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Book Reviews


The Sun and How to Observe it
Author: Jamey L Jenkins

Publisher: Springer

ISBN: 978-0-387-09497-7

Price: £21.99 (Pb), 206pp


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When I first came to solar observing 40 years ago, there was only one book for the practical solar observer – W M Baxter’s The Sun and the Amateur Astronomer. This is something the author of this new book acknowledges. Springer has now produced this third book on solar observing for the amateur.

Jenkins is an American amateur observer and he has written a very interesting book full of information for the solar enthusiast. There are tips on types of observatories (roll- off-roof preferable) and an easy little formula for calculating the distance from the eyepiece to the projection screen to get a 150mm projected image of the Sun; a real aid when building a projection box.

The author describes how a solar hydrogen-alpha filter works – very interesting to the beginner, and the old-time observer alike. There are fact-filled pages on digital solar photography – a method the author prefers to gather his daily sunspot counts rather than whole-disc solar drawing, a method he hardly covers at all. This does let an otherwise good book down a bit as many imaging observers still produce daily whole-disc drawings plotting the position of spots and calculating a sunspot number. For example, the professional Catania Observatory in Italy still publish daily disc drawings.

Being a Springer book, it is very well illustrated, with many of the images supplied by the author himself.

Although just recently published it is already ‘dated’; Coronado have stopped producing the calcium light version of their Personal Solar Telescope. The solar section of the British Astronomical Association have a worldwide network of reporting solar observers, not just UK-based contributors. I feel the daily solar ephemeris for position angles (P°, B°, L°) until January 2012 unnecessary. These are minor quibbles. Would I recommend this book? If one already has Lee Mcdonald’s solar observing book, (also published by Springer) it would be difficult to justify the purchase of another with a similar theme but if you are new to solar astronomy, this book will be a good guide to observing our nearest star.

Brian Halls

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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