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Book Reviews


Atlas of the Messier Objects

Authors: Ronald Stoyan, Stefan Binnewies, Susanne Friedrich and Klaus-Peter Schroeder

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 978-0-521-89554-5

Price: £35.00 (Hb), 370pp


Atlas of Messier Objects

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Messier's catalogue is the most famous and popular collection of 110 deep sky objects, ranging from galaxies and nebulae to star clusters. Previous publications by Mallas and Kreimer, Glyn-Johns and O'Meara have more than ably informed and guided observers in the past, but this superb, monumental work takes things to a new level and will become the standard work for years to come.

The large format book is split into several sections: the first 70 or so pages include a reproduction of the text of Messier's catalogue, the compelling story of Messier and his contempories including Nicolas Louis de Lacaille, and notes on many great visual observers who followed in their wake. The main body of the work is coverage of each of the Messier objects in turn. Once you've finished M1 it's clear that this is the most comprehensive guide yet (the M31 section is brilliant); the objects are covered from every angle the reader and observer could want – historical, astrophysical and observational. The often fascinating history includes discovery (Messier didn't discover all the objects) and original observational accounts. We are brought right up to date on astrophysical properties, including age and distance; it's clear some meticulous research has been done. The observation section has very useful information on what observers can expect to see depending on what telescope they have.

Throughout there are fantastic images taken by leading amateurs including Robert Gendler and Stefan Binnewies, which are all brilliantly reproduced. The odd Hubble picture is in there too. Usefully, there are many historical sketches from the likes of Lord Rosse and William Lassell and splendid new ones, many from Ronald Stoyan himself. It would probably be worth buying the book just for the pictures alone but there is so much great stuff packed in that this masterful volume is a must for any astronomer. If this book doesn't make you want to get out there and observe the wonderful Messier objects then nothing will.

Mark Armstrong

 

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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