Posted on Tuesday, January 07, 2014
By Kadri

Telescopes And Techniques by C. R. Kitchin

Rating: 9/10

Telescopes And Techniques is a book that would be helpful for every new telescope owner, and of interest to also more seasoned amateur astronomers, but it will be a real gem for students just starting to learn about observational astronomy.

The book starts quite logically with an overview of the history of telescopes, and no-one who reads it, will have the false impression that Galileo Galilei was the inventor of the telescope, as is sadly widely thought. And as the historical designs are introduced, you can get a quick overview even just by looking at the schematics of different optical systems and aberrations as well. However the history of the telescopes in this book is a short overview and if the reader isn't looking to find out more about it, then this is just a small part of what "Telescopes and Techniques" has to offer.

Modern telescopes are an important subject in this book - different varieties are introduced, not just the optical schemes, but also different mounting systems for telescopes and even space telescopes and those with segmented mirrors are introduced in addition to the ones used in ground-based observatories.

Although the book is only 263 pages long, it seems to fit inside it a lot of information that one wouldn't think of needing to know, but in the end will be essential to using a small amateur telescope effectively or understanding how the modern large telescopes are used in research.

Kitchin's "Telescopes And Techniques" bridges the gap between being a textbook of practical astronomy and a handbook of telescope maintenance and use. It certainly gives a deep insight into how does the telescope actually work, what do different parts do, and do you actually need to have all the differently named accessories for your telescope.

So for example in a course of practical astronomy you would be expected to know how interferometers work and what aberrations plague different kinds of telescopes and why modern research telescopes have mostly segmented mirrors, but you wouldn't necessarily be expected to know how to collimate a telescope - but it is something that an owner of a reflector would have to know, and all that is described in the book.

But then come up other topics - positions in the sky - different kinds of coordinate systems used in astronomy are explained, as well as for example what are the differences between solar time and mean solar time, and what are civil and sidereal times. But that is just the beginning of it, one can also learn about detectors, data processing and the basics and principles of photometry and spectroscopy.

All the topics in this book have been explained thoroughly and are also represented with clear schematics that help towards understanding. And although the book starts with not expecting much from the reader, by the end if the book has been thoroughly read, the reader will have gained a lot of information, that is useful both if you're a student of astronomy and aren't really expecting to conduct any observations yourself, or when you're an amateur observing every chance you get, but it will be certainly useful when you're an instructor talking about telescopes and observations, as it might give one some ideas how to explain some concept more easily. 

In conclusion "Telescopes An Techniques" is a very informative and well structured book that will definitely be consulted even after having been read the first time.


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