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NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe 3rd Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1552093023
ISBN-10: 1552093026
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The third edition of Nightwatch continues its tradition of being the best handbook for the beginning astronomer. Terence Dickinson covers all the problems beginners face, starting with the fact that the night sky does not look the way a modern city-dweller expects. He discusses light pollution, how to choose binoculars and telescopes, how to pronounce the names of stars and constellations, telescope mounts, averted vision, and why the harvest moon looks especially bright. Most of the lovely photographs in the book were taken by amateurs, which gives the section on astrophotography a particularly inspirational gleam.

Dickinson's star charts are very handy, each covering a reasonable field of view and mapping the most interesting amateur objects. He gives good advice for planet watching, which he notes "is one of the few astronomical activities that can be conducted almost as well from the city as from dark rural locations."

Altogether, the watchword for Nightwatch is indeed "practical"--this is a book to be used, not just read. Spiral-bound to lie flat or to fold back undamaged, it's a field guide that pulls its own weight in the field. Author Timothy Ferris says, "Like a good night sky, Nightwatch is clear and wind-free. Try it and see for yourself." --Mary Ellen Curtin

From School Library Journal

Grade 6 Up?This long-overdue update of a classic handbook for amateur astronomers combines a text both meaty and hard to put down with a great array of charts, boxes, tables, and dazzling full-color photos of the sky. Aiming this offering at new but serious hobbyists, Dickinson guides readers on a tour of the universe visible from any dark backyard, providing frank evaluations of many telescope models; specific advice for photographers; and a simple system for locating stars, constellations, nebulae, and other intriguing sights. Convenient charts track upcoming eclipses and the locations of the five planets visible to the naked eye (both through the year 2010). The author closes with lists of supplementary resources, including books, software, Web sites, and conventions. Dickinson's contagious enthusiasm and vast expertise earn this a place in reference and circulating collections of any size.?John Peters, New York Public Library
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Grade Level: 5 - 12
  • Spiral-bound: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Firefly Books; 3 edition (November 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1552093026
  • ISBN-13: 978-1552093023
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 11.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #712,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Spiral-bound
This book is outstanding for two people: parents that are considering buying a telescope for their children, and adults that have an interest in becoming an amateur astronomer. This book will allow both groups of people to learn more about not only the stars, planets, and our universe, but to make intelligent decisions on purchases of such things as telescopes, binoculars, software programs, or more reading material.
All too often a parent will buy the "blue light special" telescope for their children, yet the child is quickly frustrated with inferior optics, a wobbly stand, and no knowledge of what to look at and why. This book will allow those parents to grasp the basics of astronomy and therefore teach their children to appreciate the universe. Mr. Dickinson has presented material so that everyone can enjoy the night sky; whether viewed with a telescope, binoculars, or the naked eye.
For those older children or adults, this book will allow them to jump headfirst into astronomy as a lifelong enjoyment. If you want to have only a basic understanding of the celestial bodies, this book is more than enough. But in the last few pages, Mr. Dickinson tells you where to go to find greater resources to further knowledge. Because of his recommendations and my own research, I've acquired the following items that I would also like to recommend:
Sky Atlas 2000.
Read more ›
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Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
Having recently purchased a telescope, I've been reading lots of astronomy books. Even though this one is very basic, overall I've found it the most useful. No math, no equations, but tons of helpful advice that will have you up and finding stars right away. I like the fact that he emphasizes how much you can see with binocs too. The star charts are very helpful and are printed so that they can be read by a red light while you're out observing. Lots of great information on how to buy a telescope too. The bound version is perfect for carrying with you to find objects in the sky. Well written, easy to follow and informative -- if you only buy one book, this should be it (although I'd have to add my all time favorite, The Stars by H.A. Ray, the only book that draws the constellations so that they actually look like pictures).
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Format: Spiral-bound
This is perhaps the most important book you'll need to get started if you feel you're one of those people who have suddenly been captured by astronomy. The book sets out to answer all those questions that will inevitably flood your mind and does so in a way that is very easy to understand, complemented by a touch of inspiring poetry. It never gets too technical, yet the amazing wealth of information in there is never compromised.
Topic coverage is very broad and the depth of information I find is very satisfying. Chapters include the structure of the universe, stargazing, a detailed guide to selecting and purchasing equipment, the stars, the planets, the moon and sun, solar and lunar eclipses, comets, meteors, auroras and even how to photograph the night sky.
The book is further enriched by an abundance of backgrounders, star charts, tables, breathtaking images and excellent diagrams explaining things like measuring degrees with your hand and how to use the constellations to find other stars. Important stars and constellations are treated like individual personalities as a lot of the associated data such as distances are put into perspective.
Nightwatch is a clearly focused book. Rich in information, and down to earth with its content, it will satisfy the budding backyard astronomer's need to appreciate what's out there and how to enjoy it.
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Format: Spiral-bound
Terence Dickinson's "Nightwatch" is a practical all-around guide to amateur astronomy. Spiralbound for outdoor and easier use, and packed with colorful pictures, charts and skymaps, the book gives the reader all the help needed to become a first class amateur astronomer. Wonderfully written with chapters on the Sun, the moon, the planets and the motions of the sky, the constellations and the stars, comets, meteors, eclipses and auroras, stargazing equipment and photographing the nightsky this revised and updated edition is expanded for use through the year 2010, and contains also a chapter on resources covering astronomy magazines, books, software, clubs, conventions and useful websites as well as information on observatories and leading manufacturers of astronomical telescopes and binoculars. An acomplished astronomer himself and the author of 14 books, with "Nightwatch" Dickinson has crafted one of the best astronomy field guides available today. A superb book!
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Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
I was discouraged at an early age by the books on practical, observational astronomy for the amateur. Most of them contained star charts that were a mass of confusion, and the printed information was hardly any more helpful. When a friend and I decided to take a beginning observational astronomy course, I was doubtful, but Dickinson's volume is much more lucidly written and his charts are designed for the beginner. I was able to find the planets Venus, Mars and Jupitor on a casual night time walk with my Great Dane and was absolutely thrilled. Just as told, the planets were clearly visible despite the city lights. Although I have been able to identify the big dipper since childhood, finding other named heavenly bodies was something I hadn't believed myself capable until trying it with this book. Both my friend and I have enjoyed the experience. She says she wishes she'd known about it when her "kids" were still kids! Speaking of which, the book also has VERY important information for the prospective purchaser of a telescope, a must read especially for those looking to buy a gift for the amateur astronomer in their family. This would make a fun family book for those who enjoy doing special things with the kids.
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