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Book Reviews


Collins Night Sky and Starfinder
Authors: Storm Dunlop and Wil Tirion

Publisher: HarperCollins

ISBN: 978-0-0074-3616-3

Price: £ 17.99 (Pb) 256pp


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Intended for the beginner or casual astronomical observer, this attractive book provides a guide to the constellations and other celestial features for those using binoculars, small telescopes or even the naked eye. The centrepiece of the book comprises monthly charts, with northern and southern views for each month, as seen in mid-month at approximately 22:00 hours local time. The writing style is clear and uncomplicated, although technical terms are used where necessary, and there is useful glossary. Other contents feature the constellations arranged by season, detailed lunar maps, planetary positions, and ‘Objects in the sky’, which include nacreous and noctilucent clouds, aurorae, artificial satellites, and more distant features such as clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. The 'Further information' section is a helpful mix of bibliographical sources and websites (and yes, Astronomy Now is included!).

Secured in a pocket inside the back cover is a starfinder, a ready-reckoner in the shape of a small disc which can be set to month, day and hour and used to establish the identity of stars on view. This reviewer has to confess not being able to fully assess this, at a time of early autumn when the weather and visibility have been unusually unkind, and the Moon and Jupiter were dominating those skies which were visible. Planets are not of course shown in the charts, something which may confuse the inexperienced when comparing charts with sky.

The authors are well-known and respected in the field, but the publisher has perhaps erred in producing a book which has the appearance of a pocket guide, but at 210 x 147mm may be just a little too large and heavy for all but the widest pockets. Also, one suspects that the softback binding for 256 pages may not stand up to too much casual handling. With these minor caveats, this book is recommended.

A J Mullay

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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