Synopses & Reviews
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.
About the Author
Robert Bruce Thompson is a coauthor of O'Reilly's Building the Perfect PC and PC Hardware in a Nutshell. A born geek, he built his first computer in 1976 with 256 bytes of memory, toggle switches, and no operating system. Since then, he has bought, built, upgraded, and repaired hundreds of PCs for himself, employers, customers, friends, and clients. Robert spends most clear, moonless nights outdoors with his 10-inch Dobsonian reflector telescope, hunting down faint fuzzies, and is currently designing a larger truss-tube Dobsonian (computerized, of course) that he plans to build.
Barbara Fritchman Thompson, the coauthor of Building the Perfect PC and PC Hardware in a Nutshell, worked for 20 years as a librarian before starting her own home-based consulting practice, Research Solutions. She's also a researcher for the law firm Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge, & Rice, PLLC. During her leisure hours, Barbara reads, works out, plays golf, and, like Robert, is an avid amateur astronomer.
Table of Contents
Copyright; Credits; About the Authors; Contributors; Acknowledgments; Preface; Why Astronomy Hacks?; How This Book Is Organized; How to Contact Us; Got a Hack?; Chapter 1: Getting Started; 1.1 Hacks 1-10; 1.2 Don't Give Up; 1.3 Join an Astronomy Club; 1.4 Safety First; 1.5 Stay Warm; 1.6 Don't Violate Observing Site Etiquette; 1.7 Be Prepared; 1.8 Measure Your Entrance Pupil Size; 1.9 Choose the Best Binocular; 1.10 Choose the Best General-Purpose Telescope; 1.11 Equip Yourself for Urban Observing; Chapter 2: Observing Hacks; 2.1 Hacks 11-32; 2.2 See in the Dark; 2.3 Protect Your Night Vision from Local Lights; 2.4 Describe the Brightness of an Object; 2.5 Identify Stars by Name; 2.6 Identify Stars by Catalog Designations; 2.7 Know Your Constellations; 2.8 Understand Celestial Coordinate Systems; 2.9 Print Custom Charts; 2.10 Keep Your Charts at the Eyepiece; 2.11 Locate Objects Geometrically; 2.12 Learn to Star Hop; 2.13 Learn to See DSOs; 2.14 Observe Shallow-Space Objects; 2.15 Slow Down, You Move Too Fast, You've Got to Make the Evening Last; 2.16 Learn Urban Observing Skills; 2.17 Sweep Constellations; 2.18 Maintain an Observing Notebook; 2.19 Develop an Organized Logging System; 2.20 Plan and Prepare for a Messier Marathon; 2.21 Run a Messier Marathon; 2.22 Photograph the Stars with Basic Equipment; 2.23 Discover and Name a New Planet; Chapter 3: Scope Hacks; 3.1 Hacks 33-43; 3.2 Center-Spot Your Mirror; 3.3 Clean Your Primary Mirror; 3.4 Eliminate Astigmatism; 3.5 Eliminate Diffraction Spikes and Increase Contrast; 3.6 Build a Film Can Collimating Tool; 3.7 Tune Your Newtonian Reflector for Maximum Performance; 3.8 Collimate Your Primary Mirror Quickly and Accurately; 3.9 Star-Collimate Your Scope; 3.10 Counterweight a Dobsonian Scope; 3.11 Improve Dobsonian Motions with Milk Jug Washers; 3.12 Upgrade Your Dobsonian Bearings; Chapter 4: Accessory Hacks; 4.1 Hacks 44-65; 4.2 Dark Adapt Your Notebook Computer; 4.3 Dark Adapt Your Vehicle; 4.4 Use a Barlow; 4.5 Determine Actual Barlow Magnification; 4.6 See More of the Sky; 4.7 Optimize Your Eyepiece Collection; 4.8 Chart Your Eyepiece Characteristics; 4.9 View Dim Objects in the Same Field as a Very Bright Object; 4.10 Clean Your Eyepieces and Lenses Safely; 4.11 Install a Unit-Power Finder; 4.12 Upgrade Your Optical Finder; 4.13 Align Your Finder; 4.14 Determine Your Optical Finder's Field of View; 4.15 Determine Your True Field of View; 4.16 Enhance Lunar and Planetary Contrast and Detail; 4.17 Enhance Nebular Contrast and Detail; 4.18 Please Be Seated; 4.19 Stash Your Gear in a Photographer's Vest or Fanny Pack; 4.20 Use a Voice Recorder for Logging; 4.21 Build or Buy an Equatorial Platform; 4.22 Make Your Computer Work for You; 4.23 Astronomy Software in the Palm of Your Hand; Colophon;