Since comet Shoemaker-Levy collided with the planet Jupiter with stupendous force in 1994 there has been an upsurge of amateur interest in comets. Most comets are first discovered by amateur astronomers because there are so many amateurs looking for them, and techniques and instruments have improved dramatically in the past few years.
After a short but detailed introduction to the comets themselves Nick James and Gerald North describe comet hunting, photographing and imaging comets, and digital image processing. The use of computers for orbital calculations and even helping to discover new comets is given a full chapter, as are advanced techniques including comet photometry and spectroscopy.
This comprehensive book has an accompanying CD-ROM and is at once a "primer" for comet hunters and a reference text for more advanced amateur astronomers.
From the reviews: "If you dream of joining the ranks of comet discoverers such as Halley and Hyakutake, this is the book for you. Part of Sir Patrick Moore's Practical Astronomy Series, Observing Comets provides clear descriptions of the anatomy and trajectories of these "dirty snowballs," as well as tips on viewing, photographing, and sketching them. Advanced amateurs will enjoy technical sections on image processing and spectroscopy, and an accompanying CD-ROM generates comet ephemerides. -Astronomy "Two experienced amateur astronomers -- Nick James and Gerald North -- have teamed up to produce an up-to-date book on the challenges of observing and imaging comets. After an adequate introduction of comets and their origins, the book really comes into its own as an effective guide to sketching, photographing and imaging these icy wanderers from the depths of space. ! to be recommended as a useful introduction to the subject for comet seekers and comet imagers alike." (Nell English, Astronomy Now, December, 2003) "If you dream of joining the ranks of comet discoverers such as Halley and Hyakutake, this is the book for you. ! Observing Comets provides clear descriptions of the anatomy and trajectories of these 'dirty snowballs,' as well as tips on viewing, photographing, and sketching them. Advanced amateurs will enjoy technical sections on image processing and spectroscopy, and an accompanying CD-ROM generates comet ephemerides." (www.astronomy.com, 2003) "This book is intended primarily for those observers who wish to progress from the basics of comet observing and to maximise their results ! . the CD ROM offers a considerable bonus ! containing both comet software and an excellent set of images, mainly of comets from 1995 onwards. Overall this book succeeds in the authors' quest to encourage the comet observer, who is already familiar with the basics, to progress to more detailed results. I have no hesitation in highly recommending it ! ." (Guy M. Hurst, Journal of the British Astronomical Association, Vol. 113 (4), 2003) "'Observing Comets' is ! a really well constructed publication that covers everything that the novice through to the seasoned veteran comet hunter could wish for. ! Clearly and concisely written with profuse illustrations ! . All well explained ! . An excellent CD-rom is also included with the book, making for a comprehensive piece of astronomical merchandise. An absolute must for anyone with more than a passing interest in the subject ! ." (Philip Bridle, BBC Radio, August, 2003)
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