Wonders of the Night Sky You Must See Before You Die
Bob King Page Street Publishing £17.99 ● PB
To a beginner, the night sky can seem like a daunting place and it’s all too easy to feel overwhelmed. This book, written by experienced astronomer and blogger Bob King, provides a clear guide to a wide range of the most interesting objects that are easily accessible either by naked eye, binoculars or a small telescope. It’s structured around a ‘bucket list’ of 57 night-time wonders (natural and man-made) chosen by the author, who explains the visual and scientific interest of each and gives advice on how best to view it.
King’s writing is friendly and assured and his expertise shines as brightly as the full Moon. Around half of the list are bodies within the Solar System, but the range extends from the International Space Station out to the galaxy group M81/M82.
The book is aimed at an American audience, so British readers will find it trickier to see some of the listed objects that are only visible here during our short summer nights or from more southern latitudes. The epilogue is a touching tribute to King’s pet dog, whose insistence on being walked at night led to the author discovering so many astronomical sights and musing on the nature of canine time versus cosmological time.
Of course, any bucket list is subjective, but this one showcases objects that present a variety of astronomical phenomena and is persuasive in its enthusiasm.