If it wasn't for the fact that this work is such an exhaustive expression of observational material, and partially devoted to users of larger telescopes, it would most certainly be placed on the Belmont Society's "Required Reading List". As it is, these two wonderful volumes of information are both extraordinarily useful and educationally priceless for intermediate beginners and the advanced amateur. It is mostly "tilted" at users of larger scopes, but those of us who have an interest in small and medium-sized instruments will greatly appreciate its enormous cache of useful information - i.e.: just double stars alone, to cite an example.
By itself, the data is worth the price of admission. But the foundational text is a bottomless well from which to draw buckets of valuable knowledge about all the known types of deep space objects. This information is compiled in an ideal arrangement, and is laid out in logical and sensible format. Explanations and informative text are among the finest we've ever seen. The sheer quantity of information, along with an exemplary written style gives the impression that this work was composed by scores of eminent astrophysicists and astronomers, all contributing within the realms of their individual specialties, and then edited by a single omnipotent director. And sure enough, there is a lengthy acknowledgment to the contributors, the roster of which is very extensive, and the complexion of which is almost exclusively amateur.
The work is divided into two volumes or seasonal groups - Volume #1 is dedicated to Fall and Winter constellations, and #2 consists of Spring and Summer. Each volume is divided into segments, which present its constellations in alphabetical order. Each constellation begins with an impressively detailed list of double stars. Then there are the deep sky objects - dark nebulae, emission nebulae, globulars, galaxies, etc. Each individual object is given a description and a graphic rating (5 stars for the very best, and so on) with notes that justify its rank. Additionally, objects are listed in chart form by type as well. Sad to say, objects below a minimal southern latitude are not included.
For the most part, object descriptions are presented as seen with apertures between 8 and 12 inches (and larger). Roughly 30 percent of the observations are described as seen with smaller apertures, and some binocular objects are listed as well. As mentioned, the double star listings are superbly done. There are over 2,100 worthy examples of these. This list is among the most detailed we've ever seen.
These are a pair of really big books! There's an interesting but typical reaction displayed upon seeing one close-up for the first time. They dwarf the average encyclopedia edition (remember those?). They are even bigger than the law books you see behind the District Attorney's desk on a TV serial. And we appreciate the hard glossy cover with no separate jacket to rip or lose. They aren't cheap books either. It would seem practical for the amateur on a budget to acquire them separately.
Kepple and Sanner are amateur astronomers who've created a magnificent work, worthy of commendation reserved for meritorious professionals. The magnitude of their efforts is astonishing, even considering that all of it was pieced together from smaller works that they themselves authored quite some time ago. We are so impressed with the quality of this work, that we've given it "Honorable Mention" status on the Belmont Society's "Required Reading" list. The only reason it didn't make the main list is because many amateurs do not have access to, or are deprived of the opportunity or the means to use larger aperture telescopes.
Very highly recommended.