With the complete domination of highly accurate and very detailed digital Star Atlases around, you would have thought that a) there would be no need for hard copy printed versions any more, and b) Not another NEW hard copy atlas. Well that’s what I thought until I saw Interstellarium’s new Desktop Edition Atlas.
Upon opening it, you realise that it very closely duplicates the information in Willman Bell’s Uranometria 2000.0 atlas. Both have a similar map scale (Uranometria 1.85cm per degree – Interstellarium 1.5cm per degree) and show stars down to about 9.5 mag. But the really big difference is in the colouration of various deep sky objects in Interstellarium’s version. Objects are coloured according to the visibilty when seen through various apertures of telescope. The three coloured shades represent views though a 100mm, 200mm and 300mm scopes. This makes it obvious what objects are worth hunting down and which ones you can safely ignore.
The Atlas comes in two versions.The Desktop edition is printed on heavy paper with a cardboard cover. It is spiral bound and can be flipped over. The legend is printed on the inner sleeve of the cover. This edition will last for a lifetime of observing if handled with minimum care.
For observatory use, you need the Field version.
This edition comes in a sturdy slipcase. The maps are printed on Polyart, which feels like paper, but is a sophisticated polyethylene foil. The cover is Priplak, a durable PVC material. The legend comes separately and can be put in a jacket on the inner sleeve. The entire set is waterproof and tear-resistant. You can write on it with water-soluble ink, and wipe it away. If it gets wet, the atlas can be simply dried by wiping over the pages with a dry cloth. The pages will not get worn even if after being soaked in an aquarium!
The desktop edition is £60.00 and the Field edition a staggering £140.00. Having said that, if you don’t like using a PC at the scope – with all the associated light adaption problems – then the Field edition would be the ultimate ‘At the Scope’ atlas. While I brought the Desktop edition, I’m sorely tempted with the Field edition, for when I’m ‘star hopping’.