Book Review: Observing the Night Sky with Binoculars

Article Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
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With warmer weather returning to the Earth’s northern hemisphere, we can again venture forth under the night sky for pleasant star gazing. If you’re just beginning this pastime and are planning to rely upon binoculars, then you should also consider Stephen O’Meara’s book, “Observing the Night Sky with Binoculars – A Simple Guide to the Heavens“. It will have you comfortably cruising the night’s starry sphere in no time with its straightforward techniques and handy mnemonics.

In a simple but effective layout, the book starts by providing background information. In particular, it has details on what’s good to look for and how to find it. Whether bright stars and variable stars, pink stars and blue stars, or galaxies and clusters, it gives the reader a set of distinctive parameters. Then, by describing the use of averted eyes, star charts and monthly calendars, it prepares the reader for getting the most from their night time sleuthing.

After this brief baselining, the book settles in to a monthly-specific rendition of what’s exciting and where to find it. Without getting hung up on whether a constellation, asterism or sign of the zodiac, it prepares the reader for locating common stellar appearances that occur in the mid-northern latitudes. Then, as if to urge on the reader, the text adds some star lore like the T Coronae Borealis being a recurring novae that flared in 1866 and 1946. And for those less inclined to the physical particulars, the text also includes artistic and historical pieces. Many snippets of related poetry begin chapters and epic Greek stories illustrate how star patterns influenced early cultures. Thus, each month broadens the reader’s understanding of night time skies and their knowledge of sky’s influence in earlier ages.

Also, clear illustrations appear throughout. Most drawings have an angular scale (i.e. one fist being about 10 degrees) for the reader to get their bearing. And, traces on photographic images should aid the reader to make order of what can be a very daunting, busy night time scene. Given these and the book’s focus upon having the reader enjoy their viewing time should prove an effective enticement for anyone rousing from a long winter’s nap.

So, don’t dismiss that little spark of interest when newly seeing a bright star in the evening sky. Grab binoculars and Stephen O’Meara’s book, ‘”Observing the Night Sky with Binoculars – A Simple Guide to the Heavens” to begin an adventure exploring an unlimited realm.


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