Won­ders of the Night Sky You Must See Be­fore You Die

Bob King Page Street Pub­lish­ing £17.99 ● PB

Sky at Night Magazine - - BOOK REVIEWS - PIPPA GOLD­SCHMIDT is an as­tron­omy and science writer

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.


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