Star Clusters Book

Star Clusters Book


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Model:  willbell_9780943396804
Part Number:  9780943396804
Brand:  Willmann-Bell
Pages:  498


Star Clusters

Authors: Brent A.Archinal and Steven J. Hynes

  • 21.6cm x 27.9cm, 498 pages, hardbound.

Star Clusters covers, in just under 500 pages, star clusters, globular clusters, asterisms and other objects that have been misidentified as such.

It is both a descriptive text of the historical study and astrophysics of some the youngest (open clusters) and oldest (globular clusters) objects that populate the Universe along with the most up-to-date catalog of these objects in existence---an effort that has taken more than a decade to complete. Over the last few hundred years many of these objects have been repeatedly rediscovered and subsequently renamed, misidentified as to their true nature, or given incorrect celestial coordinates.

Altogether there are 5,045 individual objects catalogued in this work that have a total of 13,949 “alias” names‹on average, nearly 3 names for each object. This work catalogs 2,017 clusters in the Milky Way or previously misidentified as Milky Way clusters, including 151 globular clusters or possible globular clusters, and 1547 open clusters or possible open clusters. Also cataloged are clusters or objects misidentified as such in several of the Local Group galaxies. This includes 2,025 objects in the Large Magellanic Cloud, 419 objects in the Small Magellanic Cloud, 578 objects in the Andromeda (M 31) galaxy and 6 objects in the Fornax Dwarf galaxy.

An extensive Appendix explains the origin of all object names and abbreviations and provides detailed references to the original source material for all object discoveries.

In total there are 197 illustrations and 119 pages of extended notes on objects that are either astrophysically or observationally of interest, or have been especially troublesome to catalogers. The approach to developing this catalog has involved a comprehensive survey of discovery documents, visual reports from telescopic observers and personal inspection of the great photographic surveys of the past century.

Particular care has been exercised to determine accurate positions across the entire catalog. Finally, in addition to the chapters on the history and astrophysics of globular and open clusters a chapter is devoted to the observation of these objects.

For more information about this book see:

Star Clusters: Foreword
Star Clusters: Acknowledgments
Star Clusters: Table of Contents
Star Clusters: Chapter 1


You know you have a keeper of a reference book when upon first paging through it you think: “If only I had owned this book when. . . .” That happened to me three times with Star Clusters. When I wrote about the dark nebula Barnard 353 in Cygnus for Sky & Telescope (August 2003, page 118), I sent a lengthy note to my editor about the discordant treatment of the supposed nearby open cluster NGC 6996 by my various atlases. If I had owned this fine book then, I would have needed its single reference, which agrees with my logbook that NGC 6996 is merely a bright patch of the Milky Way.

Likewise, this book would have been a great resource when I tackled my first Terzan globular clusters at Chaco Observatory in New Mexico. Page 253 features photographs of these and other faint systems—all ghostly, challenging objects. And when observing with Tony Buckley’s 14.5-inch Dobsonian in Australia, I found both nebulosity and an open cluster where the Millennium Star Atlas plots only a cluster, Westerlund 2. Nothing bothers me more than being unsure of what object I am viewing. Star Clusters resolves the uncertainty: Westerlund 2 indeed has associated nebulosity, but that nebulous cluster should properly be called NGC 3247 (while the object that Millennium plots as NGC 3247 should actually be called Collinder 220). Time to update my logbook.

Brent Archinal and Steven Hynes started with data from several earlier catalogs. They then carefully studied images to resolve inconsistencies and obtain better positions, and referred to the discoverer’s original observations when mysteries remained. The authors are quite critical (rightly so) of earlier catalogers who failed to perform this last step. Archinal and Hynes have produced what they believe to be “the most complete catalog of star clusters ever made.” In addition to the 62-page “Catalog of Clusters and Asterisms in the Milky Way, and Objects Misidentified as Such,”the volume also includes encyclopedic catalogs for the globulars of the Milky Way and clusters in the Magellanic Clouds, as well as tallies for the Andromeda Galaxy and the Fornax Dwarf Galaxy. These catalogs are the heart of the book and represent more than a decade of effort.

There’s much more than just tables, however. This book is primarily a reference rather than an observing guide; it offers few eyepiece descriptions, except for those made to solve old mysteries. Rounding out the text are chapters on the astrophysics of open and globular clusters and what can be learned about stellar evolution from a group of stars of nearly the same age and chemical composition. The narrative is at a level familiar to Sky & Telescopereaders.

Dipping into Star Clusters on a cloudy night, the new owner will soon come across the extended notes on objects that include many references to professional papers. Many of the citations discuss little-known objects tallied for the first time in this work or point out errata in previous catalogs. Some notes are quite lengthy, such as ones describing how members of the NGC/IC Project re-found clusters at the eyepiece that less-careful catalogers had declared “nonexistent.” The case of Timo Karhula's recovery of NGC 2262, “a perfectly real and impressive cluster“in Archinal’s words, is an example of this work at its best.

. . . It's a tribute to the authors and their editors that the book is this mistake-free. More important, hours of spot checks of data in the tables revealed no errors. I will use this reference frequently, with confidence in the quality of its data.(Alan Whitman, Sky & Telescope magazine)

About the Authors

Steven J. Hynes
Steven J Hynes lives in England and has been an amateur astronomer for over 30 years. His observing has been concerned mostly with deep sky objects, on which he has also written extensively. He was editor of the Webb Society's Quarterly Journal from 1989 to 1993 and Director of their Nebulae and Clusters Section from 1993 to 2003. Steve was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1987 and was the author of Planetary Nebulae, published by Willmann-Bell Inc in 1991. 

Brent A. Archinal
Professionally, Brent Archinal received his PhD from the Ohio State University Department of Geodetic Science and Surveying in 1987. For 13 years he was employed as an Astronomer at the U. S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D. C. His work there centered on performing research into methods for more accurately determining the Earth's orientation and improving the coordinate systems of the Earth and sky. In May of 2000 Brent began professional work on coordinate systems for the other bodies of the solar system with particular emphasis on improving the control network for the planet Mars and high-resolution mapping of proposed 2004 Mars landing sites. 

Brent has also been an active amateur astronomer for many years. While attending Ohio State during the latter 1970's and early 1980's, his interest in observational and amateur astronomy grew. During this same time period he also became active in various astronomy clubs where he served in several official capacities, including as President, of the OSU Astronomy Club and the Columbus Astronomical Society. More recently he has been a member of the Richland (Ohio) Astronomical Society, the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club, and now the Coconino (Arizona) Astronomical Society. 

He has long advocated that visual observers "push the envelope" of what is thought possible. After becoming one of the first to publicize the "Messier Marathon" during the early 1980¹s, in 2001 he become the first (and at this writing, only known) person to observe all 110 Messier objects in a single night using binoculars. He made perhaps the first documented naked eye observation of the M 81 galaxy in 1995, the farthest object visible to the unaided human eye. In 1987, along with Bob Bunge, he made possibly the first known visual observation of a gravitational lens, the double quasar in Ursa Major. 

Brent has a long interest in correcting various problems in the catalogs available to amateur and professional astronomers. This book and the included catalog of star clusters is a direct outgrowth of that interest. In recognition of this work, in 2000 the International Astronomical Union named the minor planet no. 11941 Archinal. Brent currently resides near Flagstaff, Arizona with his wife JoAnne. 

About the Cover

The photograph on the front cover is the Lagoon Nebula and Star Cluster, better known as Messier 8 or NGC 6523 and was produced from two PPF 400 film negatives taken by Tony Hallas using a 12.5-inch Newtonian reflector from Mount Pinos, California. Tony scanned and combined the two negatives digitally to create this image. The nebula was discovered in about 1660 by John Flamsteed and included in his star catalog of 1725, while the cluster was The nebula was discovered in about 1660 by John Flamsteed and included in his star catalog of 1725, while the cluster was later became known as NGC 6530. At least 11 other names(!) are given in the catalog here (p. 95). This is a relatively easy naked-eye object from a dark sky location, in the rich fields of the Sagittarius Milky Way. The intense red in this image is from the light of the ionised Hydrogen gas of the nebula. This light records well photographically and is sometimes faintly visible in moderate to large (over 25 cm aperture) telescopes.


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