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"Deep-Sky Companions: The Messier Objects" by Stephen O'Mearawith foreward by David H. Levy
Hardcover - 336 pages, December 1998 revised July 2000
If you ever wanted for a guide book which would provide not only good photographs, but also a realistic vision of how the most popular deep sky celestial objects may appear when viewed through a good amateur telescope (such as many sold by Company Seven) with very detailed observing summaries, then this is a book which you should consider.
The "Messier Catalog" is a list of 109 Galaxies, emission and planetary Nebulae, and Star Clusters which were identified and cataloged between 1757 and 1784 by Charles Messier (b. 26 June 1730 in Lorraine France, d. 12 April 1817 in Paris). A skilled observer employed at an observatory in Paris, in August 1758 Messier was searching for Comets when he came across a fuzzy spot in the night sky; he began to write a catalog with this object "M 1" (later known as the "Crab Nebulae"), he would add many more to his list over the remainder of his observing lifetime.
What has become known as the "Messier Catalog" is a selection representing some variety of the popular types of objects many of which may be found by amateur astronomers either naked eye, with binoculars, and with relatively simple telescopes. This is the most important aspect of the "Messier Catalog" - it is the first, readily attainable challenge for the amateur astronomer. However, it has been one thing to find a faint smudge and know what it is, and another matter entirely to be able to see enough structure in an object in order to understand better what one is seeing. Typical books on the Messier objects have tended to provide a brief description of the objetc, charts and two dimensional navigation coordinates to help one find the object, and a photograph. For a number of reasons, the photographs do not tend to represent what one may actually see with a small telescope. for the staff at Company Seven the vital aspect of the book "Deep-Sky Companions: The Messier Objects" is that it includes hand drawings which accurately represent what may be seen in many of the telescopes of the quality that Company Seven sells. "Deep-Sky Companions: The Messier Objects" includes a biography of Charles Messier, information about how to find and observe the Messier objects, photographs, drawings, and a tour (what to see and how to see them) of each of the Messier objects listed.
In order to be sure to keep the drawings relevant to the amateur, Stephen chose to observe with only one telescope, and a modest selection of accessories. For this task he chose a second generation TeleVue achromatic refracting telescope - the "Genesis" (4" aperture, 500mm f5); this versatile instrument has since been replaced by improved apochromatic TeleVue telescopes of the 101 and 102 series. This book has become one of our best advertisements for the versatile, readily transportable fast TeleVue 4 inch (10cm) aperture refracting telescopes.
Similarly to keep things simple, and relate as much as possible to the average amateur observer Stephen chose to use the "Genesis" telescope on a simple but sturdy TeleVue "Gibraltar" alt-azimuth mount with Ash Wood tripod. He equipped the telescope with only a modest selection of accessories: TeleVue 22mm "Panoptic" eyepiece (providing 23X, 2.85 Degrees Actual Field of View), a 7mm Nagler eyepiece (71X, 1.08 AFOV), and a TeleVue Barlow lens to increase the magnification by 1.8X. Stephen chose to limit himself to not more than 129X provided by the 7mm Nagler when used with the Barlow so that he would not exceed that limitation commonly imposed by turbulent night skies under which amateurs often operate.
This is the book which Company Seven suggests to those who wish to start into deep sky (objects outside the Solar System) astronomy by naked eye, or with binoculars, and are very likely to buy a telescope. It is the best illustrated work on the subject, good and entertaining reading, and suitable for most children at Junior High/Middle School levels up to adults.
Price $34.95 (U.S.D.); please add $4.00 for domestic postage, or $6.00 for international postage.
Left: Stephen O'Meara (22,873 bytes)
An accomplished observational astronomer, writer, and photographer, Steve O'Meara is known in the astronomical community worldwide for his precise drawings of solar-system objects as may be seen through the telescope. His remarkable skills continually reset the standard of quality for other visual observers. Steve was the first to sight Halley's Comet on its return in 1985. He noticed the dark "spokes" in Saturn's B ring before the Voyager spacecraft imaged them. And he was the first to determine the rotation period of the distant planet Uranus.
Steve earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Northeastern University, he has spent much of his career on the (editorial staff of Sky & TeIescope magazine. The Texas Star Party presented to him its Omega Centauri Award for his "efforts in advancing astronomy through ohservation, writing, and promotion, and for sharing his love of the sky". The International Astronomical Union named asteroid 3637 O'Meara in his honor.
When not looking skyward from his home on the Big Island of Hawaii, Steve enjoys traveling the world with his wife, Donna O'Meara, to photograph volcanic eruptions.
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