Atlases & Books

Sky Atlas 2000.0

Sky Atlas 2000.0 CoverThis review of Sky Atlas 2000.0 is the second in a series of atlas reviews to help you decide which star atlas is right for you. My first review covered S&T’s Pocket Sky Atlas. Sky Atlas 2000.0 is a large-scale atlas beautifully printed in a large-page format. It has stars down to magnitude 8.5 and deep sky objects down to around magnitude 13. Sky Atlas 2000.0 comes in three editions: Desk (black stars on white background), Field (white stars on black background), and Deluxe (color-coded deep-sky objects on white background), and each edition comes in a paper version and a laminated version. All versions include close-up charts of crowded areas such as the Virgo cluster, as well as a transparent plastic coordinate-grid overlay for determining positions accurately.

Regardless of the edition, this is clearly a star atlas for serious star-hopping which will help you find objects well beyond the Messier catalog. It is a fantastic atlas, but for observers in urban (and even sub-urban) areas, Sky Atlas 2000.0 is probably overkill: most of the deep-sky objects won’t be visible in washed-out skies, even with relatively large amateur telescopes. Although having more stars plotted compared to Pocket Star Atlas or Norton’s Star Atlas can be an advantage for star hopping if you have a 50mm or better finder scope, I haven’t found the difference significant when star-hopping in light-polluted skies. However, if you regularly go to a dark-sky site in addition to observing from urban areas, Sky Atlas 2000.0 makes sense as an atlas that will serve you well in both locations....


Pocket Sky Atlas

A good star atlas is essential for finding your way around the night sky and locating interesting objects. This is especially true in washed-out skies, where you may not see enough stars to easily recognize all the constellations. But which star atlas is right for you? In this first of a series of atlas reviews, I’ll look at Sky & Telescope’s Pocket Sky Atlas. This is a beautifully printed atlas designed specifically for use in the field. Its spiral binding and compact format make it easy to use at the telescope. It’s also a good match for washed-out astronomers to use for star-hopping because its magnitude limit for stars corresponds well to what you can see using finder scopes and binoculars in light-polluted skies, and the deep sky objects included cover just about anything you can hope to see with a telescope from urban areas. On the other hand, if you are looking for something to help you learn the constellations and generally find your way around the night sky, the Pocket Sky Atlas may be the wrong tool: the charts are too narrow and too detailed for that. To make effective use of this atlas you should already be able to locate the major constellations. Allow me to explain further...


Syndicate content