Monday, February 14, 2011

The Night Sky: Month by Month by Will Gater and Giles Sparrow

The Night Sky: Month by Month is a year-round guide to the night sky. It's divided into three sections: Introduction, Monthly Sky Guides, Almanac. The introduction shows Earth in the Universe and shows how and why the night sky changes. The main part of the book is the Monthly Sky Guides section, which features monthly star charts to viewing the night time sky as well as information on what to look for. There are separate charts for both the northern and southern latitudes. The almanac is presented in calendar form, which lists the major celestial events from 2011-2019.

I really enjoyed this book. It's well laid out and very informative. The meat of the book, the sky guides, lay out the constellations at different times of the year. It starts off with a really good explanation of how to use this part of the book. The guides themselves are large enough to read easily, but not too large to make holding the book for longs periods of time difficult. I learned that Orion, my favourite constellation, is best seen in my area in January. I always wondered about that. Why couldn't it be visible in June when the weather is a lot nicer and I don't have to stand outside when it's -30ÂșC? I think it's time to find another favourite. I'm thinking Hercules. It's best visible in the summer time and I already have an idea of what it looks like.

I especially liked the almanac's calendar design. It's visually appealing and very easy to understand. I laughed out loud at myself when I realized that moon phases, lunar eclipses, solar eclipses and planet alignments can be calculated far in advance and not just something that is stumbled upon weeks before hand. Yes, I have a *lot* to learn when it comes to astronomy.

My one minor complaint is that the photographs, while plentiful and stunning, are rather small. I'm sure that's to make room for the large format star charts/sky guides.

New words:
• asterism - a recognizable pattern of stars, where the stars are either a part of a constellation or are members of several constellations. An example is the Big Dipper in Ursa Major. (from the glossary)
• annular eclipse - This term was new to me. I've heard of partial eclipses and total eclipses, but not annular eclipses. I got the following definition from an eclipse of the sun in which the moon does not cover the entire disc of the sun, so that a ring of sunlight surrounds the shadow of the moon.

The book contains a decent table of contents. It lists numerous entries for each section (especially the sky guides) so it should be easy enough to find any item. The glossary contains concise definitions for some of the terms used in astronomy. This is especially useful for someone like me. The index is also pretty good. I looked up a few items and found everything I was looking for.


For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the DK website.

For more information about the author, please visit Will Gater's website.

I'd like to thank Chris at DK Canada for this review copy.

The Night Sky: Month by Month by Will Gater and Giles Sparrow, Dorling Kindersley (DK), ©2011. ISBN 9780756671488(Hardcover), 128p.

1 comment:

  1. That looks like a great book. I haven't used my telescope in years ... perhaps time to take it outside.


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