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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 1998
I was disappointed with this book for two reasons. I wanted help locating the planets, but the 50th anniversary edition is obsolete. The book contains charts showing which constellations the planets could be found in for 1992 -- 1997, but I bought the book in 1998! The charts also don't include Uranus and Neptune. These two shortcomings limit the value of this book for anyone who uses it, but primarily for the beginning amateur astronomer who might not have enough interest to seek another source.
I did find the star charts to be very easy to use on my first-ever attempt to use a star chart to find constellations. For about an hour, I preferred these charts to the more conventional (and more cluttered) monthly charts from Sky & Telescope Magazine. I quickly learned to appreciate the extra detail in the magazine's chart and felt as if I had "graduated" to a "real" star chart. Perhaps, if I were younger, I would feel differently.
I appreciated s! ome of the other aspects of the book. It has a very understandable description of star magnitude and brightness ratio. It also has an interesting section on Meteors. I also enjoyed the brief history of ancient star maps and the origins of the constellation names.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2003
My tattered copy sitting on the shelf as I write this attests to it's value. I'm no major astronomer in any sense of the word, but a major part of what I DO know about the night sky was gleaned from its pages. It is what the title suggests: "For Beginners". It refrains from being too technical, the charts for the months of the year are easy to understand and use, and it's ar less expensive than other books of its kind. If your wish is to begin a hobby in astronomy, or better yet, if you simply are curious as to how to find your way around the night sky, this is a wonderful place to start. You will amaze yourself with what you'll know after only a few nights with this book. However, please note how up-to-date your copy is when buying it here or elsewhere. Hopefully, it will be as much a joy to you as it has been for me these past six years.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 1999
It's true, it doesn't show where the planets are but for identifying constellations and stars, any time from about 6 pm to about 5 am, you can't beat this book. I write a What's Up In the Sky weekly column and I'd be lost without this book. It gives basic information, delineates the differences in the seasons, skywise, and throws in some mythology also. The chart, telling which sky map corresponds to the time of night is invalueable. I can't imagine looking at the sky without this book.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2002
I'll echo the comments of the reviewers below. I've looked at many books of star maps and I've written articles on the night sky for local newspapers. This book is by far the best - it's easy to use and the constellations are depicted just as they appear in the sky - without a lot of confusing, unnecessary additions. The accompanying essays are informative, entertaining and easy to understand.
It's a huge shame that this book evidently has not been updated in 10 years. So, yes, the planet information is out-of-date. (But before you learn to find planets you first need to learn to identify constellations and bright stars - that's where Star Maps for Beginners outshines all the others.)
I, too, have given away countless copies of this book. It's great for almost all ages. (Well, let's say for a bright 10-year-old and up.) I'm buying it again as a gift for someone who sells telescopes for a living. He never heard of it and he doesn't know what he's missing.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 1999
I'd be hard pressed to say how many copies of this book I have given away. Unlike most other star guides, this book gives clear, easy-to-follow maps and directions for finding stars and planets. A separate star map is provided for each month of the year. Just turn to the month you are looking at stars in and in no time, you can identify what you are looking at.
The historical and mythical background given on constellations is excellent also.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2007
My son loved this book of constellations. They were easy to read and had good information.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2008
When you compare this book to the 2-sided PLANISPHERE,the book is almost useless.Go with a planisphere and or a software such as "Galileo Planetarium",(Complete Guide TO The Cosmos Ver.1.8).A planisphere will track by the month and the hour.A software will include the planets.New comers should be careful to order a planisphere within the latitude of their location.

I myself would not have bought this book if I had fliped through it in a book store.I expected more.The knowledge is better than nothing,but you can do much better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2011
This a excellent book to buy if you are just starting to look at the sky at night. It has monthly maps and descriptions of what you will see in the United States. It also has some extra's like how to see comets, meteor showers. It also describes constellations and what month they appear. This book can be used with a small telescope, binoculars and the naked eye.
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on March 9, 2012
I came to purchase another copy on amazon and I noticed some of the reviews. I thought I would add a little since I think highly of this book. I bought my first copy back in the dark ages in a bookstore when the internet basically didn't exist. I used this book so much at the beginning. It is by far the easiest book I have ever used for learning the constellations. The charts, for me, are much easier to read than other star charts. It is true that the planet charts have expired but don't let that stop you from getting this. First, is it SO easy to look up on the internet what constellation the planets are in at any given time. Second, there are only 4 planets that you can really see with the naked eye and they are always located in the same path through the sky and this book identifies that for you. Third, the planets are so bright compared to most stars (especially in town) that once you find and are able to recognize a planet you will rarely mistake it for a star again. When I first purchased this book I too thought that I would need to buy another edition in a few years when the planet charts ran out. No new edition came. Then I couldn't find it in bookstore as readily as the years passed and the internet was still in the beginning expansion phase. I started getting worried I wouldn't be able to replace this book which has traveled all around the country with me on camping trips. I started making photocopies of the charts and just taking those. That is how much I like this book. Fortunately it is easy to get them now :)There is a lot more information out there and it is possible to outgrow this book somewhat. I use other resources now to expand my knowledge but I still come back to this book over and over again and it is the only thing I ever take with me when I go out to look at stars because it is so simple and easy. A lot of other books or sets are not easy to stick in a backpack or use while you are sitting on your lawn. Now my children use it and again it is BY FAR the best for beginners! If you actually pick this book up and use it I think you'll find that for $6 or $7 it was a good investment even if you do eventually need to supplement.
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This book was my early guide to the stars - I got a copy when I was about 10 or so (an older edition) and eventually the cover came off because I spent so much time with it. I have the later edition (and yes, it's out of date, sort of) and look at it often even now, 30 years later. I'm sure there are all kinds of errors and out of date things in this book, but it's still one of the best references and introductions you'll find. When it was written I think it was made for an 10-12 year-old audience, but I find it fun to read and use today.

Not only does it have information about basics, but it tells some of the stories of the constellations and the history of discovery. That was the most interesting part of the book for me, and it helped me remember what I was reading.

If you have a budding stargazer in the house I encourage you to have this book ready for them. This ranks up there with H.A. Rey's "The Stars" and Peterson's Field Guide as important books for starting a journey in astronomy at any age.
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