Rad­mila Topalovic and Tom Kerss HarperColl­ins £9.99 PB

Sky at Night Magazine - - BOOKS REVIEWS -

Given this book’s ti­tle, you might ex­pect the con­tents to be lim­ited to the ac­tiv­ity of stargaz­ing it­self, but this guide of­fers much more than that. The book opens with an in­tro­duc­tion to the night sky, its ob­jects and its phe­nom­ena, in which the au­thors present an enor­mous amount of valu­able in­for­ma­tion, al­beit tersely be­cause of the space avail­able. Un­for­tu­nately, a few nig­gles have crept in here: it of­fers the eas­ily re­futed ‘fore­ground ob­ject com­par­i­son’ ex­pla­na­tion of the Moon il­lu­sion and sug­gests that averted vi­sion is used “to overcome the blind spot”. It gives ‘mi­nor planet’ and ‘as­teroid’ as sep­a­rate clas­si­fi­ca­tions; per­haps the IAU ob­ject clas­si­fi­ca­tions would have been more ad­vis­able.

The real strength of this book is its sec­tions on ob­serv­ing. These range from choos­ing your ob­serv­ing site, through naked-eye stargaz­ing to the use of binoc­u­lars, tele­scopes and cam­eras. You are shown, with the aid of charts, how to ob­serve any­thing from nearby satel­lites to dis­tant gal­ax­ies. The ob­ject sug­ges­tions in­clude a good va­ri­ety of both easy and chal­leng­ing tar­gets for north­ern and south­ern hemi­sphere ob­servers.

But while the colour­ful pho­to­graphic il­lus­tra­tions of neb­u­lae are at­trac­tive, they may be mis­lead­ing to begin­ners, since the eye can­not in­te­grate light as the cam­era does and, with few ex­cep­tions, we see deep­sky ob­jects in mono­chrome. The same ap­plies to the im­pli­ca­tion that binoc­u­lars will show the pink star-form­ing re­gions of NGC 2403 – a spi­ral gal­axy.

Jam-packed with use­ful in­for­ma­tion and ad­vice, this is an at­trac­tively pro­duced re­source for mod­ern be­gin­ner stargaz­ers.

STEPHEN TONKIN is an ex­pe­ri­enced as­tronomer and writes our binoc­u­lar tour

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