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The Cambridge Star Atlas Spiral-bound – 27 Jan 2011
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'An easy to use book, clear, from an authoritative expert, not to be missed. Perhaps the ideal reference for all beginner or proficient observer in both amateur and professional capacity.' Ciel et Terre
'… ideal for both beginning astronomers and more experienced observers worldwide. … This new edition features a clearer map of the Moon's surface, showing craters and features; a second Moon map, mirror-reversed for users of telescopes with star diagonals; enhanced index charts showing the constellations more clearly; and a new data table listing starts hosting planetary systems. It is now spiral bound, making it ideal for use at the telescope.' Spaceflight
'The fourth edition of The Cambridge Star Atlas continues in the tradition of its predecessors in that the star charts are well drawn and clearly labelled. However this new edition also includes some new features not seen in previous editions. Including, a number of large scale charts showing the distribution of the Messier as well as a key to the main charts.' Astronomy Now
'The real beauty of this book is that the format for the main chart pages is so user friendly! First, the charts tend to cover fairly large sections of sky, and they tend to present ONLY targets that are what I would call 'excellent' targets. By this I mean that these charts tend to focus on the brighter targets in the sky. To me, the BEST part is that on the page across from each chart is a set of tables [that] identify the best Variables, Doubles, Open Clusters, Planetary Nebulae, Nebulae, and Galaxies that appear on the chart! It is a wonderful observing companion for just about any level of observer.' Ed Moreno, AstroMart.com
'… should prove popular with a wide readership.' The Observatory
This classic star atlas is ideal for both beginning astronomers and more experienced observers worldwide. As well as showing the stars, clusters and galaxies visible with binoculars or a small telescope, this fourth edition contains a new Moon map and enhanced charts.See all Product description
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Since I feel the cons out weigh the pros in this case I will list them first.
Cons: Although I like the way the charts are organized and the paper stock to be what I expected, I was surprised at the low quality of printing. When compared to the much smaller format Sky & Telescope Pocket Star Atlas the lower quality of the Cambridge Atlas becomes sadly apparent. Further the introductory Seasonal Sky Maps and Messier Object Charts are printed on blue backgrounds that show up as black under an observers red flashlight when using the charts in the field, thereby rendering them almost useless unless you consult them prior to your observing session.
Pros: As I mentioned above, the organization of the charts by Right Ascension and Declination is good. The Stars are plotted down to magnitude 6.5, which is more than sufficient for visual use when trying to orient yourself in the sky. The spiral-bound book opens and lays flat so you can easily lay it out on a observation table freeing both hands for flashlight, binoculars, etc. It even folds completely over reasonably well without damage to the spiral binding.
Wish list: I would have liked to see the brighter stars (mag. 2.0 or brighter) listed by their names in each chart's index along with all of the other listings, but I guess there is only so much room on a page. Lacking that, bold type for the names within the sky chart itself would have been nice. It would make it so much easier to find these important stars as they are used for the alignment of modern computerized GoTo telescopes when setting up for a pleasant observing evening under the stars.