Page 6, 6th November 1981

6th November 1981
Page 6
Page 6, 6th November 1981 — Star quality

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Star quality

A SUPERB colour picture from the Voyager I spacecraft of the ringed planet. Saturn. makes an attractive front cover for this, the 21st issue of the Yearbook of Astronomy. There is an added bonus with a back cover photograph of Titan, which is described inside with good reason as "the most interesting body in the Solar System".

Patrick Moore's Yearbook for 1982 follows the now traditional framework. for not only is it a useful compendium of month by month information about eclipses and planetary positions for the coming year, but also contains an article section which will be of more than ephemeral interest.

Dr Garry Hunt. for instance, gives detailed information on Voyager l's encounter with the Saturn system, and there are articles on other current astronomical frontier topics such as the discovery of a possible Black Hole candidate, and the attempts to detect organic grains in space.

Items of more historical interest can be found in the account of the conversion of the Old Royal Observatory at Greenwich into a museum. and the fascinating tale of the vain search for the predicted but nonexistent planet, Vulcan. All this is balanced by articles more directly stimulating to the amateur astronomer: an account of the various finds of meteorites in the British Isles, the imminent return of Comet Swift-Tuttle and its effect upon the Perseid meteor shower, an explanation of the workings of stellar outbursts known as Novae, and a fascinating description of the various mutual occultations and eclipses of the four large Galilean moons of Jupiter — in all of these areas the amateur is still in the best position to make the important initial discoveries.

It is sad to see that the price continues to rise for this Yearbook; looking through previous issues I find that the earliest on my shelves. the 1975 issue, cost only a third of the 1982 issue (I wonder what the 1962 issue cost). Again, I have always Felt that the star charts at the beginning can be of little practical help and should be completely redesigned.

Nevertheless, despite this, Patrick Moore's Yearbook remains a worthwhile asset and an ideal Christmas present for any amateur astronomer.

Fintan O'Reilly

Stonyhurst College Observatory

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