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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Book Review: The Stargazer’s Guide to the Night Sky by Jason Lisle


The Stargazer’s Guide to the Night Sky by Dr. Jason Lisle
ISBN: 9780890516416
Hardcover, 240 pages
Publisher: Master Books
Retail: $34.99

If you have ever looked up into the night sky and wanted to know more about what you are seeing, this book might be for you…I say ‘might’ because it is a little intimidating!

This book has great images and photographs but it sure has a lot of words. It is not a ‘picture book’. I did not say that was a bad thing! But it is overwhelming at times if one doesn’t know much (or really anything) about astronomy. That would be me. I’d recently reviewed a homeschool ebook that was specifically geared toward astronomy during specific months of the year and I really appreciated that particular resource. It is what drove me to request this book for review. Not all astronomy books are created equally user friendly.

The book has an introduction, 12 chapters, an afterward and index. Here are the chapter titles:

  1. Motions in the Sky- Basic
  2. Motions in the Sky- Advanced
  3. Understanding the Eye
  4. Astronomy with the Unaided Eye
  5. Celestial Events
  6. Telescope Basics
  7. Telescope Observing Sessions
  8. The Moon and the Sun
  9. The Planets
  10. Star Classification and Telescope Viewing
  11. Deep Sky Objects
  12. Astrophotography

The images and photographs are quite impressive. With the many sky labeled diagrams (which I am hard pressed to say aren’t actual photographs) it is quite easy to step outside at night and point out different constellations. But if it were just based on the first chapter, I probably wouldn’t read it any further. I was confused by much of what was written (he talks about figuring out what time it is by the position of sun, moon and stars based on the knowledge of the time it takes the Earth to rotate). If you get this book, or might be thinking about getting it, don’t stop at the first chapter. I skimmed through the second chapter which is more of the first chapter only advanced (if I didn’t get the basic, I wasn’t going to chance the advanced). I have not read the entire book (but have skimmed most of it numerous times).

My kids like the book- to look at. Neither have taken the time to actually read much of it. It is intimidating. But it has a lot of information in this book.Since I am not very versed in astronomy, I couldn’t tell if this is a good astronomy book or not. This isn’t a book that I would just pick up to ‘read’- to look at definitely; to find when/where a certain constellation or eclipse is best viewed from, you bet. Perhaps we will use it for the spine of an astronomy class in the coming years. It appears to be a solid book on the topic.

I received this book from New Leaf Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was given. All opinions stated are my own or those of my family. See Disclosure/Policies.

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