Navigating the Night Sky: How to Identify the Stars and Constellations (The Patrick Moore Practical Astronomy Series) Paperback – April 2, 2004
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From the reviews:
"The author, who is a well-known Portugese amateur astronomer, methodically explains how to recognize the brighter stars and major constellations and, thus, how to find one’s way around the night sky. … This book does an effective job of doing what it sets out to do. I recommend it to anyone who wants to explore the night sky for the first time and understand how the night sky visible to us changes during the night and during the year." (Jocelyn Tomkin, The Observatory, Vol. 125 (1186), 2005)
"The book is about how to identify the stars and constellations … . This book comprises a nice selection of careful thought out diagrams which fit in beautifully with the text … . I would really recommend it to someone who is new to astronomy or as a reference book for the regular observer. … With the aid of this book … even the newest observer will be off to a flying start. … The language of the book is easily accessible … ." (Samuel George, Photopresse, Issue: 44, October, 2004)
"The book is targeted at newcomers to astronomy … . the book is interesting and accessible, the concepts discussed are easy to understand and the content flows naturally, with chapters on identifying the constellations, stars and the celestial sphere. … the book closes with 40 pages of appendices with lots of useful tables and data. The diagrams … are especially clear and concise … . This book would certainly point the newcomer in the right direction! I would recommend this practical guide … ." (Mark Allison, Popular Astronomy, July-September, 2006)
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What made me choose this book over others is one figure that shows some of the stars in the night sky, (white stars on black background), the same figure only black dots (stars) on white background, and the third figure the same black stars with constellation groupings drawn in. (What I've just described can be seen in the "look inside this book" section on Amazon.)
There is another figure of a patch of night sky with different viewing conditions: in a brightly lit city (only a few stars visible), on the outskirts of a city (more stars visible), and in a dark area (lots of stars visible). This kind of image is invaluable to me as a novice living in a city - it is now easy to recognize the different constellations in my night sky because I'm not lost in a star map with too many dots.
This same map technique is carried over into celestial maps of different areas of the sky, only instead of showing different viewing conditions, there is a star map (black dots/constellations/stars shown on white background with corresponding names & labels) and then the same view, with just the white stars on the black background, just as one will be seeing it in the night sky.
There are lots of other drawings,diagrams and tables that illustrate things like the ecliptic, the celestial equator, the position of the sun in relation to the constellations of the zodiac, methods for approximate measurement of angular distances, etc.
As if that weren't benefit enough, the author's explanations and writing style are clear AND interesting, and the reader gets a good foundation in "the anatomy" of the night sky, as it were.
I am thrilled to have found this book, and I am very grateful to Guilherme de Almeida for writing it. He says in his introduction, "If one clear night the reader feels some sense of contentment and satisfaction when looking at the starlit sky, this book was worth writing." Well, Mission Accomplished!