49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2000
The Audubon Society Field Guide to the Night Sky has been for many years one of the best guides to the night sky. With hundreds of full color photographs of our solar system, the constellations as viewed with the unaided eyes, meteors, comets and other wonders of the sky this Field Guide is easy to use (it has a section on how to do it) and provides lots of information for the beginner astronomer, the casual observer, the more advanced amateurs or anyone interested in astronomy. As it is written on the Introduction, the aim of the book is to depict the objects of the night sky visible to binoculars, the unaided eye or small telescopes. Its small format and dew resistant cover make the Guide a perfect companion outdoors and the locating monthly charts are a real help in order to find the way through the stars. I own a 1992 Edition of this Field Guide and I still use it a lot. Later editions come with updated planetary posisitons and longitude tables along with the Messier Catalog list, periodic comet and major meteor shower tables and other useful data indicating past, present and future astronomical events. Definitively, this Guide is the first among the best of its kind!
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
I'm not astronomer, but I can tell that the volume of information in this guide would impress even a hardcore stargazer. The book includes exhaustively detailed descriptions of all notable phenomena visible with a telescope, lists the entire Messier Catalog with descriptions of each item, has comprehensive starcharts meticulously organized by date, and has a description of all the major star constellations. There is also an in-depth analysis of the solar system and a complete scientific background on all the terminology.
A layman reading this guide will come away with enough information to at least sound like an expert on the night sky. There are even some sections on speculative astronomy, such as the nature of black holes and the Big Bang theory. If you are at all interested in astronomy, this is THE guide to get. It will serve as an invaluable counterpart to your telescope, and makes fascinating reading any time. As far as I have seen, there isn't a published guide to compare with this one.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2013
As many have already said, this is the gold standard general astronomical reference. The book comes with many plates showing the night sky throughout the seasons, plates for all 88 constellations, a good map of the Moon, and some older astrophotos.
To me, the real value in the book is the collection of writeups covering both the solar system and the individual constellations. The constellation entries are a treasure trove of information containing the history of how the constellations' outlines were formed, as well as technical information on the stars, nebulae, clusters and galaxies within. The book magnificently breaks up the sky into manageable chunks for study.
***However, there is a big problem with this field guide, namely that it has gone too long without a major re-edit.*** Much of the information in the appendix covers planetary longitudes, eclipses, etc., and this changes from year to year. The edition being sold today covers 2008-2015. It's mid-2013 and I'm rather miffed that in 2 1/2 years the book will not be useful for these purposes. Yes, the information is on the internet, but try loading the internet from a dark sky location in the middle of nowhere.
Other changeable information is out of date. In the book, Jupiter has 17 moons. I just checked the internet, and the current count is 49. That's about 20 years out of date. Also, most of the photo plates were taken 25 years ago with film, which is fine, but there are dazzling Hubble photos with free licenses that would make great replacements. Use them!
So, once Knopf gets off their rear and edits this book, it will again be the premiere astronomical field reference.
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2000
I was looking for a different Astronomy Field Guide and didn't find it - BOY am I glad. Instead I found and purchased this gem, and am very pleased with it. I'm quite the amateur. I wanted to learn more, and to get a good guide to help me find all the Messier objects, NGCs, and others. I also wanted to learn about them. This book has it all - including 136 Sky Charts, Color photos of the Messier Objects (and bunches of others), In Depth Discussion and Descriptions of the Constellations and thier contents (including all the M. objects and many, many NGC objects), Solar System in depth guides, moon photos and guide, and more. Whether using your eyes, a binocular or an 8" telescope, this book will help you to go right to the object of your choice. A handy field guide, yet as readable as a good novel.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 1999
If you are going to get one astronomy book get 'The National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Night Sky'. This book has monthly star charts, moon maps, definitions of objects in space, and gives information about our planets. Did you ever want to know how far Betelgeuse is from earth, why do 12 constellations make up the Zodiac, or how to find M13 in the sky? This is the book for you.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2001
This is one of those books that is somehow packed with meaningful facts but a joy to read. There's also an edition of this that is narrow and has a plastic blue cover -- perfect for sky parties. The sci-fi in me drives me to add: If civilization ceased to exist, I'd want future generations to benefit from this book.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2003
One of my favorite books on the bookshelf, simply because of its easy-to-read format, and information for both the amateur stargazer and serious astronomer. The book covers everything that the curiousity seeker is looking for, with an exhaustive selection of sky charts for each month, a detailed section featuring each constellation with its history and details, and an exciting tour of the solar system and its celestial denizens.
Plenty of information, and just the right amount of photographs, too. A handy guide for everyone curious about the world "up there"!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
For those who remain spellbound by the canopy of night with all the beauty and mythology and mystery gazing at the stars brings to mind, this book is a godsend. Without requiring previous courses in astronomy and without spending hours cross referencing words to match constellations to match positions to match meanings, this book comfortably and beautifully offers maps and photographs, essays and information that make looking heavenward all the more exciting. The writing is accurate, updated, understandable to the novice, and makes a terrific companion to seeking answers and directions to the stars and the planets. A valuable aide to your appreciation of the universe! Grady Harp, December 2004
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2005
If you're interested in studying the night sky by eye, this is an awesome guide. The explanations are clear, the charts are great, and the background material is interesting. It will tell you what you can see up there, how to find it, and when you'll be able to see it, which was exactly what I was looking for. This book has everything you need to appreciate your backyard view more fully.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2013
Having relatively no background in astronomy I found this field guide extremely easy to use. The beginning section gets you acquainted with most of the concepts in simple language. It covers the universe, our solar system, systems of measurement, astronomical names, constellations, instruments (binoculars, telescopes, etc.) and a short section on observing the sky. After that there is a large section of "color plates" which is a collection of photos of astronomical objects (very cool to thumb through when you're bored), maps of the moon, monthly maps of the night sky, and detailed maps of the major constellations and what lies inside of them.
The monthly maps are really nice for someone with no background. They're very easy to read compared to more "professional" maps. After spending about an hour in a dark spot I was easily picking out constellations. They cover the night sky at 35 degrees North on the 15th of each month at 9pm standard time. Any deviation from the date or time can easily be interpolated. For example, the book advises that a two hour difference in time would equal about a one month difference in date. These maps will easily get you familiar with the night sky, but I'd recommend picking up a more detailed book after a while, such as Norton's Sky Atlas.
After the "color plates" section, there is a section of monthly sky tours which lists what objects are best to look at during any given month, and after that the rest of the book lists general reference stuff such as detailed information about the planets and constellations, and lists such as Moon phases, the Messier Catalog, etc.
Just a word of warning, this guide was published in 1999, so a few things that I know of are out of date. For example, Pluto is still listed as a planet. Also, some of the reference lists like the moon phases only go up to 2015. Not a huge deal, but worth mentioning.
In short: highly recommended. If you're just getting into astronomy you should definitely buy this book, a small red LED flashlight, head out to a dark area and have fun. The optics can come later.