Reflector Book Review: The Herald-Bobroff AstroAtlas


Reflector Book Review:
The Herald-Bobroff AstroAtlas

Category: Observing

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The Herald-Bobroff AstroAtlas
by David Harold and Peter Beroff
HB200 Publications, 1994
P.O. Box 254
A.C.T. 2606
Canberra, Australia
Laminated paper covers, 12x16 spiral bound
214 Charts and 250 pages, $89.95
ISBN: 0 646 20356 8

The new atlas by David Herald and Peter Bobroff, both residents of Australia, is an observer's atlas with no comparison. Imagine my surprise when my daughter, Amanda, gave me this marvelous new tool for my use as a reference in observing and imaging the night sky from my backyard observatory here in Kansas. Thanks to Bob Haler and Janet Emerson at Lymax for guiding her to a present like this for Father s Day.

What makes the The Herald-Bobroff AstroAtlas so valuable is the way information has been compressed into easy to understand symbols, making it unnecessary to go elsewhere to find more details on an object while in the midst of an observing run. Like most amateur astronomers, I do not plan in great detail in advance of an observing session. Due to weather and the circumstances of my job, I usually don t know ahead of time when I will be able to use the telescope. It may be that 2-hour window in the middle of the night, when I get up and I look outside and notice that the clouds have gone away.

The The Herald-Bobroff AstroAtlas allows the observer to quickly select objects in a particular part of the sky and determine at a glance the magnitude, orientation, type, and other key details of the object. This saves valuable time, especially when imaging with a CCD. In my case, I am usually looking at galaxies in search of supernova and am keen to look at face on spirals and image as many as I can during an observing run. The Herald-Bobroff AstroAtlas shows the type of galaxy as well as its orientation and magnitude. And the atlas goes down to 15th magnitude, which is the best range for my work.

There is so much information provided in The Herald-Bobroff AstroAtlas, that it will take a while to get a thorough understanding of the symbols used in order to gain the maximum utility from the charts. A separate card is provided to use as a quick reference to most of the symbols. I am sure it will be the most used part of the atlas.

In addition, the layout of the atlas makes it very easy to use. There is a series of charts of various depth, allowing the user to start out with a broad visual full sky view (A Charts) and work down through B (Bright stars), C (9th mag stars and 14th mag. deep sky objects), D (11th mag. stars and 15th mag deep sky objects). Then E and F charts are provided for selected areas of the sky where greater detail is needed, like the Coma and Virgo clusters and the Magellanic Clouds. This is an easy to use system, and each chart shows the deeper chart boundary for quick reference. The really nice thing about it is that the charts are in left to right order of R.A., making the facing pages match up. Anyone who has used other charts knows how great this is.

In the past, I have used four different references to accomplish what The Herald-Bobroff AstroAtlas allows me to do with one. This atlas will replace the need to use the Bright Star Atlas, Sky Atlas 2000, Uranometria, and The Deep Sky Field Guide while at the telescope. These other references will still have their place, as will the new Millenium Star Atlas, but The Herald-Bobroff AstroAtlas will provide everything needed for the on-the-fly observing sessions so common to all amateurs. I know this tool will allow me to immediately spend more time observing and less time trying to find my way around or decide what to look at next.

Bravo to David and Peter! Well done, gentlemen.

Larry Robinson
Sunflower Observatory
Astronomical Society of Kansas City

Reviewed in the August 1998 issue.


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