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Book Reviews


Astronomy Manual: The Practical Guide to the Night Sky
Author: Jane A Green

Publisher: Haynes Publishing

ISBN: 978-18-442-5821-5

Price: £19.99 (Hb) 201pp


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Packed and passionate, Jane Green takes us on a brief tour of several thousand years' worth of astronomical history before a detailed examination of the Solar System, then beyond, following it up with techniques in practical astronomy and photography. This book was written not just with instruction and care, but with love. I found some of the language a little over-dramatised, which made it harder to read - but, far more importantly, not only does Green infect the reader with enthusiasm, but she's hugely friendly. It has the added glamour of forewords by Sir Patrick Moore and Dr Brian May.

It's carefully organised, with each topic being given a strict whole number of pages. I especially appreciated the care given to illustrating and explaining practical equipment to the complete beginner. Similarly, there's a section about all the space telescope missions - whatever information you're looking for, you're likely to find it! We're given both historical and modern backgrounds to everything. We also get a tour of the constellations, one at a time, with history, interesting stars or galaxies amid them, and useful tips such as where to draw imaginary lines. I got mildly put off by the repeated urgings of how easy it all was, when my own experience was otherwise - but still felt I had a very knowledgeable guide.

The pictures are rich and colourful, and the artwork inspired: every left page has a large space-themed margin - a star cluster, a barren lunar surface, a galaxy arm - and these change according to the chapter, so the reader can combine beauty with speedy navigation.

Give yourself plenty of time reading this book. You can read it for knowledge or for dreaming, and the latter is hard to avoid, which only makes it even more worthwhile.

Alice Sheppard

2009 Yearbook
This 132-page special edition features the ultimate observing guide for 2009, a review of all the biggest news stories of 2008, in depth articles covering all aspects of astronomy and space missions for 2009, previews of International Year of Astronomy events and much, much more.
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Infinity Rising
This special publication features the photography of British astro-imager Nik Szymanek and covers a range of photographic methods from basic to advanced. Beautiful pictures of the night sky can be obtained with a simple camera and tripod before tackling more difficult projects, such as guided astrophotography through the telescope and CCD imaging.
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Exploring Mars
Astronomy Now is pleased to announce the publication of Exploring Mars. The very best images of Mars taken by orbiting spacecraft and NASA's Spirit and Opportunity rovers fill up the 98 glossy pages of this special edition!
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Mars rover poster
This new poster features some of the best pictures from NASA's amazing Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity.
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