A Peterson Field Guide to Stars and Planets

A Peterson Field Guide to Stars and Planets

Paperback(Fourth Edition)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780395934319
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 11/28/1999
Series: Peterson Field Guides Series
Edition description: Fourth Edition
Pages: 592
Sales rank: 161,714
Product dimensions: 4.50(w) x 7.25(h) x 1.19(d)

About the Author

Jay M. Pasachoff is the Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy and the Chair of the Astronomy Department at Williams College. He is the author of the Peterson Field Guide to Stars and Planets, as well as numerous textbooks and trade books on astronomy, weather, and more.


Roger Tory Peterson, one of the world's greatest naturalists, received every major award for ornithology, natural science, and conservation as well as numerous honorary degrees, medals, and citations, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Peterson Identification System has been called the greatest invention since binoculars. These editions include updated material by Michael O'Brien, Paul Lehman, Bill Thompson III, Michael DiGiorgio, Larry Rosche, and Jeffrey A. Gordon.

Read an Excerpt

The moon is often the most prominent object in the nighttime sky. The moon is somewhat more than one-quarter the diameter of the earth. This makes it the largest substantial satellite (moon) in the solar system in comparison to its parent planet. (Three moons of Jupiter and one each of Neptune and Saturn are physically larger than our moon; Pluto’s small moon Charon is nearly half Pluto’s size.) The moon orbits the earth every 271-3 days with respect to the stars. But during that time, the earth and moon have moved as a system about 1-12 of the way in their yearly orbit around the sun. So if the moon at a certain point in its orbit is directly between the earth and the sun, 271-3 days later it has not quite returned to that point directly between the earth and the sun. The moon must orbit the earth a bit farther to get back to the same place with respect to the line between the earth and the sun. The moon reaches this point in a couple of days, making the synodic period of the moon equal to 291-2 days. (The synodic period is the interval between two successive conjunctions — coming to the same celestial longitude — of two celestial bodies, in this case conjunctions of the moon and sun as observed from the earth.) It is the synodic months that are taken into account in lunar calendars.

Table of Contents

Editor’s Note v Acknowledgments vi List of Tables and Appendixes x How to Use This Book 1

1. A First Look at the Sky 7 2. A Tour of the Sky 21 3. The Monthly Sky Maps 46 4. The Constellations 126 5. Stars, Nebulae, and Galaxies 144 6. Double and Variable Stars 194 7. Atlas of the Sky 209 8. The Moon 348 9. Finding the Planets 385 10. Observing the Planets 418 11. Comets 455 12. Asteroids 463 13. Meteors and Meteor Showers 467 14. Observing the Sun 474 15. Coordinates, Time, and Calendars 495 16. Telescopes and Binoculars 503

Appendixes 512 Glossary 548 Bibliography 557 Index 563

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A Peterson Field Guide to Stars and Planets 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This little book has it all. While doing a research project, I discovered that this was one of the only resources that listed more than 50 of the brightest stars. It has a very complete listing of variable stars (both long and short period), multiple stars, nearst stars, proerties of spectral types, etc, etc... and that's just the appendix. The information is complete, and the format is and easy to understand. As an Intermediate Amateur Astronomer, I feel that if I could only own 1 guide to the stars, this would be it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm a student that thrives on knowledge of stars and this book is the ultamit guide to stars and planets. I got it last year and I use it pratically every day. I love the atlas charts on every constellation. Appendix 2 The Brightest stars provided tons of information on all of the brightest stars in the night sky.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm an astronomy educator. When people want to do star gazing, and they are looking for a resource, THIS is what I recommend. SO much information in such a little book! Fits in a backpack or glove box, because it's not the book you have, it's the book you have WITH you.  Even better than an ap or internet connection. It's. All. Right. There. Passachoff is a great writer and Tirion is THE name in astronomy maps. Read this, cover to cover, and you will know astronomy. Use it as a quick reference guide, and it's all you'll ever need for star gazing. Can't say enough.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Everything I know about the heavens above I learned from this book! I love it!