Most helpful positive review
52 of 52 people found the following review helpful
An excellent book to begin with.
on 19 January 2011
So you don't know what syzygy is, or what a nebula consists of, or where to find faculae, or maybe you have an interest in retrograde motion or planetary escape velocities. Before reading this book it sounded a bit too star trek for me and I used to hide from complex astronomical terms. But with the guidance that sir Patrick Moore provides in this fantastic manual it all becomes a bit more manageable. I don't purport to be well versed in the mysteries of the universe but now I have a rough idea where to point my telescope when looking for the various wonders in the sky. This book also promotes a more realistic expectation as to what we can hope to find with a scope costing a couple of hundred quid. I think most people imagine seeing the depths of the galaxy with a scope more suited to birdwatching and hence become disheartened and give up. But enough of my opinions what about the book?
Depending on your time constraints you can take the one or five minute introduction, which is a novel idea although I read the five minute intro in three minutes but lets not confuse things shall we !! Each chapter begins by optimistically telling you what you will learn, contained throughout are little "insight" boxes which are a fantastic source of interesting facts, you know the type of stuff to impress your friends with, even if you know little else! And helpfully provided at the end of each chapter is a bullet point revision page.
We get an adequate introduction to astronomy and the spinning sky followed by a brief history of skywatching. I enjoyed the chapter on telescopes which made me look at my own scope in a whole new light ..... mainly negative! Next we delve into space and have informative chapters on the sun, moon, planets and stars. I found the chapter on constellations tough going mainly due to the terminology and thought at one stage I had picked up "beginners Greek" but it is worth persevering with and becomes a little more understandable as you progress. Various star types are discussed as are nebulae and the life of stars and the book ends with a very thought provoking chapter on life beyond Earth.
I am about as amateur as an amateur can be when it comes to astronomy but this book has helped me gain an understanding of our solar system and indeed the wider universe. It's written in a clear, concise and down to earth manner (pardon the pun).So if Astronomy tugs at your interest then maybe this book would be a good place to start!