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The first observing handbook for the 21st Century...

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Celestial Objects for Modern Telescopes

by Michael A. Covington

(Previously announced as Amateur Astronomy with Modern Telescopes)

Published September 26, 2002, by Cambridge University Press
ISBN 0-521-52419-9 (paperback)
Available from Amazon.Com and other fine booksellers

Full ordering information
Outline and sample pages
Corrections to the first printing (PDF)
Updates and additional information
Object databases for TheSky, Starry Night, SkyMap Pro, etc.

Handbook for a new generation...

This is a new guide for amateur astronomers, not a clone of an earlier book. It features:
  • A complete guide to observing the Solar System and beyond
  • Emphasis on newly available Internet information sources
  • Moon map and finder charts that match the view through a telescope with a star diagonal
  • Pronunciations of all foreign names, including constellations, stars, and lunar features
  • Practical advice on observing with portable telescopes
  • Naked-eye limiting magnitude charts to measure sky transparency in the field
  • How to star-hop - and why you must sometimes do it even with a computerized telescope
  • Detailed descriptions of 200 stars and deep-sky objects visible from suburban skies
  • Complete Messier and Caldwell catalogues, Bayer/Flamsteed to SAO cross-index, and information about all other widely used catalogues
  • Comet, asteroid, and satellite observing, with explanation of orbital elements
Written as a companion volume to How to Use a Computerized Telescope, it is equally usable by itself, whether or not the telescope is computerized.

Contents and sample pages...

Part I - Amateur Astronomy

1     Using This Book Effectively   Sample page
2     Observing Sites and Conditions   Sample page
3     The Moon, the Sun, and Eclipses
4     The Planets
5     Comets, Asteroids, and Artificial Satellites   Sample page
6     Constellations   Sample page
7     Stars - Identification, Nomenclature, and Maps   Sample page
          (Note: The book does not contain a star atlas.)
8     Stars - Physical Properties
9     Double and Multiple Stars   Sample page
10   Variable Stars
11   Clusters, Nebulae, and Galaxies

Part II - Celestial Objects for Suburban Telescopes

12   Overview   Sample page
13   January-February   Sample page
14   March-April  Sample page
15   May-June   Sample page
16   July-August
17   September-October
18   November-December  Sample page


A   Converting Decimal Minutes to Seconds
B   Precession, 1950-2000
C   Julian Date, 2001-2015

NOTICE: The sample pages are
and may not be reproduced without permission. To view the sample pages, you may have to download and install Adobe Reader, available free of charge from

There's more! See also...

How to Use a Computerized Telescope Astrophotography for the Amateur Digital SLR Astrophotography

Other books by Michael A. Covington

Links to other astronomy sites

Michael Covington's academic and personal web pages


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Last Revision October 4, 2009