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on February 25, 2015
As the number one selling amateur astronomy book in the world (and here on Amazon), I think most would buy this holding fairly high expectations. And I am happy to report that for the most part, the book lives up to the hype. It provides an easily accessible framework based on the constellations of the Big Dipper (Ursa Major) and Orion for then orienting and helping any amateur astronomer to get out viewing under the stars. The chapters are logically laid out from understanding the scale of the universe to the layout of the constellations to picking a first telescope to the observation of major celestial sights. Mr Dickinson does a great job of including some great inserts on major star names and their origins, future upcoming lunar and solar eclipses and detailed data on how to view the planets. Perhaps my favorite illustration of the book is the one showing the constellations of the Zodiac laid out in the correct direction relative to the Milky Way galaxy. There are also a great many detailed star charts available in the book which will help any northern hemisphere owner achieve proper orientation to the night sky. The book is also very good as discussing amateur astronomy from several points of view, including naked eye observation, binocular viewing and for those owning telescopes.

At about 190 pages, the book can easily be read over the period of a week or so with the observer then coming back frequently to use the star charts. The only caveat I can think of is that the book is perhaps not as detailed as some gear heads and more serious observers might hope for. As a complete newbie when I purchased the book, I found every chapter insightful but now that I have more experience, I would also recommend interested readers who want more meat to take a look at another book by Dickinson, 'The Backyard Astronomer's Guide'. BAG as it is known to astronomers is basically a more detailed version of Nightwatch. It has some of the basic detail of Nightwatch but with a great deal of depth that Nightwatch does not have (especially concerning telescope gear and equipment) plus many new topics. Nightwatch does have many nice sky maps which BAG does not. Basically if you wish to get into night sky viewing occasionally or without equipment, or with binoculars or a small cheaper telescope, then Nightwatch is your best bet. However, if you are pretty sure that celestial viewing is going to be a major hobby for you and you crave more detail, then I recommend ordering Nightwatch and the BAG book together.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and am still using the star charts during observations. There is no wasted space in the book and it will certainly help out any new backyard astronomer. Easily five stars!
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on June 6, 2017
I read everything in this book including the captions and the last chapter, and was not disappointed. It was recommended on a website I visited just before deciding on whether or not to invest money in equipment for backyard astronomy. The follow-up book, Backyard Astronomer's Guide, is a bigger and more detailed reference book, but NightWatch is excellent for beginners. The book lays flat and has just the right information for a beginner. I highly, highly recommend this book, which is written exceptionally well.
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on November 27, 2017
As I was getting closer to retirement, I followed a lifetime desire to learn more about the cosmos. This book has been a valuable guide for several years now. I loved the section on The Universe in Eleven Steps. I recommend this book to anyone that has looked up at the night sky and wondered.
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on April 22, 2016
If you have a desire to gaze upwards and wonder at the stars, this is a must for you. I started to learn the star names and positions, and now I don't see just a maze of white lights in the night sky. Instead I see Orion's belt, Ursa Major, Procyon, and all the other wonders, and thanks to this book have become an amateur astronomer. Reading and studying this book will change your view of the sky forever, like it did mine, and for the better.
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on March 25, 2014
This is a great introductory book for novices that already know a little of what's going on out there. It does not dumb things down but adds to what we already know which will gives one more intelligence at each turn of the page. It has a run down on various telescopes and under what conditions each telescope would be good for viewing. It has the sky pattern for night skies for both the northern and southern hemisphere in all four seasons. It contains understandable detailed explanations on sky behavior. It defines in detail what each celestial body is and it's place. It contains plates for the constellation down to best viewing time within a specific time of the month and time. An absolutely priceless book that I am honored to own which will guide me in my personal studies of the heavens.
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on December 24, 2016
The absolute best guide in star gazing. This "roadmap" of Deep Space, will enhance any amateur astronomer's viewing of deep space phenomena. It has excellent information on current technology and the best selection of deep space objects I have ever seen or used. Haven't really seen anything that compares with it. Regardless of the time of year or your location in North America, it's a practical, easy to follow guide/map. Don't go outside without it!
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on August 10, 2017
I am new to amateur astronomy, so I ordered this book to learn the basics of the craft and become more familiar with the night sky. I would highly recommend this book to someone new to this hobby to get a better grasp of the night sky. The author does a great job of offering beginner level equipment and other reference books and websites.
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on May 24, 2015
I've had many books on astronomy over the years but this is the best one I've seen. Up to date information in an evolving science is a joy to read. I'm getting back into amateur astronomy after being away several years and this book is bringing me up to speed on newer developments and current equipment.
The pictures are super as is the paper quality and the entire book. One of my best investments in a book ever!
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on October 19, 2010
I'm not new to astronomy, just new to finding constellations. I bought this book on the recommendation of Mr. Frazer Crane from Astronomy Cast. He said it had some very nice star maps in it and because of the way it was bound could be laid out flat and was easy to see.

Well I concur with the above evaluation 100%. In fact the star maps go beyond all normal star maps in that on the adjacent page there are actual photographs of the night sky so you can reference the star map to the real constellations. Makes it easy! The book is very nicely illustrated and finished. It is comprehensive for the beginning astronomer.Has recommendations on first telescopes and cameras.It also has a pronounciation guide in the back for the stars and constellations and also tells what the name means. There are also planet chart viewing times, and what season is the best viewing time for the object you want to see.

To beginning astronomy students or old salts I think this book belongs in everyone's library. You won't be sorry you bought it.

Dave Proffitt
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on January 10, 2014
I have been a star buff since I was 10 and my niece is now interested in it, so I wanted to find a good book that could answer all the questions when I am not around. This one is probably a little older reading level, as it is on the verge of a textbook, but not much. Easy to follow, lots of pictures, charts and good explications for new astronomer. I found it easy to flip between sections and find answers to our questions and very natural in the explanation of star formations, rotation/orbit of the earth and using telescopes. Spiral binding makes it great for research!.
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