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The Stars Paperback – October 27, 2008
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This is my all-time favorite book from my youth. I have many, many memeories of me and my dad spending hours up on the roof at night, looking at this book through our red-painted flashlight, naming the stars and tracing the constellations. We did this at least once a week for several years, during all seasons. Even to this day, almost 40 years later, I look up in the sky and immediately see old and comforting friends that haven't changed since then. And I feel like I know where I am.
Then during college, I took a photocopy of the book to Kenya, where I lived for a semester in the bush. This time, Kenya being on the equator, I had the pleasure of meeting new friends; the constellations of the Southern Hemisphere. Way cool.
I have given this book as a gift to friends, children of friends, just about anyone who I have seen glancing into the nightime sky.
So now I just bought myself a brand new copy; I'm going to Sri Lanka to help with disaster relief and, alas, my original cloth-bound hardcover 1962 edition is just to old to make the journey with me. However, I am very eager to re-aquaint myself with those friends I first made back in the African sky.Read more ›
Rey's method of teaching Astronomy is to keep things as simple and basic as possible. If all you want to do is recognize the constellations in the sky and know when to see them, then you read the first three chapters. If you want to learn a bit more about celestial mechanics, then you read further. You learn as much as you want to. Rey's outlines of the constellations are innovative in that that really LOOK like what the constellations are supposed to represent. The first time I used this book to find constellations (at age eight) I was able to pick out a few even in the light polluted skies of the SF Bay Area.
The only criticism that I have for this book (which only popped up when I reached adulthood) is that in order to draw some of his realistic outlines of the constellations, Rey needed to incorporate a number of faint stars that can only be seen in areas that have very dark skies at night. Under such conditions there are so many stars peppering the heavens (that are not on Rey's charts) that an amateur could be overwhelmed and get lost. Despite this quibbling, I still consider this book to be the best introductory work on Astronomy around, no matter what age the reader. I've seen lots of other "Astronomy 101" books--some are good, some are great, but after 50 years of being in print, "The Stars" has yet to be beat.
There are a couple of fundamental ways to study the heavens. A 'modern' approach might be to put your head down, click in a few celestial coordiantes, and wait for the telescope to find a target for you. However a more interesing approach would be to find shape in the sky and locate targets manually. To do that you need to recognize those old landmarks in the sky, the constellations.
The big problem in identifying constellations is to find shape from seemingly random dots. Ray creatively used the same stars, but made 'new' stick diagrams that actually look like what they are supposed to represent. This makes a constellation much easier to visualize, remember, and recognize later. Other texts that attempt this effort fall short because they don't emphasize visual recognition clues.
A major fault of modern texts is the inclusion of unnecessary detail. Ray puts in a few choice details that help the memory and add interesting character to the figures in the sky. But by excluding minutia he draws the reader back to the goal at hand. Ultimately you need to memorize a blueprint of the sky, and this workbook will be your best friend to help reach that goal. Bravo.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A classic book, well worth reading. The constellations should ALWAYS be seen this way, makes it SO much easier to identify them in the sky.Published 1 day ago by Timothy Meadows
Love these books! Have had one in the past, and it needed updating. Would recommend it to anyone wishing to learn more about the night sky.Published 3 days ago by Mary S. Harvey
The Classic. Buy it for yourself, your kids, your loved ones or for anyone that thinks they don't think they have the slightest interest in astronomy. In his spare time H.A. Read morePublished 28 days ago by IWilliam Stonehill
A Fantastic book on the stars and constellations. The author has created a great instructional book and nice go to reference. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Henry A. Rhyne
I used to check this book out from the bookmobile in the 60's when I was a kid. I was surprised that it is till in print.Published 3 months ago by walt3910