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Book Reviews


Meteors and How to Observe Them
Author: Robert Lunsford

Publisher: Springer

ISBN: 978-0-387-09460-1

Price: ?27.99 (Pb), 192pp


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This guide to observing meteor showers contains much useful information for a newcomer to meteor observing, especially  with regards to practical advice relating to meteor watches. One third of the book covers the major showers; another third the  lesser known showers, all with useful charts included to show the radiant locations and their daily motion. A further twenty-five pages describe the various methods used to observe meteors. It is all up to date, relying on recent work by Peter Jenniskens, Sirko Molau and the meteor shower lists published
by the International Meteor Organisation.

On the downside, the lists that should have appeared in figures 3.1, 4.1 and 5.1 are missing. As a result, their places are taken by what should have been figures 3.2, 4.2 and 5.2 and consequently all of the subsequent tables, charts and images are out of step both numerically and positionally.

There are also problems with the examples of completed report forms - the headings for the columns in the basic and advanced forms don't link in with the information covered in the text, the time column in the basic form is reproduced too narrow and loses the last digit, and the watch times specified would correspond to late morning from the specified location.

The book also seems to spend too much time comparing the visibility of each major shower from different latitudes (all south of the UK) when a table of radiant altitudes would suffice. There are also a few places in which the author makes statements that many observers would disagree with; for example he states as fact that simultaneous meteor sounds are genuine. Be aware also of American date formats - the Quadrantid activity period of 01/01 to 01/05 is five days, not four months!

In summary, this is a potentially useful book that seems to have been let down by inadequate proof checking.

Tony Markham

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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