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Celebrate the Power of Naked-Eye Observing With New Book

This is the cover of my new book “Night Sky with the Naked Eye”, a non-technical guide to all the great things visible with the naked eye at night. It’s published by Page Street Publishing and distributed by Macmillan and currently available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Publication date is November 8. Look for it here on Universe Today soon!

If you’re like a lot of people, you don’t own a telescope but still have a passionate curiosity for what’s going on over your head. Good news!  There’s lots to see up there without any equipment at all. This is the premise of my new book titled Night Sky with the Naked Eye, a guide to the wonders of the night sky that anyone can enjoy and understand whether you live in an apartment in the city or cabin 50 miles from nowhere.

This diagram from the book depicts why many satellites are visible during twilight before they’re eclipsed by Earth’s shadow. Credit: Gary Meader

I’ve always been amazed at how accessible the universe is. To make that personal connection to the cosmos we only need acquire the habit looking up. Total eclipses, monster auroras and rich meteor showers get a lot of coverage and rightly so, but there’s a lot of other stuff up there. Little things that stoke our sense of wonder happen all the time: Earth’s rising shadow at sunset, nightly satellite flyovers, the beauty of an earth-lit crescent moon or seeing your shadow by the light of Venus.

Skywatching not only informs and delights, it has the power to expand our perspective and sense of place in the scheme of things. Gazing up at the Milky Way on a dark summer night, we feel both humbled and fortunate to be alive. The night sky’s elixir of beauty, timelessness and possibility feeds an inner quietude that can be our strength in stressful times.

Night sky observing sometimes means pleasant surprises like seeing this rare Venus pillar and corona. The book explores both celestial and atmospheric phenomena. Credit: Bob King

While the book touches on the contemplative aspects of skywatching, the bulk of it is activity-oriented, intended to inspire you to get outside. I’ve got tips on weather-watching and making the most of online resources like Clear Dark Sky and satellite imagery to help you find clear skies for that must-see special event. And if light pollution is a problem where you live, we explore ways to make a difference in reducing it as well as using online atlases to find a dark observing site.

The book covers the basics of celestial and planetary motions, how to find the brighter constellations and naked-eye deep sky objects along with suggested night sky viewing activities to share with friends and family. There are 1o chapters in all:

Chapter 1: Wave “Hi!” to the Astronauts
Chapter 2: Anticipating the Night
Chapter 3: Rockin’ N’ Rollin’ Earth
Chapter 4: Dive Into the Dippers
Chapter 5: Four Seasons of Starlight
Chapter 6: Meet the Rabbit in the Moon
Chapter 7: Face to Face with the Planets
Chapter 8: Wish Upon a Shooting Star
Chapter 9: Awed by Aurora
Chapter 10: Curiosities of the Night

This is back of the Night Sky with the Naked Eye book jacket. My book will appear back to back with another space book, titled Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos, by Universe Today contributing editor Nancy Atkinson. Watch for her announcement shortly.

Not everything is a billion miles away. We also take time to examine and appreciate closer-to-home phenomena that are part of  the nighttime experience like lunar halos, light pillars and the aurora borealis. No observers’ guide would be complete without challenges. How about seeing craters on the moon with no optical aid or spotting the gegenschein? It’s all here.

Because the Internet has become an integral part of our lives, the book includes numerous online resources as well as useful mobile phone apps related to constellation finding and aurora tracking and tips on night sky photography.

Whether for yourself or to give as a holiday gift for a budding skywatcher, I hope you check out my book, which will be featured in a special promotion here at Universe Today. It would be my privilege to serve as your night sky guide.

Bob King

I'm a long-time amateur astronomer and member of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO). My observing passions include everything from auroras to Z Cam stars. I also write a daily astronomy blog called Astro Bob. My new book, "Wonders of the Night Sky You Must See Before You Die", a bucket list of essential sky sights, will publish in April. It's currently available for pre-order at Amazon and BN.

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