Reviews - What do customers think about Double Stars for Small Telescopes: More Than 2,100 Stellar Gems for Backyard Observers (Stargazing Series)?
Nice object catalog, but a poor observer's guide. Aug 26, 2008
When it comes to double stars, Sissy Haas is not only an experienced observer, she is a very enthusiastic observer as well. The double star articles Haas has authored for Sky and Telescope magazine over the past decade are among the best observing articles the magazine has published. Her excitement for double stars shines through in every paragraph.
Being such a big fan of Haas' writing, I even went to library, photocopied her articles from back issues, and made my own double star "observer's guide" (this was before Sky and Telescope made their archive of back issues downloadable online). So it goes without saying I had high expectations for this book.
I was hoping Double Stars for Small Telescopes would be an observers guide filled with more writing like her Sky and Telescope articles. However, I didn't find anything like this in her book. Instead, Double Stars for Small Telescopes is basically an Excel spreadsheet dump containing data for around 2100 double stars, grouped by constellation.
Besides the normal catalog information you'd expect, Haas provides very brief observing notes in a "spreadsheet cell" for each object. Haas has included her observations, as well as those of other skilled double star observers to compile the list. What you get here is the combined wisdom of a group of skilled observers, listing their picks for best targets of the best. You can use it to form the backbone of a double-star observing program that will last for quite some time.
But still, the book is essentially just a list. A nicely prepared and formatted list, but a list nonetheless. The editors at Sky and Telescope could have taken Haas's past magazine articles and edited them into the book, like they did for Sue French's Celestial Sampler. But they inexplicably missed this opportunity, and that leaves me disappointed by the book overall.
Please don't misunderstand me - I still think this book is worth owning, and I definitely recommend it. But since this book is primarily catalog data, I actually would have preferred to get it as a digital download to import into my astronomy software.
I personally feel Double Stars for Small Telescopes is fine for what it is, but it could have been a lot more. I encourage Sissy Haas to write another book: a true observer's guide to accompany this catalog.
Good overall, but some serious flaws Nov 15, 2007
While the listing is overall a good culling of double stars from longer lists (i.e. the WDS catalog), and the comments are helpful and descriptive, there are three notable flaws not already mentioned by other reviewers. 1) The coordinates are given with no indication of the epoch. Presumably, they are 2000.0 coordinates, but that is nowhere explicitly indicated. 2) Coordinates are only listed to the nearest tenth of a minute in RA and minute of arc in dec. That's enough to make you wonder what's what in a crowded field. 3) In this era of GOTO telescopes, it's too bad the author chose to list the stars from the WDS catalog using discoverer codes (reminiscent of the now badly-outdated "Burnham's Celestial Handbooks") incommensurate with the way these stars are cataloged in common telescope pointing programs like Software Bisque's "The Sky." It's far more cumbersome to have to enter coordinates than to type a simple code like "WDS STT 34." For example, Haas uses the code "CorO" as an abbreviation for "Cordoba Observatory," whereas the WDS code (also used by The Sky) is "COO." (A web search on "CorO double star" yielded far fewer relevant hits than a search for "COO double star," which indicates to me that the latter is a more common usage.)
Poor choice Oct 17, 2007
This is a poor choice for Double Star observers. Basically, it's one big spreadsheet of double star, with comments provided mostly by other observers than the author.
Better to get the tabular data online for free.
Selección de dobles Jun 16, 2007
La parte principal del libro sin duda es la selección de estrellas dobles del WDS, con los datos en tablas. Están agrupadas por constelación y ordenadas por ascensión recta. Incluye las constelaciones de ambos hemisferios, tanto Norte como Sur. Al comienzo del libro aparece una rápida introducción al mundo de las estrellas dobles y su observación, así como unos mapas básicos de búsqueda de un par de sistemas (el libro no incluye cartas de búsqueda, unicamente los datos de cada estrella)
Entre los datos elegantemente tabulados están las coordendas del sistema, la designación, año de la última medición (incluye mediciones recientes), ángulo de posición, separación, magnitudes, espectro, estatus (doble física u óptica, si es conocido) y una columna especialmente interesante para los observadores visuales: comentarios observacionales sobre cada doble (que incluyen la apertura del instrumento y los aumentos utilizados)
Los datos están bien presentados y son buenos. Tienen algunos errores o desactualizaciones que arrastra desde el WDS, como no tener los datos de las magntudes fotométricas más recientes, o para un sistema de más de dos componentes (AB y AC por ejemplo), en ciertas ocasiones, tener una magnitud dada para la estrella A cuando se muestra los datos de AB e inmediatamente debajo, al mostrar los datos AC, la estrella A aparece con otra magnitud difrente a la de la fila superior, AB. Hay varios ejemplos así.
En definitiva, es un buen libro, recomendable para los que gustan de observar estrellas dobles o los que deseen incluir algunas al planear sus noches de observación. La selección es buena y la cantidad es suficiente para estar entretenido un buen tiempo.
Double Stars for Small Telescopes Nov 7, 2006
This clearly written book covers the basic information needed to understand the attraction double and multiple stars has to the amateur astronomer and most importantly, how to find them. Reading the introduction, you realize that the author has an excellent understanding of her subject matter that communicates well to the reader. This shows in her ability to explain and keep my attention (no easy task). Her explanations and examples kept my interest and made me want to start observing immediately. The charts and graphs included illustrate very well the technical aspects of observing with detailed descriptions of the many subtle colors of the stars as they appear to the eye through the telescope. The explanations illustrate how stars are measured by magnitude, color, temperature and separation. A handy chart is printed on how far apart the stars will be separated in various scopes by their aperture. Four constellations are illustrated labeling the binary stars by season to help you get started right away. An easy to understand legend in front of the first catalog page helps to locate your target and where to look. The catalog is organized by constellations. With each star you are given the right, assent ion, declination, name, year, position angle, separation, magnitude, spectral type, status and observers comments. Most comments, made by contributing astronomers, include the aperture and power of the telescope used. If you have setting circles on your scope or better yet, a "go to" scope, it makes finding the stars are a snap. Otherwise you need a good atlas and plenty of patience.
Sissy Hass gives us one more pleasure for the use of our scopes in observing the unlimited joys and beauty of our universe. This is a reference book I will keep close by for one of those leisurely nights where I am not rushed to find some other object before it moves out of sight. Where every night is Christmas with the multi-colored lights of a Yule-tide tree.
Book reviewed by Jack Fox, Richmond Astronomical Society