Friday, April 30, 2021

Book Review - National Geographic’s Backyard Guide To The Night Sky

My Review

Backyard Guide to the Night Sky from National Geographic (author Andrew Fazekas) is a unique guide to stargazing for absolute beginners.

I was interested in reading this book because I loved stargazing as a little girl. We had a telescope that we used in the backyard, and my favorite annual school field trips were to the planetarium. I even had a big star map on my bedroom wall! I never studied astronomy in high school or college, so I consider myself a real "newbie" stargazer.

This is a lovely book. It's small enough to carry outside but it's so nicely made, full of beautiful color photos, charts, diagrams, and little sidebar information tidbits.

I love that the book suggests starting by just looking at the sky at night with your eyes - no fancy equipment:

"Exploring that universe requires nothing more than a walk outside and an open sky. The naked eye remains the most important piece of gear, and a focus on easily seen objects is the best way to build a foundation. Your first tasks as a sky-watcher may appear simple, but they will reveal much. Study the phases of the moon, track the motion of the stars and planets over weeks and months, and learn to recognize a handful of the brightest constellations visible in each season. Such observation will show you how the heavens work and allow you to build an appreciation for the fainter, more distant wonders you will discover later" (p. 11).

The book has an interesting focus on following the seasons, since as earth orbits the sun, constellations and our glimpse of the sky changes nightly. There are large sections in the latter half of the book focusing on the different seasons. I found them fascinating! For instance, Spring features Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Leo the Lion, Virgo the Virgin, Cancer the Crab, Canes Venatici: The Hunting Dogs, etc.

I live in a city where there is often smog that obscures the stars. There is a useful chapter on skywatching in the city, with great tips on how to see the stars despite light pollution.

I have always been interested in the phases of the moon and found the chapter on Lunar Movements, with night by night illustrations of the moon from waxing crescent up to full moon and down to waning crescent.

There is a short chapter on exploration of the moon. As someone who grew up as a child watching the space program, I wish this chapter had been longer, with more details about the different landing missions.

There is also a section on annual showers with annual dates of meteor showers. I always want to see these and never knew when to look for them. This is so helpful and interesting!

I stayed up at night enjoying this book and peeking out at the sky. I recommend Backyard Guide to the Night Sky for anyone interested in stargazing. It's a perfect introduction to the wonders of the evening sky!

Book Synopsis

Explore the star-studded cosmos with this fully updated, user-friendly skywatcher’s guide, filled with charts, graphics, photographs, and expert tips for viewing — and understanding — the wonders of space.

Stargazing’s too much fun to leave to astronomers. In these inviting pages, “Night Sky Guy” Andrew Fazekas takes an expert but easygoing approach that will delight would-be astronomers of all levels. Essential information, organized logically, brings the solar system, stars, and planets to life in your own backyard. Start with the easiest constellations and then “star-hop” across the night sky to find others nearby. Learn about the dark side of the moon, how to pick Mars out of a planetary lineup, and which kinds of stars twinkle in your favorite constellations. Hands-on tips and techniques for observing with the naked eye, binoculars, or a telescope help make the most out of sightings and astronomical phenomena such as eclipses and meteor showers. Photographs and graphics present key facts in an easy-to-understand format, explaining heavenly phenomena such as black holes, solar flares, and supernovas. Revised to make skywatching even easier for the whole family, this indispensable guide shines light on the night sky–truly one of the greatest shows on Earth!

Purchase Links

National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


1 comment:

Sara Strand said...

Thank you for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours