewordLeif J. Robinson
1 Position and Time
The Heavens Above
Date and Time
2 Practical Astronomy
Astronomical Instruments
Astronomical Imaging
3 The Solar System
The Sun
The Moon
The Planets and Their Satellites
Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto
Minor Planets
Aurorae, Noctilucent Clouds and the Zodiacal Light
Artificial Satellites
4 Stars, Nebulae and Galaxies
The Stars - Constellations and Nomenclature
Radiation, Magnitude and Luminosity
Distances, Motions and Physical Parameters
Spectral Classification
Stellar Evolution
Double Stars
Variable Stars
Clusters, Nebulae and Galaxies
5 Star Charts
Units and Notation
Astronomical Constants
Symbols and Abbreviations
Useful Addresses