Book Review - Astronomy Hacks by Robert and Barbara Thompson
Robert Bruce Thompson & Barbara Fritchman Thompson have done a very nice job in their book Astronomy Hacks - Tips & Tools for Observing the Night Sky (O'Reilly). If you are just starting out, the first part of the book should appeal most to you. It gives you a solid grounding in the science of astronomy and how to find what you're looking for. For those who have some previous experience, the second part covers the more detailed things, like how to hack your scope as well as accessories that add to your viewing success.
Contents: Getting Started; Observing Hacks; Scope Hacks; Accessory Hacks; Index
I almost view this as a guide to astronomy rather than a hacks book. If you were to buy a telescope for your child, this would be a good book to pick up as an accessory. Hacks such as #1 - Don't Give Up, #2 - Join an Astronomy Club, and #6 - Be Prepared are perfect for getting off on the right foot. If you know what to do early on, there's far less chance of disappointment. Perhaps you won't end up selling the telescope a year down the road as "only used twice".
Scope and accessory hacks are where the pros will start benefiting. Obviously, you have to know what you're doing to benefit from hacks such as #38 - Tune Your Newtonian Reflector for Maximum Performance or #41 - Counterweight a Dobsonian Scope. But that's the nice thing about this book. It's not one that you read once and stash away, never to be opened again. You'll use it over and over throughout your astronomy "career".
Oh, and just so you're not disappointed... There are only 65 hacks here instead of the usual 100. Wouldn't want you to feel short-changed... :-)
Definitely a "must have" book if you're a star-gazer or if you have inklings to take up the hobby...