July 9, 2016

Reviews of A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets

Review in the October 2001 Astronomy Magazine, pp. 94, 96

Stars and Planets, Ian Ridpath; illustrated by Wil Tirion, 400 pages, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 2001; ISBN 0-691-08913-2; paperback, $19.95.

A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets, Fourth Edition, Jay M. Pasachoff; maps and charts by Wil Tirion, 578 pages, Houghton-Mifflin, Boston, 2000; ISBN 0-395-93431-1; paperback, $19.

These nearly interchangable [sic] field guides–published by Princeton Field Guides and Peterson Field Guides, respectively–contain virtually the same information at the same high level of quality. The handy size, copious illustrations, maps, and charts, as well as the latest in astrophotography throughout each, practically beg astronomers to take them along to star parties.
Detailed information pinpointing stars in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, as well as in-depth observing tips for the 88 constellations, consume more than half of Section I of the Princeton guide. Section II includes text on planets, stars, and equipment, and features photos and drawings identifying areas of interest on the moon.
Pasachoff sprinkles illustrations, charts and photos in dedicated chapters throughout his Peterson guide. Monthly star maps, deep-sky observing techniques, and plenty of basic astronomy and equipment information share space with an appendix, glossary, and bibliography that furnish readers with further astronomical tidbits.
At first blush, only star chart color and placement account for any difference between the two field guides. On closer inspection, readers will discover that Ridpath’s Princeton Guide includes information good until 2005, but that Pasachoff’s includes information valid through the end of 2010. However, either guide works just fine for all levels of amateur astronomers. –C.R.

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