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Deep-Sky Wonders (Stargazing) [Paperback]

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Item description for Deep-Sky Wonders (Stargazing) by Walter Scott Houston & Stephen James O'Meara...

From 1946 to 1994, Sky & Telescope magazine featured a column called Deep-Sky Wonders, in which amateur astronomer Water Scott 'Scotty' Houston captured the wonder and delight of exploring the farthest reaches of the deep sky. Sky & Telescope contributing editior Stephen James O'Meara presents a month-by-month selection of Scotty's columns along with insightful observations and warm recollections of his time with Scotty. More than a field guide, Deep Sky Wonders is the work of a man who was a major influence on the development of amateur astronomy for nearly half a century. 6 by 9 inches

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Item Specifications...

Pages   309
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.7" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   1.35 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 4, 2005
Publisher   Sky Publishing Corporation
ISBN  1931559236  
ISBN13  9781931559232  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Outdoors & Nature > Reference
2Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Professional Science > Astronomy > Astronomy
3Books > Subjects > Science > Astronomy > Astronomy
4Books > Subjects > Science > Astronomy > Star Gazing

Reviews - What do customers think about Deep-Sky Wonders (Stargazing)?

A superlative classic.  Mar 20, 2007
I became familiar with Walter Scott Houston's column as a young teenager, and followed it until his death. This as a great compilation of many of his classic and timeless columns, carefully edited by Steve O'Meara.

Not a "guidebook" in the strictest sense, but a "suggestion book." It is one of my favorites. Highly recommended.
A tribute to a great visual astronomer  Jan 31, 2005
I must confess that I have been reading Walter "Scotty" Houston's Deep Sky Wonder's column in the Sky and Telescope magazine ever since I started on this amazing ride that is amateur astronomy in the mid 80's. His columns used to inspire me to observe from my light polluted backyard with my small beginner's telescope all those years ago. So when I saw that they were going to publish a "compilation" of his works, I knew I would have to get the book. And get the book I did. It was a no brainer really as I knew his witty writing style from his columns. An excellent cloudy night read and a tribute to a great visual astronomer!!!!! Your words of wisdom will live on Scotty...
Timeless!  Jan 27, 2005
Walter Scott Houston was a dedicated amateur astronomer whose monthly column, "Deep-Sky Wonders" appeared in Sky & Telescope magazine for almost 48 years, from 1946 to 1994. Though he passed away in 1993, his writings live on to educate and inspire both new and old generations of stargazers. Noted amateur astronomer and author Stephen James O'Meara compiled Scotty's monthly columns and edited them into book form, Deep-Sky Wonders (1999, Sky Publishing Corp.).

There is a chapter for every month of the year, with Scotty's engaging descriptions of the objects and how to find them. Many are challenging, with a brightness of 10-11 magnitude or less. Each chapter begins with O'Meara's personal comments and ends with a table of that month's objects, in ascending order by M- and NGC- number, showing the type of object, its RA and Dec, and page and chart numbers in the Millennium Star Atlas, Uranometria 2000.0 and Sky Atlas 2000.0.

Scotty blazed trails in amateur astronomy, never content with the status quo. This book illustrates his spirit for seeking out elusive objects and his love for the wonders of the heavens. He often asked readers of his column to submit their comments and observations. Many of those observations are recounted in this book. Scotty was a master, with vast knowledge of the realm of space, but was ever down-to-earth in his discussions with his readers. In the pages of this book you will find friendly, familiar Messier objects and exotic, hard-to-find challenge objects, all skillfully described in Scotty's own words, with anecdotes on how he came to see them.

O'Meara's preface to the book explains his relationship with Scotty on the S&T staff and as editor of Scotty's column in the 1990s. O'Meara idolized Walter Scott Houston, and attempts in his own books to emulate the nearly-poetic writing Scotty was famous for. Two other well-known astronomy figures, Brian Skiff and Dennis DiCicco added their comments in forewords to the book.

But Scotty's own colorful words make up the bulk of Deep-Sky Wonders. Here is a long passage from the first page of chapter one, "January":

"I learned my constellations in Tippecanoe, Wisconsin, a town that long ago vanished into the urban sprawl of Milwaukee. Back then Tippecanoe was a rather treeless tract of farmland bounded by the great clay bluffs of western Lake Michigan. The sky ran right down to the horizon and, with an almost irresistible force, called for you to look at it. In January 1926, after a midnight walk home from ice-skating, I wrote:

`Snow crystals sparkle like blue diamonds, but with a dreamy gentle radiance totally unlike the harsh gem. A rail fence as black as Pluto himself runs along the road. The forest is black in the distance. The landscape is a masterpiece in ultramarine and sable.

`As if in contrast, the heavens above blaze with a thousand tints. Incredible Orion leads the hosts with blue Rigel, ruby Betelgeuse, and bright Bellatrix. His silver belt and sword flash like burnished stellar steel. And more advanced is dark and somber Aldebaran, so heavy and gloomy. In fitting contrast are the delicate Pleiades, who sparkle "like a swarm of fireflies tangled in a silver braid".

`How can a person ever forget the scene, the glory of a thousand stars in a thousand hues, the radiant heavens and the peaceful Earth? There is nothing else like it. It may well be beauty in its purest form.' "*

*(Scotty referred to a stanza in the poem Locksley Hall by Alfred Lord Tennyson.)

Get the book, Deep-Sky Wonders, and get to know Walter Scott Houston. Let him inspire you with his timeless message to get out under the stars. Enjoy reading the book on cloudy nights, and use its lists on clear ones.
A superlative addition to the amateur astronomer's library  Jan 13, 2002
Deep Sky Wonders is a collection of issues spanning several decades of the late Walter Scott Houston's monthly column in Sky and Telescope magazine. The noted astronomer and author Stephen James O'Meara organized Houston's writings by subject matter and further by month of optimal viewing for better readability. O'Meara also only edited the text for consistency in a couple places, so it remains Houston's work. I think he did an excellent job in the compilation. A section on any given constellation or deep sky object may contain excerpts from many of Houston's articles, yet O'Meara managed to make the transitions seamless and got the flow right.

I read this book over about a month and it was a most enjoyable experience. Houston's writing is superb, which is not surprising considering he held degrees in English. Also, his love and enthusiasm for amateur astronomy comes through better than in any work I've read so far barring perhaps Burnham's wonderful Celestial Handbook. Houston knows the sky and was an active observer right up to his death in 1993.

Both beginning and veteran observers will enjoy using this work to plan observing sessions, to check what interesting or challenging objects are up during a session, or to read in a comfortable setting on a night of no observing. I plan to take this book with me on every observing session. Highly recommended!

A "must have" for any amateur astronomer!  Apr 18, 2000
Walter Scott "Scotty" Houston is a name many astronomers know well. Author of the Sky & Telescope Deep Sky Wonders column from 1946 until his death in December of 1993. He was a passionate amateur astronomer to the end of his long life. Houston's last column appeared in Sky & Telescope in July 1994 issue, and since that time, amateurs have had to scour back issues to excavate Houston's gold mine of observational knowledge. Enter Stephen James O'Meara. O'Meara has been on the staff of Sky & Telescope magazine since the late 70's, and was editor of Houston's column from 1990 until his death. O'Meara began the compilation by working with photocopies of the nearly 550 individual columns spanning Houston's career. He sorted, organized, and collated each of the works and produced a chapter for each month of the year, into which he inserted Houston's colorful prose, descriptive history, and observational commentary. O'Meara begins each section with some light annotation, but most of the words in this book are Houston's, and as a collection, they jell beautifully into a seasonal observer's guide that challenge Burnham's for the sheer elegance and depth of feeling that emanates from the pages. Upon receiving the book, I quickly turned my attention to a few of my favorite deep sky objects and marveled at the timelessness of Houston's descriptive prose. Before I knew it I had been reading for over an hour and could have spent several more lost in the beauty of Houston's finely knit web of description, quotes from other authorities, and the words of his readers. An example from his description of NGC2403, a little known but beautiful galaxy in Camelopardis:

"My 4-inch Clark refractor shows it as a lovely gem. I logged it as an "ocean of turbulence and detail" as seen with a 10-inch reflector under dark Kansas skies in the 1950's. In 1992 I saw it with a 20-inch telescope from the Florida Keys - a view that transformed it into a hurricane of cosmic chaos." (pp 28-29)

O'Meara's compilation of Houston's works has quickly taken its place as one of my favorite cloudy night books. It is also a valuable resource for planning observing sessions. It's organization by month lends itself well to selecting some prime targets for easy observing, with a generous does of difficult challenges for the more adventurous. This book is destined to be an instant classic.


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