This well-written and profusely-illustrated book – written by Phil Harrington, the well-known author of the “Star Wares” series of equipment guides – is a very complete beginner’s guide to locating, observing, and understanding 125 of the most fascinating celestial objects. It starts by helping you observe and identify the surface features of the Moon. The lunar month is split into partial phases, with the most prominent features described and accompanied by labeled photographs taken by the author. The book then takes you to visit the banded cloud tops of Jupiter, the stunning rings of Saturn, the phases of Venus, and the surface markings on Mars. The level of information on each is just right for those taking in their first views of these planets. The book also provides useful tips on observing asteroids, comets and the Sun.
The latter two-thirds of the book moves out beyond the solar system, where you’ll learn tips and tricks for finding outstanding deep-sky objects from stars to galaxies. Most of the deep sky objects comprise those within the Messier Catalog, accompanied by a selection of some of the most attractive double stars and NGC objects. It is an eclectic mix of star clusters, galaxies, nebulas, and stars that is sure to please all observers. The deep sky objects are divided into four observing seasons. Each season is further subdivided into smaller “Sky Windows” that include the richest and most rewarding parts of the sky. Each Sky Window includes a clear map showing the location of the best objects within the Window. Serving up the night sky in bite-size chunks like this is an excellent way of keeping the observer focused on a particular area instead of wandering all over the sky.
Star Watch features a detailed physical description of each object you’ll observe, including size, distance, and structure, as well as the scientific explanation of what you’re looking at. It gives concise directions for locating the objects, handy finder charts, and hints on the best times of the year to view each object. The book describes what you’ll really see with your naked eye, through binoculars, or through a small to medium telescope. It gives ratings for how easy each object is to find, and includes a “WOW!” factor rating that indicates how impressive each object is through binoculars, small telescopes (3” to 5”), and medium telescopes (6” to 8”).
Star Watch will transport you to the farthest depths of space – and return you as a well-traveled, experienced stargazer. One reviewer said it “. . . has infectious enthusiasm that makes people want to buy a telescope in the first place . . . a wonderfully written book.”
Paperback, 312 7.5” x 9.25” pages, 42 photos, 37 maps, 17 diagrams, 23 eyepiece impression drawings, and 11 tables.