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Book Reviews


Deep Sky Wonders: A Tour of the Universe
Author: Sue French

Publisher: Firefly

ISBN: 978-1-55407-793-9

Price: £29.95 (Hb) 320pp


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Books with the words ‘deep sky’ in the title are ten-a-penny, as are coffee table books boasting gorgeous Hubble images. This book by Sky and Telescope columnist Sue French manages to steer clear of the pitfalls of both of these kinds of books with her latest offering, Deep Sky Wonders. Since 1999 French has maintained her monthly column of the same name, and is well-regarded for having extensive knowledge on the subject – and for conveying this in a very readable and easy-to-understand way.

The price of the book is surprising. It is a hefty hardback with over 300 glossy pages - at under ?30, it’s very reasonably priced. It is structured as an extension of French’s monthly column format and splits 100 of her previous magazine columns by season, and subsequently divides these again by month.

There are also star maps, an object index and a list of atlases, observing guides and websites that French recommends as resources alongside the book. This is definitely in her favour; one of the few criticisms of this book is that although it promises to be suitable for beginners, it may be a little intimidating for anyone just beginning to observe as an amateur. Depending on your skill level, it may be necessary to use the suggested resources to make sense of the surprisingly text-dense chapters.

French journeys through the seasonality, location, characteristics and identity of a range of deep sky objects, all illustrated with stunning photographs and accompanied by a brief description of the object’s context and history of discovery. There is also practical advice on what is achievable with a given telescope, from a given position at a certain time of the year. It does not just skim over the Messier objects that are usually reeled off, but includes lesser-known and more obscure objects.

Unfortunately the book does not include the southern sky, but despite this it is a highly-recommended read for anyone interested in deep sky astronomy – it makes for a beautiful and informative read.

Nicky Guttridge

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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