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During more than four decades of involvement in amateur astronomy, I have enjoyed the privilege of rubbing shoulders with numberless amateur and professional astr- omers. In so doing I have encountered at first, second, and third hand many of the joys and pitfalls that sky watchers can experience in pursuit of the universe's wonders. I have often howled at tall tales that would not disgrace a pirate's tavern. Many of these astounding stories have become the kernels of my Dear Steve column items. Learning how to operate the technology for observing and imaging the universe is work enough for any aspiring astronomer; however, many have problems of their own making. Not only do they share these troubles with other astronomers, they are on the receiving end of colleagues and friends doing the same. With all these agonized communications flying about, it is hard to understand how anyone gets any real work done! For the amusement of my peers I have long fondly parodied these imagined literary exchanges. These fantasy ``Agony Aunt'' questions began appearing in the pages of the Loughton Astronomical Society's monthly (and Christmas Special) journals about 30 years ago, in the guise of The astronomer's problem page. This was by the kind indulgence of the then editor, namely myself. Happily, even when the magazine of the LAS evolved into something much better, under the tender and loving care of those who came after me, these problem letters were still in demand and even now occasionally appear.
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Table of Contents

Some Background.- Fundamentals.- Instrumental Hiccups.- Medical Maladies.- Guiding the Naive.- Observational Tips.- The Expert.- Social Torments.

About the Author

Steve Ringwood was given his first astronomy book (The Golden Book of Astronomy) when he was nine, and, like many others of his generation, the Apollo years cemented his lifelong fascination with space. At 15 he bought his first telescope, a Japanese 40mm refractor. That first incredible view of a first quarter Moon had him hooked, and thus began the series of instrument acquisitions of steadily growing apertures that continues to this day. As a teen he joined the British Astronomical Association (BAA) and shortly afterwards joined his local astronomy group (Loughton Astronomical Society), which, at the time, was building its own observatory to house a 16" Cassegrain reflector. He later served many years on its committee - several of them as its chairman. During his forty years of astronomical activity Steve has encountered at first, second, and third hand many of the joys, pitfalls, and anxieties that astronomers of all shades face. His interest in astronomy and spaceflight has taken him all over the world - from the winter bleakness of northern Russia to the heat of northwestern Africa and the tropical wonders of Hawaii. Telescopically, his preferred targets are the Solar System planets, the Sun, and the Moon. He also has a keen interest in the history of astronomy. In addition to at one time editing his local group's monthly journal, he has written for both U. S. and UK astronomy magazines. Together with occasional features and reviews, he currently produces a monthly product column for Astronomy Now. There have also been occasional `blink and you'll miss it' interactions with TV and radio. Despite a long career in IT, his passion is astronomy and palaeontology (fossil collecting). Elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1984, he has written papers for the journals of both the BAA and the Royal Astronomical Society. With his wife and young son, he lives in a house chosen partly for its distance from sodium glow at night - a remoteness sadly decreasing with the passing years.


From the reviews: "Astronomers Anonymous is well worth buying, especially if you are going to be stuck on a transatlantic flight for eight hours! Steve has been writing entertaining stuff for decades and my first conscious recollection of a highly memorable Ringwood piece ... . For me, it was hard to put the book down, and even the most stone-faced reader should find something to amuse them." (Martin Mobberley, Astronomy Now, November, 2010) "Steve Ringwood's book is very entertaining and informative, and very unusual. ... Each request is given first, followed by a sharp and witty reply. These are followed by a serious, informative answer, again with wit and humour. Illustrations and drawings appear regularly. ... Another very good book from Springer, to be relished." (Richard Bailey, Popular Astronomy, January-February, 2011)

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