Norton's Star Atlas and Reference Handbook (19th Edition) Paperback – 1600
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Top Customer Reviews
And as someone else pointed out, the reference material interleaved between the sky charts, though not exhaustive, is very useful. I use Norton's constantly along with the Sky Atlas 2000 and Burnham's Celestial Handbook (and websites to update Burnham's data), and the combination of the three is perfect for most of my own observing. I have dozens of other books on my shelves but these are the ones I rely on.
For teaching astronomy I substitute the Audubon Field Guide to the Night Sky for the Sky Atlas and Burnham's, and my students love it because Norton's helps them find their way around the sky and the Field Guide description of the constellations tells them about what they see. If I were stranded on a desert island (hope, hope) and couldn't take my beloved and well-annotated Sky Atlas 2000 and Burnham's, I'd take Norton's and the Audubon Field Guide as a very good substitute. I always recommend Norton's, the Audubon Field Guide, and binoculars to beginners--the Sky Atlas 2000, Burnham's, and a telescope can come later (or sooner, for the passionate).
As another point, the star charts only comprise about 15% of this book. The "Reference Handbook" is where this is a gem. The lists of objects to view interspersed between the star charts are invaluable as are the 100+ pages of astronomical information. If you skip this book because two reviewers gave it one star (while the others gave it a 4 or 5) you don't deserve it. Sure, the information concise, but when you're out at night, reading through fluff isn't what you want to do...
This is probably a book to buy after you've stuck to the hobby for a year and know yo're hooked :)
PS Never trust people who only buy things based on how "pretty" they look...
Any beginner would be much better served by spending either a lot less or a little more: less, by purchasing the Golden Field Guide SKYGUIDE at less than 20 bucks (which has it's own problems: it will eventually fall apart -- inexcusable for a "field guide" but the book is still worth every penny); more by going for Will Tirion's SKY ATLAS 2000 Atlas at $50.00, a work of art and a joy to look at, coupled with the SKYGUIDE, and later Burnham's Celestial Handbook, a labor of love.
But not Norton's!
Most recent customer reviews
The Norton's Star Atlas is one of the great traditions of amateur astronomy. Unfortunately, the early printings of the 20th edition are marred by a serious typographic error that... Read morePublished on Oct. 16 2003 by Ross Sackett
Norton's simply keeps getting better. Earlier editions nurtured multiple generations of amateur (and not so amateur) stargazers. Read morePublished on July 19 2000
Forget this lame outdated atlas. For a beginner's atlas, try Wil Tirion's "The Cambridge Star Atlas" instead. Read morePublished on Jan. 21 2000
Norton's was the first star atlas I ever used, 42 years ago, and it is still the atlas I go to for a general orientation to the sky. Read morePublished on Oct. 18 1999