First conceived around 1981, the first edition of Classical Novae was published in 1989, after rather a long gestation period. This was at a time when the International Ultraviolet Explorer observatory was still going strong, the Hubble Space Telescope and the ROSAT X-ray observatory still lay in the future, and observatories that are now delivering data of stunning quality, such as Chandra, XMM and Spitzer, were still on the drawing board. Despite the comment in the preface to the first edition 'had we kept to our original schedule the book would have become dated rather quickly', Classical Novae dated very quickly, as was inevitable.
We had toyed with the idea of a second edition for some time. It was clear that tinkering at the edges of the first edition would not do: so much had changed since the publication of what we began to refer to as 'CNI'. There were of course the inevitable advances in the quality and nature of the observations' over the entire electromagnetic spectrum, and in our theoretical understanding of the classical nova phenomenon as computing power grew. However, there was also the advent of the NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS), and the facility to prepare a finding chart at the click of a mouse button (R. A. Downes & M. M. Shara 1989, PASP105, 127): who could have foreseen this when CNI was being compiled? The latter two rendered the Data on Novae chapter of the first edition completely obsolete. There was no alternative but to start what inevitably became known as 'CNII' effectively with a clean sheet.
The catalyst for reinvigorating our enthusiasm for the second edition was the highly successful Classical Nova Explosions meeting, held at Sitges, Catalonia, Spain, in May 2002 (M. Hernanz & J. Jose, eds., American Institute of Physics Conference Proceedings, Vol. 637, New York: Melville). This gave us the opportunity to corner several potential authors and invite them to contribute. Even so at least 18 months passed before we were able to negotiate our release from Wiley and to enter discussions with Cambridge University Press.
On the whole the content of CNII differs from that of CNI, and much has changed in this edition (not least the wanderlust of editors). However, several of the authors who contributed to the first edition have also been persuaded to contribute to the second, and the general mix of observation and theory is retained. As far as possible the notation used in the first edition is carried over into the second edition.
We take this opportunity of thanking the authors for their contributions and their willingness to take on board comments and suggestions from the editors, Jacqueline Garget, Vince Higgs, Dawn Preston, and Lindsay Nightingale of Cambridge University Press, and Suresh Kumar and Johnny Sebastian of TEX support, for their advice and support; and the officers of J. Wiley & Sons for releasing us and the contributors to CNI from our obligations with them.
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