The beginners guide to successful deep sky observing
By David and Billie Chandler
Sky Atlas for Small Telescopes and Binoculars was written to fill a special need. More 2.5"
(60mm) telescopes are sold than any other kind, but most star atlases assume at least a 6" or 8" telescope.
We, of course, recommend that beginners start with a larger telescope, if possible, but the fact is most people
start small. If you own a small telescope already, you should supplement it with a pair of binoculars, learn
to use the equipment you have, and start spending time under the stars. Featuring nearly 200 deep sky objects
selected for visibility in a 2.5" telescope or simple binoculars, this atlas is designed to help you do
The atlas format is similar to the classic Norton's Star Atlas. Think of an orange as the whole
sphere of the sky. Slice off the two ends, then cut the remainder of the orange into six vertical slices. The first
circular map covers the north polar region, six vertical segments spaced around the equator cover the majority
of the sky, and the final circular map covers the south polar region. (The circular maps are stereographic projections
and the vertical segment maps are transverse Mercator projections. Both projections preserve shapes well.) The
maps highlight the Milky Way with representation digitized from a master Milky Way map by the renowned space artist,
Don Davis. You will find this to be a great improvement over Milky Way outlines in most other atlases. Deep sky
objects, including a careful selection of double stars and other stars of special interest, are highlighted in
blue. Constellation figures are drawn to match the figures on The Night Sky.
Every deep sky object marked on the map is described in detail on the facing page.
Facing each map the highlighted deep sky objects are grouped by constellation with catalog information and helpful
commentary. Where more detail would be helpful, a small finder chart is included as an inset map. To be selected,
an object must be visible in a typical 2.5" telescope, an ordinary pair of binoculars, or both. If you have
a larger telescope this is still an excellent starter atlas. Even experienced observers will find it useful as
a guide to selecting bright objects for public star parties.
Some of the binocular objects are rarely marked on other atlases because they are too large for typical telescope
fields of view. If you have another star atlas we challenge you to find a reference to Cr 70, the large but striking
open cluster surrounding the three belt stars of Orion, Mel 20, the huge naked-eye cluster surrounding the brightest
star in Perseus, Stock 2 or Mel 15 near the double cluster in Perseus, or Mel 111, the Coma Berenices cluster.
These are all excellent binoculars objects that should not be overlooked, but typically are!
Preceding the atlas proper is a general overview of observing techniques, equipment, a little background on
the nature of the deep sky objects to be observed, and suggestions on where to go next. The last page of the atlas
is a list of resources including books, other charts, software, and periodicals.
Quoting from the text, "If this atlas does the job it is intended to do, you will soon outgrow it."
It is intended to ensure that your first steps in astronomical observing will be successful and rewarding ones.