Books

 

Updated 2017 January 17

 

Contents

 

Every purchase made via the Journal of the British Astronomical Association’s Book Reviews webpage makes a small contribution to the Association’s funds.

 

Details correct at the time of entry. Entries are in alphabetical order but missing out any leading on, the, a, etc.

 

COMETS (Mostly)

 

Asteroids, Comets and Meteorites: Cosmic Invaders of Earth by Jon Erickson, published by Checkmark Books ($55, cloth; $19.95, plain paper)

‘Blending history, planetary evolution and recent scientific developments of natural debris that could potentially collide with Earth…..the text’s wealth of information makes it a thorough reference’ Sky and Telescope, September, 2003.

 

Atlas of Great Comets by Ronald Stoyan and translated from German by Storm Dunlop, published by Cambridge University Press (£35 hardback)

This large and lavishly illustrated atlas depicts 30 cometary spectacles from 1471 to 2007. Reviewed by Martin Mobberley in the Journal of the British

Astronomical Association, 2015 April

 

Atlas of Meteorites by Monica Grady, Giovanni Pratesi and Vanni Moggi Cecci, published by Cambridge University Press (£95 hardback)

‘The meat of this Atlas comprises illustrations of  such standard (polished thin) sections, with associated text, running through the petrological sequence of meteorites’. Reviewed by Jonathan Shanklin in the Journal of the British Astronomical Association, 2015 June

 

Beyond Pluto by J Davies, published by Cambridge (£17.95)

An excellent book. It describes how the existence of  asteroids/comets beyond the main belt was outlined in theory and then discoveries made to validate those theories. Reviewed by R Miles in The Journal of The British Astronomical Association, October 2001.

 

Cometary science after Hale-Bopp, Vols. I & II  by H. Boehnhardt et al. (ed.), published by Kluwer Academic Publishers. (£119.00 each)

A collection of papers presented at an international conference held in Tenerife in January 2002 covering; physical properties of and chemical processes in comet nuclei, orbital dynamics, spacecraft studies, light curves, comet splitting and items of interest to CCD imagers. Reviewed by J. Shanklin in the Journal of the British Astronomical Association, February 2004.

 

Comet of the Century – from Halley to Hale-Bopp by F Schaff, published by Springer-Verlag. (£19.95)

‘There is a large crop of comet books this year; this is probably the best of them and will be a useful resource long after Hale-Bopp has gone’; J Shanklin, Journal of The British Astronomical Association, June 1997.

 

Cometography, A Catalogue of Comets Volume 1: Ancient-1799 by G W Kronk, published by Cambridge (£90.00)

‘It is the first of a series of four (now six – see Vol 3 below) which will provide complete descriptions of every comet that has ever been seen and recorded’;  J Shanklin, Journal of the British Astronomical Association, February 2000.

 

Cometography, A Catalogue of Comets Volume 2: 1800-1899 by Gary W. Kronk, published by Cambridge University Press (£120.00)

See ‘Cometography’ above. Reviewed by G M Hurst in the Journal of the British Astronomical Association, August 2004.

 

Cometography, A Catalogue of Comets Volume 3: 1900-1932 by G W Kronk, published by Cambridge University Press (£150.00)

Cometography is a series of books for comet enthusiasts. Volume 3 runs to 650 pages and there are still three more volumes to come as the series has been lengthened to keep the volumes down to manageable size. This volume contains all the descriptions you could ever want of the comets of the first decades of the twentieth century’.  Jonathan Shanklin, Journal of the British Astronomical Association, 2008 April.

 

Cometography, A Catalogue of Comets Volume 4: 1933-1959 by G W Kronk, published by Cambridge University Press (£172.90)

The fourth volume in the series.

 

Cometography, A Catalogue of Comets Volume 5: 1960-1982 by G W Kronk, published by Cambridge University Press (£130.00)

The fifth volume in the series. Reviewed by Jonathan Shanklin in the Journal of the British Astronomical Association, 2011 February.

 

Comets II, by M C Festou, H U Keller and H A Weaver, published by University of Arizona Press ($85)

Includes sections on; origins, orbits, the nucleus and dust. Primarily a reference book for planetary scientists. Reviewed in 'Sky and Telescope', April 2006. Reviewed by Jonathan Shanklin in the Journal of the British Astronomical Association, June 2006.

 

Comets and How to Observe Them by Richard Schmude, published by Springer (£31.99)

This book gives a summary of current knowledge and describes how amateur astronomers can contribute to the body of scientific knowledge about comets. Contains practical examples of how to construct comet lightcurves, measure how fast a comet’s coma expands and determine the rotation period of the nucleus.

 

Comets and Meteors, the Decisive Centuries, in British Art and Science by R J M Olson and J M Pasachoff, published by CambridgeUniversity Press

 ‘…the book showcases a breathtaking selection of paintings…a remarkable work of great value…’; J Baum, Journal of The British Astronomical Association, June 1998.

 

Comets and the Origin and Evolution of Life by P J Thomas, C F Chyba and C P McKay, published by Springer-Verlag (£23.00)

‘…provides a superb introduction to this wide ranging field….suitable for a wide readership’; M E Bailey, Journal of The British Astronomical Association, August 1997.

 

the comet man (a memoir) by Alan Hale

An autobiography of Earthrise Institute President Alan Hale, and a discussion of his lifetime of observing comets and other astronomical phenomena, issued on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the discovery of Comet Hale-Bopp. The reader will be treated to a discussion of the brighter and more important comets that have appeared in our skies over the past 45 years, and will learn about the man who co-discovered the most viewed comet in human history, including the events that led up to that discovery and the events that happened in his life afterwards as a result. To purchase visit http://www.earthriseinstitute.org/thecometman.html

 

Comets, Popular Culture and the Birth of Modern Cosmology by S Schnechner Genuth, published by Princeton University Press  ($49.50)

‘…the history of popular ideas about comets from the earliest historical times through to the early nineteenth century…a fascinating read. Easily accessible to the general reader’; W M Napier, Journal of the British Astronomical Association, August 1998. 

 

Comet Science by J Crovisier and T Encrenaz, published by Cambridge University Press (£14.95)

A comprehensive overview of our current knowledge of comets. Includes a chapter on the relationship between comets, asteroids and meteors. Reviewed by G Hurst in The Journal of the British Astronomical Association, October 2000.

 

Comets! – visitors from deep space by David J. Eicher, published by Cambridge University Press (£17.99 paperback)

Give this one a miss. Reviewed by Roger Dymock in the Journal of the British Astronomical Association, 2014 February.

 

David Levy’s Guide to Observing and Discovering Comets by David H. Levy, published by Cambridge University Press (Hb $48, Pb $17)

Describes visual and CCD observing techniques and the history of comet hunting.

 

Eclipses, Transits and Comets of the Nineteenth Century: How America’s Percetions of the Skies changed by Stella Cottam and Wayne Orchiston, published by Springer (£90 hardback)

In a Ph.D. thesis completed through James Cook University in Australia, Stella Cottam described the nineteenth century public interest in America in major astronomical events, and she has now teamed with her former supervisor, Wayne Orchiston—who added additional material—to produce an interesting new book. Review can be found at http://www.narit.or.th/en/files/2015JAHHvol18/2015JAHH...18..112O.pdf

 

On the determination of the orbits of comets, according to the methods of Father Boscovitch and Mr. de las Place. With new and complete tables; and…by both methods by Sir Harry Englefield, published by Gale ECCO (£18.99)

This book was originally published prior to 1923 and represents a reproduction of an important historical work, maintaining the same format as the original work.

 

A discourse on comets. Containing a brief description of the true system of the world. Extracted from the writings of Sir Isaac Newton, and other astronomers by John Lodge Cowley, published by Gale ECCO (£12.01)

This book was originally published prior to 1923 and represents a reproduction of an important historical work, maintaining the same format as the original work.

 

Great Comets by R Burnham, published by Cambridge (£14.95)

‘Essentially this is an attractively produced, highly readable and inexpensive guide to comets but with a strong bias towards Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp’; J Shanklin, Journal of The British Astronomical Association, June 2000.

 

The Great Comet Crash: The Collision of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 and Jupiter by J R Spencer and J Mitton, published by Cambridge University Press (£16.95)

‘What is equally pleasing is that the book has generally got things right….a worthy record of a very momentous event’;

I P Williams, Journal of The British Astronomical Association, December 1995.

 

Hazards due to Comets and Asteroids by T Gehrels, published by University of Arizona Press, ($75.00)

 ‘ …the essential one-stop reference for everything you need to know about the threat from space debris’; S Mitton, Journal of  The British Astronomical Association, August 1995.

 

Hunting and Imaging Comets by Martin Mobberley, published by Springer (£24.89)

This book describes in detail how amateur astronomers can find comets and capture images of them using modern telescopes, CCDs and DSLRs. It also explains how computer software can be used to measure the positions and magnitudes of comets to a professional standard and how to submit those scientific results to the astronomical community.

 

Introduction to Comets by John C. Brandt and Robert D. Chapman, published by Cambridge University Press (£75.00 hbk, £35.00 pbk)

Describes the science of comets, suitable for graduate and advanced undergraduate students of astronomy and planetary science. ‘…if you want to get a basic understanding of the science behind these enigmatic objects you should get yourself a copy. I don’t think there are any better books available for the general reader’; Nick James, Journal of the British Astronomical Association, February 2005.

 

Mitigation of Hazardous Comets and Asteroids by M Belton, T H Morgan, N Samarasinha and D K Yeomans, published by Cambridge University Press (£75.00)

This book collects the latest thoughts and ideas of scientists concerned with mitigating the threat of hazardous asteroids and comets.

 

Near-Earth Objects: Finding them before they find us by Donald K. Yeomans, published by Princeton University Press (£16.95 hardback)

This book encapsulates most of the remarkable advances in our understanding of the nature of these objects. Reviewed by Richard Miles in the Journal of The British Astronomical Association, 2013 February

 

Observation of Comets from 611 BC to AD 1640 (extracted from Chinese annals) by John Williams

Fills in a large gap between the more modern European observations from 1500 onwards and the disjointed prehistoric observations of Halley’s comet and others. Available as a free ebook from https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Observations_of_Comets.html?id=o0K4AAAAIAAJ&redir_esc=y

 

Observing Comets by N James and G North, published by Springer-Verlag (£26.00)

Intended for those who wish to improve their comet observation skills. Covers; history, nomenclature, physical characteristics, instruments, observing techniques, magnitude estimation, imaging, use of computers, astrometry and photometry. CD ROM included. Reviewed in the Journal of the British Astronomical Association, August 2003 and in Sky and Telescope, September 2003.

 

Observing Meteors, Comets, Supernovae and other transient phenomena by N Bone, published by Springer-Verlag (£19.00)

‘...the BAA’s Meteor Section Director gives a simple account of transient phenomena that amateurs can observe’; J Rogers,  Journal of The British Astronomical Association, June 1999.

 

The Quest for Comets by D H Levy, published by Plenum Press, ($28.74)

‘…a very personal view of the history and attraction of comet discovery’; J Lancashire, Journal of The British Astronomical Association, April 1995.

 

A popular lecture on the astronomy and philosophy of comets. In which the opinions of the ancients, and the discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton, relative…introduced and explained by Samuel Dunn, published by Gale ECCO (£12.01).

This book was originally published prior to 1923 and represents a reproduction of an important historical work, maintaining the same format as the original work.

 

Rogue Asteroids and Doomsday Comets by D Steel, published by Wiley ($24.95)

An account of the threat posed to life on Earth by asteroids and comets. Duncan Steel is one of the worlds leading experts in this area and his book is well worth a read. Reviewed by J Shanklin in the Journal of The British Astronomical Association, February 1996.

 

Sungrazing Comets by David A. J. Seargent, ebook available from Amazon ($5.09)

Since 1680, astronomers have been amazed by comets that almost hit the Sun; yet often survive. This is the first book to concentrate on these amazing wonders of Nature. It looks at the historic objects that have been identified with the major group of such comets and also considers a number that may or may not have been true sungrazers. It examines the latest hypothesis as to why these objects exist and, lastly, looks at the prospects for spectacular new sungrazers arriving in the near and more distant future.

 

A synopsis of the astronomy of comets by Edmund Halley, published by Gale ECCO (£12.01)

This book was originally published prior to 1923 and represents a reproduction of an important historical work, maintaining the same format as the original work.

 

Target Earth by Duncan Steel, published by Time-Life (£14.99)

A Sequel to Rogue Asteroids and Doomsday Comets ‘a well-written and authoritative work which successfully explains every facet of the subject’; R Miles, Journal of the British Astronomical Association, April 2001.

 

RELATED TOPICS

 

Clyde Tombaugh, Discoverer of Planet Pluto by David H. Levy, published by Sky and Telescope (£8.42)

Describes the life of one of the American astronomer who discovered the planet (now dwarf planet) Pluto.

 

Encyclopedia of the Solar System, Second Edition by Lucy-Ann McFadden, Paul R Weissman and Torrence V Johnson, published by Academic Press (£55.09 from Amazon

The second edition of this book was published in 2007 and I obtained it as a birthday present from my wife (she still owes me the 9p !). It contains chapters on the Solar System in general, each planet, asteroids, comets and meteors and extra solar planets. So far I have only read the first two chapters concerning the Solar System and it is not as ‘heavy’ as the size of the book might indicate. If the rest of the book explains complicated matters such as resonances as well as is done in the first couple of chapters it will be very well worth the money.

 

Exodus to Arthur – Catastrophic Encounters with Comets by M Baillie, published by Batsford (£19.99)

Professor Mike Baillie argues that the Earth has undergone several catastrophic encounters with comets, or their debris, over the last thousand years. This scenario is based on the scientific analysis of ancient tree-ring patterns. (‘Catastrophe’ by D Keys, published by Arrow argues the case for volcanism as the cause of ancient catastrophes).

 

Observing the Solar System by Gerald North, published by Cambridge University Press (£30 hardback)

This book describes how to observe the many different types of objects which make up the Solar System. Reviewed by John Chuter in the Journal of the British Astronomical Association, 2013 April.

 

Orbital Motion by A E Roy, published by the Institute of Physics

A comprehensive textbook encompassing the analytical methods of classical celestial mechanics. Described by A Hollis in his review of Solar System Dynamics as ‘The standard work on planetary dynamics for many years’.

 

The Solar System beyond Neptune by M. Antonietta and others, published by University of Arizona Press (£48.93)

An in-depth description of the icy bodies inhabiting the outer reaches of the Solar System. Reviewed by Richard Miles in the Journal of the British Astronomical Association, 2009 February.

 

Solar System Dynamics by C D Murray and S F Dermott, published by Cambridge University Press (£60.00 hbk, £24.95 pbk)

‘This book will be of interest to the advanced amateur as well as the academic interested in orbital evolution’; A Hollis, Journal of The British Astronomical Association, October 2000.

 

Theory of orbit determination by G Gronchi and Andrea Milani, published by Cambridge University Press (£38.24)

This book presents new algorithms capable of handling the millions of bodies which could be observed by next generation surveys, and which can fully exploit tracking data with state-of-the-art levels of accuracy. After a general mathematical background and summary of classical algorithms, the new algorithms are introduced using the latest mathematical tools and results, to which the authors have personally contributed. Case studies based on actual astronomical surveys and space missions are provided, with applications of these new methods. Intended for graduate students and researchers in applied mathematics, physics, astronomy and aerospace engineering, this book is also of interest to non-professional astronomers.

TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES

 

Remote Observatories for Amateur Astronomers by G.R.Hubbell, R.J.Williams and L.M.Ballard, published by Springer (£15.73 - £22.99)

Amateur astronomers who want to enhance their capabilities to contribute to science need look no further than this guide to using remote observatories. The contributors cover how to build your own remote observatory as well as the existing infrastructure of commercial networks of remote observatories that are available to the amateur. They provide specific advice on which programs to use based on your project objectives and offer practical project suggestions. Remotely controlled observatories have many advantages – the most obvious that the observer does not have to be physically present to carry out observations. Such an observatory can also be used more fully because its time can be scheduled and usefully shared among several astronomers working on different observing projects. More and more professional-level observatories are open to use by amateurs in this way via the internet and more advanced amateur astronomers can even build their own remote observatories for sharing among members of a society or interest group.

 

The Art and Science of CCD Astronomy by D Ratledge, published by Springer (£19.95)

Includes contributions by twelve leading amateurs from around the world, people who are routinely producing astronomical images rivalling those of professional astronomers of merely a decade ago. ‘…a useful contribution to the field of amateur CCD astronomy’; T Platt, Journal of The British Astronomical Association, June 1997.

 

Digital Astrophotography - The State of the Art by D Ratledge, published by Springer-Verlag (£22.00)

Includes chapters by many acknowledged experts. Covers simple techniques and more serious work. 'I can thoroughly recommend this book…If you are new to digital imaging it will help to get you started. If you are already an 'expert' it will inspire you to higher things…' Nick James, Journal of the British Astronomical Association, August 2006.

 

Introduction to astronomical photometry by Edwin Budding and Osman Dermircan, published by Cambridge University Press (£45.00)

‘The authors describe this book as ‘a textbook on astronomical photometry intended for university students, research starters, advanced amateurs and others with this special interest’. This is an accurate assessment of its level and audience’ David Boyd, Journal of the British Astronomical Association, October 2007

 

Introduction to Digital Astrophotography: Imaging the Universe with a Digital Camera by R Reeves, published by Willmann-Bell ($34.95)

A compendium of night sky imaging that will be useful for many years to come. Includes virtually everything there is to know about digital cameras. Reviewed in 'Sky and Telescope', March 2006.

 

Fundamentals of Astrometry by Jean Kovalevsky and Kenneth Seidelmann, published by Cambridge University Press (£65.00)

This comprehensive reference will be invaluable for graduate students and research astronomers.

 

The Handbook of Astronomical Image Processing by R Berry and J Burnell, published by Willman-Bell ($99.95)

This second edition is, to quote from the review in 'Sky and Telescope', May 2000, 'the finest book to date to covering the entire gamut of digital astrophotography'. A CD-ROM of images allows you to try out the various methods of enhancement, astrometry and photometry using the AIP4WIN software included with the book. Updates to the software are available from the Willman-Bell website.

 

Introduction to Digital Astrophotography by Robert Reeves, published by Willman-Bell ($34.95)

…virtually everything there is to know about digital cameras… Reviewed by Sean Walker in Sky and Telescope, March 2006.

 

The New CCD Astronomy by R Wodaski, published by New Astronomy Press ($49.95)

‘This book is loaded with the tricks and techniques that the best imagers use and it explains them in easy-to-understand language’; S Walker, Sky and Telescope, September 2002. Linked to a website which contains the entire book plus updates. 

 

A Practical Guide to CCD Astronomy by P Martinez and A Klotz, published by Cambridge (£16.95)

Describes how a CCD camera works and then goes on to cover image acquisition and processing. ‘This is an invaluable guide in a field with few comparable publications’; M Gavin, Journal of The British Astronomical Association, October 1998.

 

A Practical Guide to Lightcurve Photometry and Analysis by Brian D Warner, published by Bdw Publishing ($40 inc. postage and packing)

This book is for those who want to use their telescope and CCD camera to obtain and contribute data to the study of asteroids and variable stars. It takes you through the essentials of generating and analysing lightcurves. Reviewed by R. Miles in the Journal of the British Astronomical Association, February 2004 and in Sky and Telescope, January 2004.

 

Setting up a Small Observatory by David Arditti, published by Springer_Verlag (£19.00)

‘It covers various telescopes and mounts available to the amateur, types of observatory both run-off and domed, and their siting within the owners’ gardens. …. This is a comprehensive review of all the options needed for a permanent observatory and any observer considering building one should consult this book’ Extract from review by Maurice Gavin in the 2008 August issue of the Journal of the BAA. Also reviewed in 2008 September Sky and Telescope.

 

Contents