Astronomical Spectroscopy for Amateurs is a complete guide for amateur astronomers, both novice and experienced, who want to do something more than "run of the mill" astrophotography and are looking for a new challenge. The book is broadly divided into three parts. First, there is a brief overview of the history and development of the spectroscope. This is followed by a short introduction to the theory of stellar spectra. The final parts of this section provide details of the necessary reference spectra required for instrument testing and spectral comparison. It concludes with a chapter covering the various types of spectroscopes available to the amateur. Next, there is a series of "How to…" sections. These cover all aspects of setting up and using various types of commercially available and home-built spectroscopes. Transmission gratings are covered first, and then more complex models, all the way to the sophisticated Littrow design. The final part of Astronomical Spectroscopy for Amateurs is about practical spectroscope design and construction. It contains a collection of detailed instructions covering the design and building of three different types of spectroscope, along with the necessary design theory (with minimal math). Developing an instrument in simple steps from the basic grating spectroscope, using standard "off the shelf" adaptors, the author describes how to build spectroscopes equal in performance to the better commercial units, constructed using basic hand tools for a fraction of the cost! This is the only up-to-date practical spectroscopy book available to amateurs. For the first time, it also brings together an invaluable user knowledge base – a collection of observing, analyzing, and processing hints and tips that will allow the amateur to build up and develop important skills in preparing scientifically acceptable spectral data, which can make a valuable contribution to ProAm (professional/amateur) projects. It covers in detail all aspects of the design, construction techniques, testing, calibrating, and using a spectroscope – enough detail to enable the average amateur astronomer to successfully build and use his own spectroscope for a fraction of the current commercial cost. This book is an ideal complement to Robinson’s Spectroscopy: the Key to the Stars (Springer 2007) and Martin’s Spectroscopic Atlas of Bright Stars (Springer, due 2009). Together, the three books form a complete package for all amateur astronomers who are interested in practical spectroscopy. As Professor Chris Kitchin said, "If optical spectroscopy had not been invented then fully 75 percent of all astronomical knowledge would be unknown today, and yet the subject itself receives scant attention in astronomical texts." Olivier Thizy (of Shelyak Instruments, the builder of the LiHiResIII commercial spectroscope) writes on an Internet forum; "What is missing is tutorial books and "how to" books with amateur equipment? I believe spectroscopy is in general moving from builders to users (as CCD cameras did in the 1990's)… …literature is following but slowly." This is the practical spectroscopy book that amateur astronomers have been waiting for!
Ken Harrison was born in Scotland where he trained as a mechanical engineer. He has been designing and building telescopes since the early 1960’s and has built a series of spectroscopes for use on medium sized amateur telescopes. He was Section Director of the Astronomical Society of Victoria, Australia, Astrophotographic Section for ten years and past President of the Society. Harrison’s university thesis (and his first publication) was Design and Construction of the Isaac Newton 98-inch Telescope (Strathclyde University, 1970). Since then he has published many articles on optical design, including “Blink Comparison” (BAA Journal Vol87, p94) and “Method of Radially Supporting Large Mirrors” (Vol87, p154). He has made contributions to the Astronomical Society of Victoria Newsletter and was for three years the Editor of the ‘N’Daba’ newsletter of the Natal Centre, Astronomical Society of Southern Africa.