The essence of the book is given in the opening. Get past the beginner stage by finding new interests; specialize in subbranches of observational astronomy (page 2; page 4). After that, the writing devolves into a rambling monologue directed at knowledgeable amateurs. The information provided serves more as reminders of what we know, rather than providing new learning or directing us to important resources. Early on and throughout, the author tells us to find out about the current markets for instruments and accessories by referring to “monthly magazines” none of which he names. In point of fact, Popular Astronomy from the SPA appears bi-monthly, and the independent Amateur Astronomy comes out quarterly. The book offers no suggestions for websites, discussion boards, chatrooms such as Facebook and Reddit, or other online social media.
Author Philip Pugh does name his favorite brand of equipment, Sky-Watcher. He cites them 16 times (as “Skywatcher”), which is as often as he cites Meade (7), Celestron (6), Takahashi (2), Astro-Physics (1) , and Tele Vue (1) combined. Other labels are similarly passed over with brief mentions.
|The Science and Art of Using Telescopes|
by Philip Pugh, Springer, 2009.
Those small errors reveal the lack of professional proofreading. That speaks to the painfully obvious fact that this book reads like a first draft. The author loves (even in parenthetical comments!) exclamation points! Pugh just wrote this off the top of his head and Springer accepted it uncritically.
As an indication that the author did not have his manuscript fact-checked by an independent reader or even check his own work, the definition of ED (extra-low dispersion glass) is wrong, and wrongly stated. He calls ED “extra dispersion” throughout the book, and in the Glossary: “An extra dispersion lens is an improvement in the achromatic objective lens theme where it uses extra dispersion flint glass to improve performance.” (page 368).
ED Extra-low dispersion
"Nikon's original ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass lenses effectively compensate for color fringing especially at high magnification." -- https://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/sportoptics/how_to/guide/fieldscopes/choosing/choosing_03.htm
"ED stands for "extra-low dispersion," which refers to the composition and optical properties of the glass used for the lenses. ED glass is specially formulated and contains rare-earth compounds that greatly reduce a visual defect called chromatic aberration." -- https://www.celestron.com/pages/ed-glass
ED glass enhances apochromatic lens design by producing extra-low dispersion of the wavelengths of light passing through it thereby giving an even better apochromatic performance. -- https://explorescientificusa.com/collections/apo-triplet
In this chart, standard glass is shown on the far left. To the right of it are two commonly used extra low dispersion (ED) glasses. -- https://www.stellarvue.com/optical-glass-types/
That example is from the section “Too Cloudy to Go Out?” (page 40-41) which is about why is it not really too cloudy to go out because telescopes can often cut through poor seeing conditions. Faint clusters, dim companion stars, and more can all be viewed under bad conditions. I get the point, but an editor would have retitled the heading.
Aversion to unequivocal assertions delivers many instances of “however.”
“Unguided exposures at long focal lengths can be troublesome on some mounts because of tracking errors. However, you will find that auto-guiding can compensate for this very well. Celestron offers a version of this mount. Moving up in quality and performance, companies such as Astro Physics, Takahasi [sic], and Software Bisque manufacture excellent mounts. However, considering the typical cost, they are not mounts for a beginner!” (page 250).
Why are such mounts not suitable for a beginner who can afford them? He never says.
It is disappointing in a book that recommends finding new interests that the author provided no pointers to the organizations that support the many sub-branches of observational astronomy and citizen science. On page 114, the author discusses occultations but only someone who knows the hobby well would know about the International Occultation Timing Association (IOTA) or the fact the the Society for Popular Astronomy has an Occultation section and that the chair of that committee will generate a spreadsheet for you of occultations predicted for your location. Similarly, for lunar, solar, and planetary viewing (Chapters 2, 3, 4), the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers (ALPO) was founded in 1947 for amateurs, and the American Astronomical Society (open to amateurs) also has its Division for Planetary Sciences. For deep sky viewing, AAVSO (the American Association of Variable Star Observers) maintains a peer-reviewed archive of data, much of it provided by amateurs.
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