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Atlas of Great Comets

  • Date Published: January 2015
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107093492


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About the Authors
  • Throughout the ages, comets, enigmatic and beautiful wandering objects that appear for weeks or months, have alternately fascinated and terrified humankind. The result of five years of careful research, Atlas of Great Comets is a generously illustrated reference on thirty of the greatest comets that have been witnessed and documented since the Middle Ages. Special attention is given to the cultural and scientific impact of each appearance, supported by a wealth of images, from woodcuts, engravings, historical paintings and artifacts, to a showcase of the best astronomical photos and images. Following the introduction, giving the broad historical context and a modern scientific interpretation, the Great Comets feature in chronological order. For each, there is a contemporary description of its appearance along with its scientific, cultural and historical significance. Whether you are an armchair astronomer or a seasoned comet-chaser, this spectacular reference deserves a place on your shelf.

    • Spectacularly illustrated in full colour, the comets are presented in all their vivid glory
    • Includes rarely seen historical images and photographs of comets throughout history
    • Extensively researched, the broader historical and scientific context of each comet is explained through numerous sky charts and historical documents
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'I own many comet books, but simply for the pleasure of casually browsing the illustrations in this atlas, I would have to say that it has instantly become my favourite. It will surely appeal to all who are fascinated by the awesome 'broom stars' of yore.' Journal of the British Astronomical Association

    'There is no other current book of this kind. Whether you want a lavishly illustrated large format coffee-table book, a cultural history of comets, or clearly written accounts of fundamental cometary science, Atlas of Great Comets could give you pleasure for years to come.' BBC Sky At Night Magazine

    'Stoyan's atlas … evokes rich memories of great comets, and its generous format enables its many superb full-page illustrations to be reproduced to great effect. … The text is excellent throughout. I enjoyed dipping into it and am glad to be adding it to my collection.' Richard McKim, The Observatory

    'Stoyan, editor in chief of an astronomy journal and proprietor of an independent German publisher that specializes in amateur astronomy books, has authored an amazingly beautiful large format book. The German title is more descriptive: Die 30 größten Kometen in Wissenschaft, Kultur und Kunst (The 30 Greatest Comets in Science, Culture and Art).  The translation is excellent, and a stunning array of images accompanies the text … A useful glossary, bibliography, and index are included.' M.-K. Hemenway, Choice

    'Each chapter in the book is lavishly illustrated … [For] comets which appeared in the sky before photography, the illustrations are woodcuts, engravings and paintings, and some of them are simply jaw-droppingly beautiful, every bit as striking as the more modern photographs. At the start of the book particularly, every turn of a page brings into view a new vision of wonder. … But this book isn't just a collection of lovely images with some interesting text wrapped around them. It's essentially a time machine, allowing you to travel back through the centuries to imagine what it must have been like to actually see some of the Great Comets of the past. … Should you buy this book? That depends. Do you love comets? Do you love looking at and photographing comets? If you answered yes to either or both of those questions then the answer is yes, you should buy this book. Because it will make you fall in love with them all over again.' Stuart Atkinson, Cumbrian Sky blog (

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2015
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107093492
    • length: 224 pages
    • dimensions: 328 x 249 x 17 mm
    • weight: 1.27kg
    • contains: 123 b/w illus. 163 colour illus. 32 maps 34 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Using this book
    Part I. Introduction: Cometary beliefs and fears
    Comets in art
    Comets in literature and poetry
    Comets in science
    Cometary science today
    Great comets in antiquity
    Great comets of the Middle Ages
    Part II. The 30 Greatest Comets of Modern Times: The Great Comet of 1471
    Comet Halley 1531
    The Great Comet of 1556
    The Great Comet of 1577
    Comet Halley, 1607
    The Great Comet of 1618
    The Great Comet of 1664
    Comet Kirch, 1680
    Comet Halley, 1682
    The Great Comet of 1744
    Comet Halley, 1759
    Comet Messier, 1769
    Comet Flaugergues, 1811
    Comet Halley, 1835
    The Great March Comet of 1843
    Comet Donati, 1858
    Comet Tebbutt, 1861
    The Great September Comet of 1882
    The Great January Comet of 1910
    Comet Halley, 1910
    Comet Arend–Roland, 1956
    Comet Ikeya–Seki, 1965
    Comet Bennett, 1970
    Comet Kohoutek, 1973–4
    Comet West, 1976
    Comet Halley, 1986
    Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9, 1994
    Comet Hyakutake, 1996
    Comet Hale–Bopp, 1997
    Comet McNaught, 2007
    Part III. Appendices
    Table of comet data
    Photo credits

  • Author

    Ronald Stoyan, Oculum-Verlag GmbH
    Ronald Stoyan is Editor-in-Chief of Interstellarum and the proprietor of the independent German publisher Oculum-Verlag, which specialises in amateur astronomy books. He is the founding director of the German deep-sky organisation 'Fachgruppe Deep-Sky' and has authored or co-authored nine books on practical astronomy, including Atlas of the Messier Objects and The Cambridge Photographic Star Atlas.


    Storm Dunlop
    Storm Dunlop is an experienced writer and lecturer on astronomy. He is author of Collins Night Sky (2011), a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, and a past president of the British Astronomical Association.

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