Annals of the Deep Sky – A Survey of Galactic and Extragalactic Objects is by far the most up-to-date and comprehensive observing guide available today, featuring in-depth astrophysical profiles of the major stars and deep-sky objects by constellation. Volumes 1 and 2 cover the constellations Andromeda through Caelum. When completed, the series will cover all 88 constellations.
“We developed Annals to enhance and cultivate the interest of the hundreds of thousands of amateur astronomers worldwide,” says Colorado-based science author Jeff Kanipe, who is writing the text for the new series. “Many of them actively observe with telescopes, while others prefer the comfort of the armchair, but both are driven by a sincere desire to understand the universe. Our goal is to provide extensive, noteworthy background into stars, clusters, nebulae, galaxies, and galaxy clusters — not just pithy descriptives of what they look like in a telescope. Some of the objects we profile, like the Andromeda Galaxy, are well known, but others not so much — but should be. We think each has an interesting story to tell.”
Annals is the first series to integrate the latest observational discoveries with the most recent astrophysical research. Each profile of a celestial object effectively provides a unique tutorial on some aspect of astrophysics, from how stars are born to why galaxies look the way they do.
Annals also draws on the extensive history of astronomy to put today’s skywatchers in context with the rich lineage of past discoveries that trace how astronomers came to understand the nature of the objects they observe. Innovative diagrams created by retired NASA engineer and manager, observer, and graphic illustrator Dennis Webb, in turn, augment the text. Virtually all of them display multiple layers of scientific information in a neat, uncluttered format. For instance, the binary star illustrations (see "Representative binary star orbits" nearby) depict not only the locations of the components but also how they orbit one another and travel through the sky in three dimensions. Every object with intriguing structure is accompanied by one or more intuitive illustrations that show detail, often at several scales, in many cases from large terrestrial and orbiting observatories.
“In some cases, we ‘deconstruct’ galaxies and nebulae,” says Webb, “with images at different wavelengths, revealing the elements of structure, so important to making sense of these distant mysteries. Illustrations or images images often accompany these deconstructions, relating what the amateur can observe to the latest discoveries, encouraging all amateurs to try to push past conventional limits on observing.” See illustration at right for an example.
The series was inspired by the authors’ affection for Burnham’s Celestial Handbook, a three-volume guide published in the 1970s that is still a popular reference. But today, amateur astronomers have become sophisticated in ways that could only have been imagined in Burnham’s day. They have access to larger, more affordable, telescopes, computer-driven mounts, better optical designs, digital and CCD cameras, spectrographs, and photometers. This new frontier has motivated many amateurs to move from merely chalking up the celestial objects they observe to understanding the nature of what they are seeing. In fact, there exists a large cadre of “semi-professional” amateurs who regularly contribute their observational and imaging talents to the science.
Whether a beginner striving to advance their observing skills and knowledge of the universe, or a “semi-pro” with years of observing experience Annals of the Deep Sky will greatly enrich their celestial endeavors.