Posted on Tuesday, September 01, 2015
By Kadri Tinn |

"From Casual Stargazer to Amateur Astronomer" by Dave Eagle

Are you feeling down in the dumps when it comes to dragging out your poor lonely telescope to go and observe the same old Moon? Are you feeling like  only a very bright comet could lure you out of bed at a pre-dawn hour? Does a pile of anything cover your telescope? Do you feel like there's nothing left in the Universe for you to observe?

If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions, you might have gotten over your honeymoon phase with your astronomy hobby, and might need some relationship counselling in the form of this book.

Let's get serious now. This book has a real power to motivate people who either have recently started out with observations or have had a serious pause in observing for one reason or other (or tens of reasons, as you can find out here), or are finding themselves without anything to observe or without any motivation for it.

The book is useful in pointing out hundreds of ways how to go deeper into observational astronomy for your own enjoyment or find something interesting to do on a clear night out with your telescope.
It isn't quite a basic manual for observations, but rather reads like a troubleshooting manual for a malfunctioning observer - which means that it's wonderful. It would be useful for a beginner too, to know what kind of pit-falls to avoid, but I think that someone who is more acquainted with astronomical observations will enjoy it more. This book is the cheaper option for finding more motivation to observe rather than buying a bigger and more expensive telescope.

What can you find in this book? You can learn more about the biological aspects that are involved in observations - how long does it take to see the dimmest objects possible with the naked eye, how does coffee and alcohol affect your eyesight.

Also what you can do while observing, to pay more attention to one object instead of rushing through all the Messier objects. Maybe try sketching them or try astrophotography?

And ofcourse you can read about different astronomical objects that you might want to consider observing with pointers at what to actually pay attention to - I'm sure many of us are too familiar with observers who look at an object for five seconds and say they've seen it all now.

Dave Eagle's "From Casual Stargazer to Amateur Astronomer" is a truly wonderful book, a guiding hand that will lead you from losing hope in ever observing anything interesting again, to being inspired and motivated to observe anything and everything and to really observe it and not just look at it.

If you reach this book at the right time, it might help someone keep up an interest in astronomical observations.
Also this book is certainly one that is useful to read from cover to cover rather than just dipping in where you think it might interest you - it's so well written that you might just find that  something you've considered boring to observe, is the most exciting object to draw or keep coming back to in different conditions. It functions exceedingly well at really showing the reader how to go from basics to paying close attention to what, when and how you observe and record.

Highly recommended!


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Posted on Thursday, August 27, 2015
By Kadri Tinn |
Although the Active region 2403 is slowly disappearing behind the limb of the Sun, there are still enough details to make the Sun interesting in H-alpha. Credit: Kadri Tinn

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Posted on Thursday, August 27, 2015
By Kadri Tinn |
Green auroras in Tartu, Estonia. Credit: Kadri Tinn

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Posted on Tuesday, August 25, 2015
By Kadri Tinn |
Sun In H-alpha. Credit: Kadri Tinn

Sun in H-alpha on August 23rd, 2015. Credit: Kadri Tinn

Sun in white light on August 23rd, 2015. Credit: Kadri Tinn

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Posted on Tuesday, August 25, 2015
By Kadri Tinn |
Sun in H-alpha on August 22nd, 2015. Credit: Kadri Tinn

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Posted on Tuesday, August 25, 2015
By Kadri Tinn |
After a couple of failures for supply missions to reach the ISS, finally one has successfully arrived and docked.

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Posted on Tuesday, August 25, 2015
By Kadri Tinn |
Alpha Centauri: Unveiling the Secrets of Our Nearest Stellar Neighbor by Martin Beech

Alpha Centauri is a curious star - most fourth-graders know that it's the nearest star to us, yet almost no-one knows Alpha Centauri with a different name such as Rigil Kent or Toliman, although most other bright stars are rarely called Alpha Canis Majoris or Alpha Böootes if you can get away easier with Sirius or Arcturus.

Alpha Centauri is made even more curious in this book, as would happen with any topic if you just go deep enough into it.

So in this book you find out a lot more about the Alpha Centauri systems than you could by reading it's entry on wikipedia, but not only that - you can read about it in a fascinating way and at the same time you get a deeper insight into all stars in general and into our own Sun as well, and the history of observing the Alpha Centauri system is quite interesting.

Naturally enough as Alpha Centauri appears very bright, it was a natural choice as one of the stars for measuring stellar parallax in the 1830s, and you can find out more about that in the book. Reading about it with the attention on Alpha Centauri made something in my head click and suddenly it seemed very logical to me why Struve in Tartu chose Vega and Henderson Alpha Centauri and also why Bessel didn't choose Sirius, although I still wonder why he chose 61 Cygni...

In general this book was wonderful in making the reader think more deeply about stars, their distances and their similarities and differences to our Sun. Also the question whether Proxima Centauri is actually a part of the Alpha Centauri system is very interesting.
The book is well written and researched and it makes you long for other similar books about some other remarkable stars as well.

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