18 June 2012

Knightware poll results: What is your favorite sky atlas?

The latest poll running on knightware.biz asked 'What is your favorite sky atlas?' The response tally below was definitely a surprise to me regarding the 1st and 2d place finishers.
  1. Pocket Sky Atlas (Sinnott): 33%
  2. Sky Atlas 2000.0 (Tirion): 30%
  3. Uranometria 2000.0 1st Ed (Tirion, Rappaport and Lovi): 6%
  4. Millennium Star Atlas (Sinnott & Perryman): 6%
  5. Herald-Bobroff AstroAtlas (Herald and Bobroff): 3%
  6. Uranometria 2000 2d Ed. (Tirion, Rappaport, and Remaklus): 3%
  7. Other: 18%
According to the results, Roger Sinnott's Pocket Sky Atlas is repondents' favorite sky atlas, receiving 33% of the votes. I own this atlas and I like it. Frankly I think every observer should have this little atlas due to its handy size and completeness. It isn't a super deep atlas, but it is absolutely the handiest atlas I've ever had. I keep a light wedge with my PSA so that it is ready to go at all times.

Sky Atlas 2000.0 by Wil Tirion had led the poll from the beginning, but it was surpassed in the last few weeks by Pocket Sky Atlas. I've been through a few copies of SA2000, and I suppose that it is my favorite. I learned that even though I take a laptop with planetarium software on it when I observe, I should always have non-electronic charts available. Laptops can fail at inopportune times. Perhaps I've used SA2000 long enough to know the image scale to finderscope translation without thinking much about it. Further, I use it primarily to find deep-sky objects and a very few double stars.

Next comes a tie between Uranometria 2000.0, 1st Ed. and Millennium Star Atlas at 6%. The 2 volume Uranometria set accompanied me out to observe for many years, but now I never use it. I think I stopped using it because it is bulky (2 hardbound volumes), the layout is illogical to me, and the dew here in North Carolina does not agree with its beautifully printed but uncoated pages. Generally I use planetarium software these days to go deep - tiny, dim galaxies and planetaries.

Millennium Star Atlas (also at 6%) never found its way to my bookshelf. I thought many times of getting a set, but it would be for indoor use only and it was a bit expensive. I suspect that those that have this set really like them - after all, it may turn out to be the last great printed atlas.

Finally we have Herald-Bobroff AstroAtlas (HB) and Uranometria 2000.0 2nd Ed. in a tie at 3% each. I am surprised that the HB atlas didn't rate much higher. I borrowed a copy a few years ago and was very impressed. My only problem with it was that some charts were in tiny print and were hard to read (I ain't as young as I used to be!) I think the main reason it received only 3% is that it is out of print. It is a fantastic atlas and I would buy a copy if one came along at a good price. A no-brainer!

Uranometria 2000.0 2nd Ed. never appealed to me because I had the first edition. The second edition cures the illogical layout problem with the first, but it didn't cure the bulkiness and uncoated paper issues. Still, it fills a nice gap between SA2000 and MSA at a competitive price.

The Bottom Line

If I had to recommend an atlas to a new telescope owner, it would be Pocket Sky Atlas. Perhaps that's why it edged out SA2000.