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Nightwatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe [Spiral-bound]

Terence Dickinson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 May 2001
With more than 275,000 copies in print since its original publication in 1983, Nightwatch has become a standard reference guide for stargazers throughout the Northern Hemisphere. The enlarged third edition of the book was issued in 1998, but this new fourth printing has been re-issued this year with even more revisions and the latest astronomical statistics and information. Comprehensive field guide for amateur stargazers, featuring 20 specially created full-colour deep-sky star charts and 256 full colour photographs. Special full-colour sections cover the stars, constellations, nebulae, planets, the sun and moon, eclipses, comets and meteors. Ultra-simplified jargon-free text offers substantial information for the novice and intermediate astronomer on equipment and photography. New edition features spiral binding for lay-flat use next to your telescope

Product details

  • Spiral-bound: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Firefly Books Ltd; 3rd Revised edition edition (3 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1552093026
  • ISBN-13: 978-1552093023
  • Product Dimensions: 27.7 x 25.7 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 620,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

The third edition of Nightwatch continues its tradition of being the best handbook for the novice astronomer. Terence Dickinson covers all the problems beginners face, starting with the fact that the night sky does not look the way a modern city-dweller expects. He discusses light pollution, how to choose binoculars and telescopes, how to pronounce the names of stars and constellations, telescope mounts, averted vision and why the Harvest Moon looks especially bright. Most of the lovely photographs in the book were taken by amateurs, which gives the section on astrophotography a particularly inspirational gleam.

Dickinson's star charts are very handy, each covering a reasonable field of view and mapping the most interesting amateur objects. He gives good advice for planet watching, which he notes "is one of the few astronomical activities that can be conducted almost as well from the city as from dark rural locations."

Altogether, the maxim for Nightwatch is indeed "practical": this is a book to be used, not just read. Spiral-bound to lie flat or to fold back undamaged, this is a field guide that pulls its own weight in the field. Author Timot hy Ferris says, "Like a good night sky, Nightwatch is clear and wind-free". Try it and see for yourself." --Mary Ellen Curtin,


I believe I've found the best beginners [astronomy] book ever. That's a strong claim, but nothing short of awesome.--Bob Burris"Sailsbury Post" (05/14/2005)

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
55 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now I understand! 28 Jan 2004
By A Customer
Format:Spiral-bound|Verified Purchase
I am a beginner; I have other astronomy books, but these always seem to be impenetrable hence I was an unsuccessful and disillusioned beginner.
Within an hour of reading the book I was navigating my way around the sky with good success and growing confidence. The information is well laid out and guides you easily in simple steps. It also avoids the "list everything" approach of my other books and details those things that are worth the effort to look for (whether with binoculars or smaller telescope). I am sure that this information is in other books - but the layout of this makes it considerably more useable. Physically its ring bound; so you can fold the pages back and orientate the sky maps. Secondly it leads you step by step from a guide constellation to get an orientation and mapping this to the sky maps. Once you know what you are looking at the maps help you to see what is *worth* looking at with the equipment you have.
I am sure that I will grow out of this book at some point in time and need to use my other more encyclopaedic books - but the point is that without Nightwatch these other books would collect dust forever.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This book is very well thought out. It is not only well written, well structured and illustrated, but even the spiral bound format is excellent for using the book while star-gazing. The charts are excellent, the stars of the Big Dipper, Orion and other constellations are used as pointers to other stars, constellations and deep sky objects. This format is a boon to those of us just learning the stars.
The seasonal star charts show the night sky in two formats on opposing pages. One is annotated with the constellations, star names, a few deep sky objects and the pointers to other objects(mentioned earlier), the second chart shows a rendition of a deep blue sky with the stars and no annotations. This combination of charts has been very helpful to my wife, children and me as we learn the night sky.
Later in the book there are twenty, more finely detailed charts showing the locations of more galaxies, nebulas and star clusters.
The book also introduces "deep sky objects" (galaxies, nebulas and star clusters) and explains each type. These objects are what have actually sparked my interest in astronomy even more than the stars and planets.
The book covers several other astronomical subjects, inluding: the planets, sun and moon, eclipses, comets, meteors, and auroras. The chapter on stargazing equipment is very useful if your trying to choose a telescope. The second chapter "The Universe in Eleven Steps" is mind-stretching journey starting at the Earth and expanding to the breadth of the physical universe.
My wife received "Night Watch" from me as a gift, and for Christmas she got me "The Backyard Astronomer's Guide," also by Terence Dickinson. Mr. Dickinson's writing style and clarity brings this lofty subject down to earth for those of us who are not astrophysicists or astronomers.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Getting Started Book 23 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This book is very well thought out and superbly designed. The text touches on almost every concept in amateur astronomy and explains difficult concepts in easy to understand terms. The star charts are an excellent edition and provide detailed object information not usually found on more formalized charts. This book has something for everyone - from the person who has never even lookup up at the sky to the more advanced amateur astronomer.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best ! 2 May 2005
As a new beginner to Astronomy, I bought two books, this being one of them, and the other being "Turn Left at Orion".
Both have their individual merits. TLAO is great for providing fine detail to how to find the object that you are searching for, and shows what it should look like in the telescope and/or binoculars. This is something thats missing from Nightwatch.
NW does however provide very good star maps based on individual constellations, and seasonal skycharts, all of which provide general locations for all major objects. This is what is missing from TLAO.
Used in conjunction, both books work well, however Nightwatch is the book that I prefer. Reason being, that Nightwatch is a much more complete reference book for the "seeable" cosmos. Fantastic background material and pictures of the major objects which serve to whet the appetite for scope viewing. I have located many objects through use of the constellation maps. If I have trouble finding them, that is when I turn to TLAO. NW also has the advantage of having a spiral bound format which makes the book highly user friendly in "the field"
I would highly recommend this book to anyone having a passing interest in the night sky for its sheer completeness.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This is the first book I bought on the subject of astronomy and it has turned out to be a very worthwhile purchase. Terence Dickenson has a down to earth, easy to read writing style and this book invites you to rush outside and look up at the stars within 10 minutes!
Nightwatch is a balanced mix between informing the complete novice about the workings of the Universe and providing those with a bit more experience some useful star maps and tips on viewing using binoculars or small telescopes.
This book has been put together immaculately and with a lot of thought as to the layout, even down to the ring-bound spine, which helps the book stay open during star-gazing.
Its inevitable that the serious amateur will grow out of this book since it wasn’t designed to include detailed star atlases, but it should be purchased as a good starting point to familiarise yourself with the night sky.
Nightwatch is very highly recommended to anyone who wonders about our Universe.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great details
Have just got into astronomy and was advised to buy this book. It is perfect for looking at the night sky, and recognising what I see - it explains the view at different times of... Read more
Published 2 months ago by hb
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile book for the novice/serious amateur astronomer!
Nightwatch by Terence Dickinson is (or should be) a required reference text and guide that provides an astronomically large cornucopia of informative knowledge to the novice, as... Read more
Published on 18 April 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile book for the novice/serious amateur astronomer!
Nightwatch by Terence Dickinson is (or should be) a required reference text and guide that provides an astronomically large cornucopia of informative knowledge to the novice, as... Read more
Published on 18 April 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a masterpiece!
An outstanding 'buffet' of astronomicalgoodies...maps, sketches, photos, text,explanations, references, comparisons,insights..... Read more
Published on 30 Jun 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars CAN't SEE RED on star charts using red NIGHTLIGHT
OUTSTANDING!!! This book fill almost ALL of the GAPS that are left on the subject. Most books either deal with showing the constellations OR get into how stars are made / born /... Read more
Published on 1 Feb 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Superb!!! Outstanding!
I was skeptical at first when perchasing this book. Flipping through, I found it to have an amazing array of topics. Read more
Published on 1 Feb 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Will make you want to be an Astronomer!
This is a great book for ANYONE who is interested in the stars and space. I almost finished reading it from cover to cover in several hours. Read more
Published on 30 Jan 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what I was looking for
Extremely well designed and thought out, from the spiral ring binder so the book stays open while you're using your telescope, to the easy to read star charts and simple, easy to... Read more
Published on 28 Oct 1998
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