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Book Reviews


Amateur Telescope Making In the Internet Age
Author: Robert L Clark

Publisher: Springer

ISBN: 978-1441964144

Price: £23.99 (Pb) 204pp


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Resting in an honoured position on my bookcase are the three volumes of Ingall’s classic, Amateur Telescope Making. Their post-war contents encapsulate the ingenuity of amateur astronomers in bending arcane materials to the pursuit of the heavens. I was eager to find out from this book how their equivalents in this ‘Internet age’ are dealing with the same challenges.

It is interesting to see from the book’s contents that little has changed since Ingall’s time so far as raw materials are concerned. Indeed, this American author has written a book that is a wonderful reflection of its honoured antecedent. However, although a telescope project may still begin with an overweight telephoto lens dredged from the bottom of a lake (!), the materials that subsequently transmogrify that forlorn component into a window on the Universe can be no further away than that other window-like portal, the web. An impressive appendix contains websites from which a vast array of raw materials may be gleaned. Sources of many disparate oddments such as gears, timber, lenses, finder rings, motors etc are at your keyboard fingertips.

The book is based on many of the author’s own projects – and as such the engineering solutions are perhaps rather heavily biased on the particular resources that he himself found and built on. Nevertheless, the book contains everything you need to consider when building a telescope from your own ‘scrap’; how to assess optics, design considerations and many wrinkles that assist the amateur telescope maker to meet and even exceed the engineering tolerances of commercial telescope manufacturers.

This is a hugely useful book for anyone with a modicum of engineering skill, a shed full of tools and a roving eye for scrap. If you have an old photocopier lens in the loft, or any unused lens looking for a noble purpose, this book is for you. In the use of imperial units throughout the text, I am impressed, too (as always) by the United States’ brave stand against the tidal wave of world metrification.

Steve Ringwood

2009 Yearbook
This 132-page special edition features the ultimate observing guide for 2009, a review of all the biggest news stories of 2008, in depth articles covering all aspects of astronomy and space missions for 2009, previews of International Year of Astronomy events and much, much more.
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Infinity Rising
This special publication features the photography of British astro-imager Nik Szymanek and covers a range of photographic methods from basic to advanced. Beautiful pictures of the night sky can be obtained with a simple camera and tripod before tackling more difficult projects, such as guided astrophotography through the telescope and CCD imaging.
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Exploring Mars
Astronomy Now is pleased to announce the publication of Exploring Mars. The very best images of Mars taken by orbiting spacecraft and NASA's Spirit and Opportunity rovers fill up the 98 glossy pages of this special edition!
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Mars rover poster
This new poster features some of the best pictures from NASA's amazing Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity.
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