Review of Stargazer: A Step-by-step Guide to the Southern Night Sky – Dorling Kindersley

Posted: October 14, 2019 in nonfiction, Review
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Introducing an exciting new approach to stargazing in the southern hemisphere, this book features step-by-step routes to help you easily identify key constellations across the southern night sky.

Stargazer takes you through constellations one-by-one, linking them together as you progress using easy-to-follow star routes that guide you across the celestial sphere. Adapted carefully for the southern hemisphere, this book is perfect for budding astronomers learning to navigate our expansive and fascinating universe. Complete with practice exercises, stunning colour photography of nebulas and galaxies, and amazing facts about our solar system and beyond, this book is a reliable and exciting new guide to our skies.

Stargazer: A Step-by-step Guide to the Southern Night Sky

Dorling Kindersley

Penguin Random House New Zealand

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Stephen Litten

Stargazer was originally published as a northern hemisphere guide, but thanks to the team at Penguin Random House Australia it has been updated to aid in the identification of constellations and major star clusters in the southern hemisphere. Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock is retained from the UK edition, and is ably assisted by Ian Ridpath and Patrick Armstrong, two Australian astronomers.

The book is divided into 6 sections: an intro to stargazing, 4 routes around the southern sky, and a brief extro concerning planets and the like. Why constellations and not stars? Because the sky is divided into constellations with the named stars tied to the various constellations. Thus, Antares sits in Scorpius and Betelgeuse in Orion. The routes traced are: Crux to South Celestial Pole, Orion to Pleiades, Scorpius to Galactic Centre, and Piscis Astrinus to Large Magellanic Cloud. So, while the southern skies don’t have a naked eye visible polar star, we do have the better view of the Milky Way plus the Magellanic Clouds. There are plenty of illustrations and enough text to illuminate these.

What are missed are some of the constellations that straddle the ecliptic. These include some of the zodiacal ones like Virgo and Leo as well as non-zodiacal ones like Cetus and Ophiucus. So this really is an introductory guide. Not having the original northern hemisphere version, I can’t quickly check to see if the omissions in this are completed by that.

I found the book to be aesy to follow. Finding the constellations was generally simple (when the weather cooperated). I live in south Auckland and I could achieve adequate viewing conditions by just stepping out the back door, so it is applicable most of us southern hemisphere types. Price is reasonable for a firm-cover edition, $37, and it’s not too bulky so can be carried outside with you. Thank you to Penguin Random House for the review copy.

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