A rare look at the southern skies' greatest glories.
The celestial objects of the Southern Hemisphere are fascinating to astronomers everywhere. The southern stars, nebulae, and galaxies have exotic names like Omega Centauri, the Tarantula Nebula, Canopus, the Vela Supernova, the Coal Sack, and the Magellanic Clouds.
And there's more: the Southern Milky Way is crammed with clusters and nebulae of great interest to resident astronomers of the southern hemisphere, and to the many visitors from the north who relish the opportunities to view the clear, dark skies of the interiors of southern Africa and Australia with binoculars, telescopes and cameras.
Pearls of the Southern Skies depicts 71 Deep Sky Objects photographed by Dieter Willasch and described in detail by Auke Slotegraaf. The text and pictures are laid out season by season, and accompanied by 15 easy-to-use full-color location charts.
Dieter Willasch is an astrophotographer who has split his time since 2001 between Germany and South Africa.
Auke Slotegraaf is a mathematical psychologist and amateur astronomer. He is the director of the Deep Sky Observing Section of the Astronomical Society of South Africa.
On a clear, dark winter's night in the southern hemisphere, the mere act of looking skyward is likely to result in a deeply moving and unforgettable experience. Standing under the arch of the Milky Way, which spans from horizon to horizon, and looking directly into the heart of our galaxy feels like being in the center of the cosmos. This silent awe is at once expansive and all-inclusive; while at the same time introspective, a speck of dust in an infinite universe.
Gazing at this southern panorama with the naked eye quickly leads to observing with binoculars, and then to using a telescope to explore the wonders of the southern sky. This is the path we followed.
Along this path runs a trail, along which the traveler feels compelled to grasp these impressions in pictures and share them with those who rarely, or never, have the opportunity to walk beneath the southern skies. This book is a scenic viewing point along that trail.
We wished to present the most beautiful and interesting objects of the southern sky in pictures, the selections of which are, of course, very personal and subjective. We also wanted to share with the reader some facts worth knowing about these objects: How can they be found with the naked eye? How do they look when seen through binoculars and telescopes? Who discovered them? What are these objects really?
This book is dedicated to all who carry the longing for the stars in their hearts, and we wish them an exciting journey through the southern sky.
August 2014 Dieter Willasch Auke Slotegraaf