WinEphem's Recommended Astronomy Books

The WinEphem program is based upon formulae taken from Peter Duffett-Smith's book, *Astronomy With Your Personal Computer* (1990). Dr. Duffett-Smith has published several excellent references, all of which are available on-line from :

*Astronomy With Your Personal Computer*(1990) -- this is even available in a deluxe hardcover edition, for the truly diehard. If you think you will use it a lot, get the hardcover one. The formulae are written in BASIC, which is fairly easy even for non-programmers to understand.*Easy PC Astronomy*(1996). A shorter version of the same thing; there are fewer explanations for those new to the field, but it's full of formulae.*Practical Astronomy With Your Calculator*(1990). Useful for more than just calculators.

Another scientist who has published astronomical formulae useful for computer nerds is Jean H. Meeus:

*Astronomical Algorithms*(1998). In my opinion, this is his most useful book. Dr. Meeus' formulae are more accurate than Dr. Duffett-Smith's are -- unnecessarily so, from the point of view of a program like WinEphem. However, his explanations about what is going on are perhaps a bit better.*Astronomical Formulae for Calculators*(1988).*Mathematical Astronomy Morsels*(1997). This one is fun, concentrating on special events such as occultations rather than general formulae.*Astronomical Tables of the Sun, Moon and Planets*(1995). This gives tables rather than just formulae.*Elements of Solar Eclipses 1951-2200*(1995). Again, more toward tables than formulae, but it has both. Essential for eclipse addicts like me.*Transits*(1989). Same thing for transits.

Two other essential references for astronomical calculations:

- The
*Astronomical Almanac*for 2007 and 2008. *Explanatory Supplement to the Astronomical Almanac*(2005), P. Kenneth Seidelmann, editor. As far as I know, this is available only in hard-cover, so it isn't cheap; but you cannot find a more authoritative reference than this.

Some other fun and serious books with regard to astronomical and calendrical calculations, and other things astronomical:

*The Calendar*(1998) by David Ewing Duncan. An eminently readable history of calendars and time reckoning. Duncan places into historical context such developments as Caesar's and Gregory's calendar reforms, the invention of numerals, the usefulness of clocks, and the standardization of the "A.D." notation. Suddenly it becomes clear, for example, just*why*there is no Year Zero.*Calendrical Calculations*(1997) by Nachum Dershowitz and Edward Reingold. This has exact details on over a dozen different calendars, both ancient and modern.*Standard C Date/Time Library: Programming the World's Calendars and Clocks*, by Lance Latham. This is more than just a collection of source code for about thirty different calendars; it gives historical and cultural tidbits about each one, concentrating on the theme that our recent "Year 2000" phobia is not unprecedented. There is even a Martian calendar.*Fundamental Astronomy and Solar System Dynamics*(1986), by R.L. Duncombe et al. This is a standard classroom reference.*The Cambridge Atlas of Astronomy*(1994) -- huge and almost as beautiful as its classic, long-out-of-print predecessor, the 1977*Cambridge Encyclopedia of Astronomy*.*A View of the Universe*(1994), by David Malin. In my not-so-humble opinion, Dr. Malin is without question the best astrophotographer of all time. He is the only astronomer whose photographs have been given their own exhibition in a New York art gallery. This is a collection of his most stunning work.*Star Names: Their Lore and Their Meaning*(1963), by Richard Hinckley Allen. More a work of history than of astronomy, this book is an excellent treatise on the mythological origins of astronomy.*Star Lore: Myths, Legends, and Facts*(1911), by William Tyler Olcott. A recent (2004) republication of this classic work.

Please E-mail me with any comments you may have on these recommendations.

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This page was last updated on 29 April 2007.

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