Plot or Premise
What I Liked
One of the most obvious challenges for an Observer’s Guide of this kind is balancing the needs of newbies and moderate amateurs with the needs of advanced astronomers, photographers, and outright astro-physicists. However, I’m on the newer end of the spectrum, and I found the typical wealth of information such as using the handbook for teaching purposes and resources (p 17); observable satellites (p 25); filters (p 64); deep-sky observing hints (p 85); the sky month by month; and overviews on planets, dwarf planets, satellites, the sun, and various star options before getting to the deep-sky lists (which could benefit from better presentation). However, I think my favourite section was on the Moon. The entire handbook is “made” just having the info from Bruce McCurdy on lunar observing starting on page 158 as it is perfect for me. Relative shifts per day (p 158), Canadian content (p 160), the Hadley Rille (p 161), and the lunar certificate (p 161) are all great elements for me to try to see in the coming year.
What I Didn’t Like
I was surprised to see a number of errors in included URLs. While it is hard to stay evergreen, these were links that had not changed from last year and when I went back to the RASC website, the links worked just fine. Somehow they got edited in publication and never tested. Even links to the actual RASC website were wrong. There are also some highly technical pages on magnification, telescope parameters, night myopia, and exit pupils, and while correct, they are presented so densely that re-reading them left me more confused than informed. Finally, there is a strong economic bias that creeps into the texts in a few places — on binoculars, the only ones they mention as being good cost around $1500, and when talking about using Schmidt-Cassegrain scopes (often bought as they are quite portable), recommends just putting it in your backyard observatory, assuming of course you have the money to have a house with a backyard with room and resources to build an observatory. In addition, there are numerous editing choices made throughout the text such as lists sorted by one variable instead of by one that might aid organization. I’ve already found myself copying lists from previous years online into spreadsheets so I can resort them into a more usable format.
The Bottom Line
Solid guide but some editorial and tone issues throughout.