Finished reading on March 22nd, 2014
Fireside Astronomy is a collection of short articles on various astronomy-related topics. It’s all very well written and easily understandable, not needing much previous knowledge of physics or astronomy, it’s more on a popular level.
The articles range from stories from the history of astronomy and space science to the building of telescopes etc. Some of the stories are funny, some are just the kind of things you’d read in magazines.
As the book was published in 1992, then it gives an impression of the state of astronomy twenty years ago. Although the book is quite old, it shouldn’t be overlooked, as it still has a lot of value, since the history hasn’t really changed.
There are some funny tales there, which were the reason for me reading it. For example how a telescope in the UK was put out of use for quite a while because of a fly. Apparently it had gotten into the telescope and died and fell on the telescope’s cross-hairs. I’m not quite certain whether the cross/hairs were in the main telescope tube or in the guide telescope as they are for amateur telescopes… However the fly broke the cross-hairs and there was a lot of trouble trying to fix them. The cross-hairs help one locate the object you want to observe in case of a guide telescope, as what is in the middle of the cross-hairs will be in the center of the main telescope’s field of view as well (of-course only when the two telescope tubes are perfectly parallel).