Book Review and Giveaway: The Constellation Observing Atlas

Here is another giveaway just in time for the holidays: The Constellation Observing Atlas by Grant Privett and Kevin Jones. Springer and Universe Today are giving away free copies to two lucky Universe Today readers.

Review by: Evan Gough

The night sky is vast and full of wonders, and binoculars or a telescope can bring these wonders into view. The planets and the moon are easy to find, but after that, the rest of the objects in the night sky can be challenging to locate. “The Constellation Observing Atlas,” by Grant Privett and Kevin Jones, will guide you around the night sky, and help you find the most interesting objects.

This atlas uses the patterns of the constellations to cut the sky up into bite-sized pieces, giving the amateur observer an easy to use method for exploring the night sky. “The Constellation Observing Atlas” has a section for each one of the eighty-eight constellations recognized by the International Astronomical Union, from Andromeda to Vulpecula.

General information about each constellation is included, followed by the history of its name and mapping, any notable double and variable stars are mentioned and any deep sky objects that reside in or near the constellation are listed. Along with some nice images, “The Constellation Observing Atlas” also has detailed maps of each constellation which helps make the observing process straightforward.

The book is well laid out, and the amount of information for each constellation is just right. The maps are detailed and helpful and I found the history sections very interesting and amusing. The authors don’t mind having a little fun at the ancient’s expense for some of their comical constellation choices and the convoluted myths behind them, and who can blame them? Many of the constellations are just vague clumps and arrangements of stars in which the ancients somehow saw their most powerful gods, mythical creatures, and heroes.

Like many Universe Today readers, I’m interested in all things astronomy and space, but I’m far from an expert observer. “The Constellation Observing Atlas” tries to make the night sky accessible for amateurs like myself, and it works. You simply locate a constellation in the sky, check the book for interesting viewing targets, point your ‘scope around, and have some fun. Some of the stars and deep sky objects will be challenging to find, and the authors give detailed information for finding these elusive targets.

In my part of the world, winter has come and I’m in store for some clear, cold, crisp nights. There should be some great observing conditions ahead, with Orion prominent in the night sky. I’m looking forward to using “The Constellation Observing Atlas” to expand my observing. The authors have done a good job of being informative and fun, and I highly recommend this book to amateur and novice observers. It makes the wonders of the night sky accessible, one constellation at a time.

In order to be entered into the giveaway drawing, just put your email address into the box at the bottom of this post (where it says “Enter the Giveaway”) before Monday, December 16th, 2013. We’ll send you a confirmation email, so you’ll need to click that to be entered into the drawing.

Don’t want to wait to see if you won? Get your copy in time for Christmas from

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