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Book Reviews


Astronomical Spectroscopy for Amateurs

Author: Ken Harrison

Publisher: Springer

ISBN:978-1-4419-7238-5

Price: £24.47 (Pb) 254pp


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Ken Harrison is one of the most respected members of the astronomical spectroscopy and solar imaging scene. In this truly magnificent book, Harrison takes you on a journey through the history of spectroscopy, through all of the baseline techniques that an amateur will need to go from imaging any object that a spectra can be obtained from, be that comets, our Sun, stars, planets or even the brief flashes of a meteor, and then concludes with a start to finish methodology, including some very simple mathematics, on how an amateur can design and build their very own spectroscope. Harrison covers all of the major commercially available products in some detail, as well as critical user issues such as spacing your grating from the eyepiece of the CCD and the basics of what makes a spectrum. Setting up spectroscopes with a wide variety of cameras and CCDs is covered, from simple DSLRs with eyepiece gratings to calibrated fibre optic solutions with cooled CCD cameras.

The chapter on processing spectra assumes some knowledge, but that knowledge is imparted through the rest of the book and whilst the latest software such as Rspec is not covered, his treatise on VSPEC, a very popular application, means that you'll be well equipped to deal with pretty much anything. One of the highlights is the chapter on amateur spectroscopy projects, which sits at a perfect juncture in the book. Comets, planetary spectra (Uranus being an example) as well as the Doppler shift measurements for binary stars are all fed to you as tasty teasers, which you have to think about, rather than be spoon-fed step-by-step. It's a brilliant way to learn the art.

Ken Harrison's book is an absolute must have for anyone considering stepping from just taking pretty pictures of the night sky to doing some serious science. Available also in Kindle format, your iPad will love you for it too!

Nick Howes

 

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