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Starlight Nights: The Adventures of a Star-Gazer Paperback – May 1, 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Sky Publishing; 2 edition (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0933346948
  • ISBN-13: 978-0933346949
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,678,113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By John Rummel on July 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
"A hymn to the sky" -Levy. To me, no book more beautifully captures the spirit of amateur astronomy that Peltier's Starlight Nights. I first read this book several years ago and still remember marveling at Peltier's intensely personal autobiography. In writing of his childhood in Delphos, Ohio, he spares few details of life on the early 1900's farm, and we wait spellbound with him as he orders his first telescope after catching the astronomy bug as a young teenager. We breathlessly await the partial eclipse of 1918 (the teenaged Leslie lacked the funds to travel the 500 miles necessary to see totality in the US's first total eclipse of the century), and are swept away again that very night as he was one of the first to note the spectacular Nova Aquila as it rose to a stunning -1.4 mag.
Peltier's descriptions of his experiences are as elegant as they are simple. His deep respect and admiration for nature are woven into every page, not only for things astronomical, but terrestrial as well, for he was a naturalist of varied interests.
This reissue comes with a new foreword by David Levy, as well as several rare photographs (on the cover and back, as well as a few in the foreword) of Peltier, his early telescopes and homes. If you are familiar with this book, take this opportunity to read it again. If you've never read it before, set aside a long evening - you won't put it down after you start.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Wes Edens on January 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
Remember those movies where an old man tells his story in the form of a flashback? The kind that makes you wish you could go back in time to hang out with them, experience their life? Starlight Nights is one of those stories.
Leslie Peltier's book is full of warmth and humor. He takes us back to a 1905 farm and describes what it was like to grow up without electricity, television. The beginning of his story predates the spread of the automobile. We watch as he buys a small telescope, and without the benefit of a college education, becomes the friend and colleague of the eminent astronomers of his day. We experience the thrill of finding comets and novae, and at the same time, the quiet joy of country life a century ago.
The book is wonderfully illustrated by Mr. Peltier himself, and the introduction includes family photographs.
Absolutely recommended for everyone, not just stargazers.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is a jem. The author would likely fail to recognize the world of 2002, and would certainly be horrified to awake in it.
He lived, really lived, in an earlier era when discovery of a new comet by an amateur simply looking through a telescope, without the CCDs and other fancy technology, was celebrated, and civilization grew at a pleasant pace in the midwest where he lived, away from the hustle, rush hours, and UN crisis. His humility in accepting the gifts of slowly increasing aperture telescopes and the way in which alone, he found good ways to use them to their best are balm to the soul.
Get a copy of this little book, turn off the TV and computer and regress to Peltier's world of worthwhile ways of spending your time while seeing the universe. Fortunately, you don't really have to wait weeks to get a copy if you'll dial up Sky and Telescope.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By on April 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is one of my all time favorite books. It is the autobiography of Leslie Peltier, a legendary amateur astronomer. It tells the story of him growing up in the midwest and his interest in nature. This eventually led to him becoming an amateur astronomer, discovering several comets (which bear his name), and performing variable star observing and recording for the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO).
His writing style shows his early 20th century, midwest upbringing and at times is simply poetic.
I've read this book at least 4 times and each time brings a calm and inspiration not common in todays world.
I very highly recommend this book to anyone interseted in astronomy, nature or an escape from modern day chaos.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By George A. Reynolds on January 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
Starlight Nights: The Adventures of a Stargazer by Leslie Peltier is a wonderful book, which embodies the heart and soul of stargazing. It was out of print for many years, but has been republished by Sky Publishing, and is available through Amazon and through the Sky & Telescope Store online. I obtained a copy last year and read it. Once started, I couldn't put it down.

Peltier begins when, as a child of five, he first saw the Pleiades. As a young teenager he saved up his money and bought his first scope, made his own observing pier in the pasture, and hung out every night learning the night sky. The book covers about 60 years in Peltier's life, including his stargazing honeymoon out west. He observed every night he could, undeterred by cows in the field or snow on the ground.

He became an avid variable-star observer and a comet hunter. He tells the story of bicycling into town on a dark November night in 1925 to telegraph his first comet discovery to Harvard College Observatory. One of his early telescopes, a six-inch refractor, had a wooden (mahogany) tube. When he found each comet he neatly carved the date in the tube of the telescope.

Over the years he built his own observatories, and obtained castoff FAMOUS telescopes (a twelve-inch refractor made by Alvan Clark), when Miami University of Ohio, 125 miles from his home, wanted to upgrade theirs. He became famous among astronomers, but always lived a simple life, shunning publicity, and not straying far from the family homestead in Delphos, Ohio. Leslie Peltier was a gentle soul, self-effacing and honest, and "real". He writes as if he were talking to a friend, telling a favorite story.

This book captures the romance of amateur astronomy. Peltier embodied the "heart and soul" of a stargazer. As David Levy says in his foreword, this book explains the "why" of astronomy, and not just the "how".

It's a book every stargazer should read.
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