Two New Books From Universe Today Writers, Just in Time for the Holidays

Looking for great holiday gifts for that special someone who is interested in space and the stars? Two writers for Universe Today have you covered whether it’s exploration of the Solar System or learning what to look for in the night sky.

Universe Today’s Contributing Editor Nancy Atkinson shares the insights of over 35 NASA scientists and engineers in her new book “Incredible Stories from Space.” And if that gives you the itch to go outside and look up, be sure to get a copy of Bob King’s “Night Sky with the Naked Eye” to help you explore space from your own backyard.

In “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing our View of the Cosmos” Nancy takes readers inside the robotic space missions that are transforming our understanding of the solar system and beyond.

Weaving together one-on-one interviews along with the extraordinary sagas of missions, this book provides a detailed look at both current and future unmanned missions. It chronicles the struggles and triumphs of nine current spacecraft and captures the true spirit of exploration and discovery. Full color images throughout reveal scientific discoveries and the stunning, breathtaking views of our universe, sent back to Earth by our robotic emissaries to the cosmos.

From the first-ever mission to Pluto to the unprecedented hunt for planets outside our solar system, readers will journey along with missions like New Horizons, Kepler, the Curiosity Mars rover, and the iconic Hubble Space Telescope as they unlock the mysteries of the universe. Learn more about the latest findings in our solar system with the Cassini mission to Saturn, Dawn’s visit to the asteroid belt, the Solar Dynamics Observatory, and the Mars and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiters. Explore the future of space exploration with a preview of upcoming missions.

Over the next couple of weeks, Nancy will be sharing “writing-of” stories and other insights garnered during her interviews and travels for the book. Also look for a preview of one chapter here on Universe Today during the week of Dec. 19.

Cover of Bob King's book. Credit: Bob King/Page Street Publishing
Cover of Bob King’s book. Credit: Bob King/Page Street Publishing

“Night Sky with the Naked Eye: How to Find Planets, Constellations, Satellites and Other Night Sky Wonders without a Telescope” will help you gain a deeper appreciation of the universe and our place in it while advancing your knowledge of the night sky.

Bob lays out a series of activities that are fun and educational while teaching you how to spot the International Space Station, follow the moon through its phases, forecast an aurora and watch a meteor shower along with traditional night sky activities like identifying the planets, stars and constellations. Unique illustrations and stunning photos help the reader understand the concepts presented.

Bob also shows readers how to use a smart phone, the Internet and other resources to enhance time spent under the stars, making this a truly modern and updated night sky book. Many people curious about the night sky think you need expensive equipment to enjoy it. You don’t. This book shows how we can learn a lot about the universe and deepen our appreciation of its beauty using nothing more than our eyeballs.

Bob recently wrote an article, “What I Learned Writing Night Sky With the Naked Eye,

Both books were published by Page Street Publishing, a subsidiary of Macmillan. They are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and IndiBound (links below, with great discounts available at this time!) While Nancy’s book doesn’t come out until Dec. 20, its available for pre-order with delivery on the 20th, just in time for the holidays.

Incredible Stories From Space:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
IndieBound

Night Sky With the Naked Eye:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
IndieBound

Celebrate the Power of Naked-Eye Observing With New Book

The cover of my new book "Night Sky with the Naked Eye". The book is currently available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Publication date is November 8.
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
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
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 cover of the Night Sky with the Naked Eye book jacket.
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.