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Book Reviews


Making Every Photon Count
Author: Steve Richards

Publisher: Chanctonbury Observatory

Available from: www.skyatnightimages.co.uk


Price: £19.95 (Pb), 194pp


Steve Richards’ images and online presence are well-known and, in taking the brave step to self publish this book, he has put into words and pictures just how he creates his superb images.

The book has a forward by none other than Sir Patrick Moore praising the approach Steve has taken, which unlike many other imaging guides and tutorial products, really does set out to lead the absolute beginner through all the steps of the imaging process.

The book begins with a chapter on equipment that acts as a guide to telescopes and mounts, as well as CCD technology, and whilst relatively brief, it does give some good practical advice on selection and set-up of equipment. This chapter alone could almost warrant an entire book, but as equipment changes so rapidly, it would be out of date very quickly! From thereon the rest of the book is split into chapters describing the six ‘F’s of astro imaging – Find, Focus, Frame, Follow, Film and Finish – and Steve leads the budding imager by the hand through each.

These six ‘F’s provide the meat of the book, although ‘Find’ being only one page in length seems a little odd, and only really covers the use of the GOTO approach (with one paragraph on star hopping). To be honest, this chapter could have been rolled into some of the set-up chapter, rather than being a section in its own right. The ‘Focus’ section is also short and seems to disregard the Hartmann mask, which is a staple for many astrophotographers. The points made against it are valid in some respects, but to devote most of the chapter to the newly developed Bahtinov mask, and not cover something as simple as diffraction spike focusing, seems a little amiss. Likewise, the chapters on following, filming and finishing the object of choice, are all short, but when you have finished reading them all, you realise that the author has managed to lead you through a really good walkthrough of most of what you actually ‘need’ to know, even if it isn’t totally comprehensive.

The book concludes with even more useful data, with topics like drift alignment, collimation and correcting for optical errors being three highlights. Steve covers his own set-up in some detail, giving practical advice with regard to computer integration, followed by some great examples of his own images, along with useful data and web links to round off the book nicely.

For a self-published book, the print quality is good, although the text on the pages is somewhat offset from central, but this does not detract from it being a well thought-out guide for imagers to work from. If you are still not sure about taking the step into astro-imaging, I can more than heartily recommend this book as a great overview of what it entails and how great images can be achieved.

Nick Howes

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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