University Lowbrow Astronomers

The Herald-Bobroff Astro Atlas.

by Harry L. Juday
Printed in Reflections: November, 2001.

I do not know how many club members have, use, or are familiar with this star atlas.  It is one that I find very practical to use, prompting me to write this review.

A MUCH shorter “rave” review of this star atlas can be found at the Astronomical League’s “Reflector Book Review” page on the web at

This is a 1 vol. multi scaled atlas containing 214 charts, divided into 6 sections ( A thru F) ranging from general distribution of galaxies, Messiers, etc. to detailed charts on the most popular and densely crowded areas of the sky.  The AstroAtlas was created by David Herald and P. Boborff of Canberra, Australia and published in 1994 by HB2000 Publications, Woden, 2606, A.C.T. Australia.

This is a large 12 1/2” x 16 1/2” laminated paper covered volume with a 32 double wire ring binding which allows the atlas to open flat and seems to be holding up excellently.  The chart pages are 12” x 16 1/2”, printed on a heavy wt. paper that takes dewing fairly well, even though they are not laminated.

The charts are preceded by a 19 page introduction and explanation section with well detailed descriptions of each chart series, symbols, references, etc.

The charts themselves are 14” tall and vary between 9 1/4” and 10+” wide at the widest points, excluding polar regions which are (you guessed it) round.  The charts are tapered toward the poles as required by sky position.  They are arranged in descending RA. order from left to right with the first and last chart in each series containing adequate overlap of area.

There are 12 “A” Series charts covering the whole sky and generally showing distribution of included objects by classification.

There are 48 “B” Series charts, arranged in 3 separate 16 chart sets, “B”, “BS”, and “BM”.  They are based on “The Yale Bright Star Catalog” showing all stars down to visual magnitude 6.5 and 641 additional YBSC stars between vis. mag. 6.6 & 6.9

Each chart covers a large area of sky, 64d in declination and 6 hrs. in RA.  They are arranged so that +60d dec. to -60d dec. charts of the same RA hrs. appear on opposing pages.

The “B” series is intended for quickly locating the brightest stars and non-stellar astronomical objects.  The “B” and “BS” charts are identical except that the “BS” charts are presented with South up.  The “BM” charts contain stars only with the vis. mag. given for each star shown.  The primary purpose of this is for judging the transparency of the sky to the naked eye.

The 94 “C” charts are the workhorse of this volume.  They plot all stars thru vis. mag. 9.0 and non-stellar objects thru vis. mag 14.0.  They are shown in a uniform scale and except for polar regions have grid lines every 3d in dec. and 12min. in RA.  Additionally the sidebars show alternate heavy/light lines every 1d dec. and 4min. RA.  Each chart page shows the star mag. scale in one of the margins.

Position angles are shown for double stars and variable stars indicated.  All major non-stellar objects are shown with common symbols.  Where known, the orientation and relative size of each galaxy are shown to scale.

Bright and Dark Nebula however, are shown with box and diamond shaped figures, one of the major faults of this atlas in my opinion.

The 42 “D” charts cover crowded areas of the sky.  Their boundaries are shown on the “C” series charts with a light gray borderline and location (D 27, etc.)  They are of varying scale to accommodate the density of the area and show stars thru vis. mag. 10.0 except in galaxy fields where it is 11.5.  All non-stellar objects are shown thru vis. mag. 15.0.  Object identification is limited to the brightest items.

The “E” & “F” series of charts show mostly far Southern regions, Magellanic Clouds and Eta Carina (this is an Australian published star atlas) except for the Virgo Cluster area of chart “E” which shows stars to vis. mag. 11.0 & non-stellar objects to vis. mag. 15.0.

In all, I have found this to be a very useful one volume star atlas that takes over where “Sky Atlas 2000” leaves off, but is not as detailed as “The Millennium Star Atlas”.  And when searching for, or identifying objects, I usually use them in that order, depending on the object and how fast I find or identify it.  As I almost always view from my home, I can have this luxury, however, for taking one volume into the field, at this time I would choose the AstroAtlas (yes, I have ordered the new Uranometria 2000.0 and Field Guide, so I shall see how they compare).

This is not an inexpensive book, the current cost is $89.95 plus $8.00 s&h from Lymax Astronomy.

For those who may be interested:

Lymax Astronomy
13008 E. US 40 Hwy.
Independence, Missouri, 64055
(888) 737-5050 (toll free)


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