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Book Reviews


Choosing and Using a Dobsonian Telescope

Author: Neil English

Publisher: Springer

ISBN:978-1-4419-8785-3

Price: £31.99 (Pb) 232pp


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Following his highly regarded book about refracting telescopes, Neil English, a very experienced observer and long time contributor to Astronomy Now, has now written a book about that icon of modern astronomy, the Dobsonian telescope. He begins with a brief account of John Dobson's life and how, whilst a monk, he began to make Newtonian telescopes supported by a very simple alt-azimuth mount and take these out onto the sidewalks of California to show the general public the beauty of the heavens.

The components that make up the Newtonian tube assembly are covered before the main content of the book is reached – a thorough review of the currently available Dobsonian telescopes, from the ‘mini-Dobs’ of three to 4.5 inches aperture that are great for beginners through to the 16–40 inch telescopes for astronomers who have caught aperture fever! This section, along with the rest of the book, is beautifully illustrated and is a superb survey of those available. Neil English adds to his own detailed reviews of many of these telescopes with the views of others who own those he has not personally used. Many are of American or Asian origin, but included are those made by in the UK by David Lukehurst – including a wonderful 20-inch ultra portable telescope – and Orion Optics of Crewe who now produce closed tube Dobsonians up to 16 inches in aperture as well as a 20-inch semi truss-tube model.

There follow sections on adjusting and testing the telescopes and adding accessories that can enhance their use, such as the TeleVue Paracorr that can significantly reduce the coma that is inherent in short focal length Newtonians, along with equatorial platforms that allow Dobsonians to track objects across the sky. The author concludes the book with a short section on using them for sketching and imaging and a brief look at the future with the use of conical mirrors and the construction of a 71-inch telescope in California!

Having used a home-built 10-inch Dobsonian for much of my own observing over the years, I have really enjoyed reviewing this book and highly recommend it.

Ian Morison

 

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