Astronomy Hacks
Tips and Tools for Observing the Night Sky
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Released: June 2005
Pages: 412

Why use the traditional approach to study the stars when you can turn computers, handheld devices, and telescopes into out-of-this-world stargazing tools? Whether you're a first timer or an advanced hobbyist, you'll find Astronomy Hacks both useful and fun. From upgrading your optical finder to photographing stars, this book is the perfect cosmic companion.

This handy field guide covers the basics of observing, and what you need to know about tweaking, tuning, adjusting, and tricking out a 'scope. Expect priceless tips and tools for using a Dobsonian Telescope, the large-aperture telescope you can inexpensively build in your garage. Get advice on protocols involved with using electronics including in dark places without ruining the party.

Astronomy Hacks begins the space exploration by getting you set up with the right equipment for observing and admiring the stars in an urban setting. Along for the trip are first rate tips for making most of observations. The hacks show you how to:

  • Dark-Adapt Your Notebook Computer
  • Choose the Best Binocular
  • Clean Your Eyepieces and Lenses Safely
  • Upgrade Your Optical Finder
  • Photograph the Stars with Basic Equipment
The O'Reilly Hacks series has reclaimed the term "hacking" to mean innovating, unearthing, and creating shortcuts, gizmos, and gears. With these hacks, you don't dream it-you do it--and Astronomy Hacks brings space dreams to life. The book is essential for anyone who wants to get the most out of an evening under the stars and have memorable celestial adventures.
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5.0

(based on 7 reviews)

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(5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Astronomy Hacks to the Rescue!

By Dave Walz-Burkett

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Astronomy Hacks:

In this hectic world of rushing around, some of us are lucky enough to get outside and enjoy the night sky from time to time. This book will help you get the most out of your time practicing amateur astronomy. It's a collection of advice, short essays, tips and tricks that will help you get up to speed without many of the frustrations typically encountered when learning this hobby.

The authors jump right in with invaluable tips that every amateur astronomer should know. The first chapter is loaded with goodies that will help you get geared up and understand basic safety, observing site etiquette, preparation, and offers advice on choosing the right equipment.

From there, you are taken into the field with a heap of great observing hacks. Starting with the basics like how to keep your night vision, you'll learn how to describe the brightness of an object, identify stars by name and understanding the various celestial coordinate systems. Fundamentals like learning to locate objects geometrically, star hopping, and learning to see both deep & shallow space objects are also covered here.

Urban observing skills, organized logging, and how to prepare for and run a Messier Marathon are included as well. The book closes with chapters covering scope and accessory hacks like collimation, tricking out your Dobsonian, aligning and upgrading your finder scope, and help on choosing planetarium software for your computer.

The hacks vary in length from quick single-pagers up to some very thorough ten-plus page hacks. The book contains many black & white photographs that compliment the text. When you decide it's time to clean your primary mirror for example, several photos of the multi-step process help guide you through. Icons accompany each hack, indicating the relative complexity of the hack, from beginner to expert. Each hack is numbered (from 1 to 65) and cross references are shown where related hacks are mentioned.

Other reviews of this book mention the authors' bias towards Dobsonian scopes. The authors don't have blinders on; they thoroughly describe many types of telescopes (and binoculars) and the advantages and disadvantages of each type. They have spent a huge amount of time in the field and they are simply reporting their observations when they say "If you attend a large star party, you'll probably see more Dobs than all other types of scopes combined." The reason so many people buy them is simple: Dobs offer arguably the best bang for the buck. If you're a beginner, you'll do well to learn the basics of star hopping and celestial navigation without relying on the crutch of a go-to scope. Have the batteries in your GPS ever died when you were in an unfamiliar area? Good thing you know how to read a map. ;)

Astronomy Hacks is the second book I've read by the dynamic duo of Robert & Barbara Thompson. Their book Illustrated Guide to Astronomical Wonders was an excellent read and continues to be a great resource. I highly recommend both of these books.

(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

A great astronomy resource

By Chris

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Astronomy Hacks:

I've always had an interest in astronomy but have never really indulged myself. Recently my young son has become interested in the stars and wanted to purchase a telescope. So when I came across Astronomy Hacks I was especially interested. I found the book to be very helpful. We did purchase a telescope and found the author's advice quite useful.

The book's contents are simple enough to help satisfy my son's budding interest and at the same time it is advanced enough to keep me interested. It is full of useful "hacks" and will certainly be great resource for lots of folks. I purchased additional copies as gifts for nephews and nieces.

My original experience and review of the book noted above has not changed after two years. I still find it useful. It is now dog eared and battered from use.

I have also found that Thompson's other astronomy book, Illustrated Guide to Astronomical Wonders: From Novice to Master Observer, a great companion volume.

If you are a backyard astronomer, you owe yourself this book.

(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Quite a nice book for newcomers as for advanced observers

By Andre Cajolais

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Astronomy Hacks:

I'm an amateur astronomer for 20 years plus and I must say that I learned a lot from Astronomy Hacks. The Thompson are passionate and experienced observers, that's obvious and very nice writers. This book is fun to read, informative for the newcomer, and thoughtful for the more advanced observer.

Beginners will find informative tips and tricks about observing etiquette, they'll learn to recognize the constellations, how to star hop, even get tips on choosing the best star atlas for them. And of course, they'll get many useful observing tips.

The more advanced observer will find interesting hacks on how to improve the performance and accuracy of their scope, how to plan a rewarding observing session, and selecting equipment.

I particularly enjoy thoses hacks on the software you can use to help you get the most of your observing time, on selecting the best eyepieces for your equipment, observing strategies, and nice information on the famous Messier marathon.

All in all, 65 chapters packed with hacks that will be usefull to any amateur from beginning to advanced astronomer. Give it a look, you'll be surprised. A useful book and a very nice addition to you astronomy bookshelves.

 
5.0

Useful Astronomy Tips

By John Smith

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Astronomy Hacks:

This is a good book to read if you are starting out in astronomy and are beginning to purchase your equipment. It will lead you down the correct path to make wise decisions, just keep in mind that there is many other brand name equipment to choose from other than what is stated in the book. They do mention this after giving a brand name preference, do your homework. The tips are vary helpful and are almost required when purchasing an Asian dob. I like how the book explains how to avoid inferior equipment and give a wiser choice. This book will enhance the novice's enjoyment of amateur astronomy.

 
5.0

Highly Recommended

By Mike

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Astronomy Hacks:

This book covers a wide range of subjects related to Astronomy. It is well written and thought out. It is a must have for any newbie and even experienced astronomers will benefit from it too. I was one of those people who spent a lot of money on a telescope and after a few uses let it sit for over a year in a corner collecting dust out of discouragement from not seeing the spectacular DSO's found on most web sites. This book explains what you can expect to see along with techniques to see them. It has helped me locate objects I have never been able to find before and given me information on care of my telescope. It has given me the comfort and confidence to do maintenance on my telescope I was too afraid to do out of my own lack of knowledge. It has re-sparked my interest in the hobby and I found I am using my 8" DOB more and more.

 
5.0

simply refreshing

By astrola

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Astronomy Hacks:

I really liked that book, maybe cause I'm a dob user and the book it is (mainly) towered to our side of the sky.

Some books are boring, verbose and politically correct but not this one! Strong opinions, love it or hate it!

The photo of R.B.Thompson smoking the pipe while preserving the night vision is a must.

Congrats from Italy

 
5.0

A really good resource

By RPH

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Astronomy Hacks:

In a word, wow. I like to actually read all of a book before making comments, and there is a lot of content in this book, so it took me a while to get all the way through it. As someone with a very minimal background and marginal interest in astronomy, I would feel very comfortable using this as my primary guide if I was going to start observing at most any level; I had no trouble following the text, even the technical information and tables looked like I would be able to understand and use them if I had the need to do so. Well written. This strikes me as an essential resource for any neophyte, one that includes useful information for experienced folks as well.

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