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The Stars: A New Way to See Them Paperback – December 6, 2016
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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Even though the mechanics of the universe fascinates me, most of that is way over my head....literally! I really just want to walk outside, look up into the sky, and identify constellations. I think if I can do that, little by little I'll be able to learn about those constellations, their origins, etc.
Fortunately, I do have reliable resources. One, the Chicago Astronomical Society very graciously runs free, public events from spring through autumn, where veteran astronomers help people like me learn about the Heavens. Two, my husband and I own a pretty good telescope that lets us see detail and keeps us motivated to search for more interesting objects. Three, I have a couple of good, basic astronomy books: NIGHT WATCH, and now this, THE STARS.
THE STARS seems very simplistic, and it's written by the author of the "Curious George" series, but it is definitely not a kids' book. It never gets too technical, but Rey does go into a bit of depth in the later chapters.
To start out with, though, he sketches out the major constellations and gives the observer some great landmarks.
How is this "a new way to see the stars"? Well, a constellation, as a "picture in the sky", can seem pretty abstract to the average person. Sure, the Big Dipper looks like a big dipper. But does an image of a herdsman spring to mind when the components of Bootes are pointed out? Not for me....until I got this book. Now it's starting to make sense.
It's like when you go outside and more and more stars become visible as your eyes adjust--suddenly you say, "NOW I see it!" Very fun.
I like this book because it immediately gives you a foundation on which to continually improve your skills.
The illustrations are great...there are no deep-space photos, but there are lots of engaging drawings that totally show that this book was published in the 1950's.
This says a lot about the person Rey was. If you read about his life, and his narrow escape from the Nazis, it really speaks to his character that he would go on to give the world tools to keep learning, and that at heart he seemed to be a very optimistic person.
"The Stars" is indispensable, for me, and I have used it on every clear night since I got it. Don't let its apparent simplicity fool you. There is an elegance in this little volume.
I give a 5-star rating to this book and I'm buying it for my pre-teen nephews who are interested in astronomy at the moment but can't identify with the ridiculous traditional lines either. The fact that this is still the best selling book on constellation identification is indicative of it's usefulness - all these positive comments are truly a testament as well.