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4.6 out of 5 stars18
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 15 July 2011
That this observing guide has survived into its fourth edition is testament to its quality. Clearly one of the best companions to practical astronomy, for all levels of interest (including simple naked-eye observing). It is in the usual format, based around monthly star charts for both northern and southern hemispheres, and then more detailed constellation and lunar maps with their accompanying text briefly describing the most interesting objects. The depth of coverage is surprisingly high, so the book is really inexhaustible. I had the second edition, and it was an inspiring guide when I was first learning the sky. But it has proved to be a permanent companion, even after going on to more detailed atlases and observing handbooks, since no single book matches its convenience and beauty for casual stargazing.

Another section gives a good introduction to the science of astronomy - particularly as it relates to the universe which a backyard amateur sees! On the other hand Ian Ridpath's accounts of constellation mythology and lore are especially insightful, and he explains many more star names than other similar books do.

I definitely found the new edition worth buying, mainly for the improved star charts - they give much higher contrast between stars and background in both low light and red light. Don't be deceived by the relatively 'washed out' appearance of the background in full daylight! Even then, there is a beauty to these charts that grows on you. (The addition of colour to the brightest stars in the monthly charts is another beautiful touch.) The text is generally just a little bit improved and updated. It is probably for the best that the five-year planetary finder charts are removed to a companion website - not enough years' worth can be included to match the life of the book - although I think they CAN still be useful as an illustration of the type and SCALE of motion of each planet across the sky.

P.S. Just a note on using the monthly charts. They are cleverly drawn (taking advantage of being split across two pages) to give a very realistic sky-view - without the distortion of normal one-sided planispheres. To make good use of them instead of a planishere, though, you need to remember that the 12 charts also represent the sky through a single day, moving FORWARD at two-hour intervals. So the September chart shows the sky at 10 p.m. on the 15th: for midnight on the same day go to the October chart, for 8 p.m. go to the August chart. This wasn't explained in the book, and it took me ages to cotton on! (It's a pity that the charts weren't put into separate blocks for each hemisphere, to make it easier to flick between the months for an animated sky view!)
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on 13 May 2013
Its a very simple format - most of the book gives a list of all the bright stars and deep space objects by constellation, with brief details of each. So when I'm out at night with the telescope (especially with friends), we can easily look up different stars etc and get basic facts about what we are seeing. The only slight downside is that it seems to lack one or two obvious things that could add even more value - e.g. star spectral classes are given only in words ("yellow/white" which I assume is class F but it would be nice to have that stated).
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on 11 May 2013
Collins have made very good guides over the years [especially when I was younger] and this is no exception!

2/3's of the book is about sky maps and the 88 constellations with the remaining 1/3 to do with the Solar System, with a bit on star formation and telescopes. There are good maps on the moon and a bit on Mars too.
The maps/constellations section is excellent, the 'Planets' section could have done with a bit more info, but the book is already 400 pages long so they would have had to make it a two volume set!

This copy is a paperback and because of this will get creases down the spine and general wear and tear if well used.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in Astronomy.
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on 8 August 2014
Great book for the novice Sir Patrick Moore's. Easily laid out, into constellations with maps of the constellation and a brief description as to what you will find in each double stars, DSO's galaxies etc. Also included are Moon maps, chapters on the solar system. I have mine with my telescope so when I am hunting the night sky I have a compact guide to help me.
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on 13 April 2015
I bought this book for my son-in-law whom has just got a telescope so needed more information on the planets and stars. He is very impressed with the depth of knowledge in this volume. I think I have created a monster for my daughter.
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on 31 December 2013
This book has lots of detail, with diagrams & pictures. There are also good photos. My teenaged son received it from his Grandma for Christmas (via my Amazon account!) and is very pleased with it.
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on 20 January 2014
Great book. Fairly sizeable but can still be easily shoved into the pocket of my combat jacket to use in the field whilst out with the telescope.
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on 23 August 2015
A well illustrated guide to the night sky. With clear charts of the constellations and special objects of interest. And an informative text taking you from the moon out to the furthest galaxies.
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on 25 May 2016
Very comprehensive, but definitely not light bedtime reading. It's a very good book, but one I will dip into when I need to know something rather than read.
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on 26 March 2016
A really excellent comprehensive guide. Quite an achievement to pack so much information in such an accessible format into an easily portable book.
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