NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe / Edition 4

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Overview

Revised Fourth Edition: updated for use through 2025.

The first three editions of NightWatch sold more than 600,000 copies, making it the top-selling stargazing guide in the world for the last 20 years. The key feature of this classic title is the section of star charts that are cherished by backyard astronomers everywhere. Each new edition has outsold the previous one because of thorough revisions and additional new material.

NightWatch has been acclaimed as the best general interest introduction to astronomy. The fourth edition has improvements over the 3rd edition in every chapter, including:

  • The famous charts, ideal for stargazers using a small telescope or binoculars
  • A complete update of the equipment section, including computerized telescopes
  • An enlarged photography section,
    including how-to instructions for using the new generation of digital cameras for astronomical photography, both with and without a telescope
  • The tables of future solar and lunar eclipses, planetary conjunctions and planet locations, updated through 2025.

This edition includes star charts for use in the southern hemisphere. There are also dozens of new photographs throughout the book that show the latest thrilling discoveries made by current space observatories and probes.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
NightWatch is a large-format, colorfully illustrated guide to the night sky. Ranging from picking the right equipment for stargazing to complex charts of the major constellations, it tells you what things are up there and where to find them, which, given the fact that the earth keeps moving, is no easy trick. Terence Dickinson has built a career as a successful science reporter, explaining the night sky to a generation of amateur astronomers. His strength is his gift to explain clearly and with an infectious passion.
The Midwest Book Review
A 'must' for any night-time observer.
— Diane C. Donovan
New Scientist
A clear, concise manual for backyard stargazing... fantastically revised... The best introduction around.
— Ivan Semeniuk
St Paul Pioneer Press
A great overall book for the stargazing hobbyist.
— Mike Lynch
Victoria Times-Colonist
General interest introduction to astronomy now in its fourth edition... bends the mind with information.
— Barbara Julian
The Examiner (Peterborough)
This is probably the best handbook for the beginning astronomer.
— Drew Monkman
American Profile
Newly updated, lavishly illustrated...packed with facts...and a cosmic closet-full of other astronomical delights. Nightwatch puts the heavens at your fingertips.
— Neil Pond
Sky and Telescope
NightWatch remains one of the best sourcebooks to introduce beginning astronomers to the night sky, and to keep them interested.
— Stuart J. Goldman
Globe and Mail
[Globe and Mail 2006 Holiday Gift Book selection] Remains perhaps the best book available for amateur astronomers, and makes fascinating browsing even if you never put eye to telescope.
Windsor Star
NightWatch remains the best single source on sky watching and astronomy equipment for the backyard enthusiast.
— Randy Groundwater
Mercury
This classic title has revisions in every chapter.
Astronomy
[Review-of-previous-edition:] A great all-round astronomy guide.
— Glenn Chaple
Choice
[Review-of-previous-edition:] Easily the best in its field. ... Highly recommended for all libraries.
Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada
[Review-of-previous-edition:] Highly recommended as the best of its kind.
Astronomical League
[Review-of-previous-edition:] This is a book you can confidently recommend to anyone who is just starting out in astronomy.
The Science Teacher
This practical guide is a must ... I believe this is the best book in its field available to amateurs.
— Teri Cosentino
The Whig-Standard
NightWatch, now in its fourth edition, has become a staple in many Canadian cottages and amateur astronomers' bookshelves.
— Ian Elliot
My San Antonio Times (mysa.com)
Another must-have....
— Becky Ramotowski, SkyWatch
The North Bay Nugget
[Astronomy] is a subject that young people are not discarding.....They're interested in it. And they know a lot."
— Maria Calabrese
suite101.com
This is a fantastic introductory book chock full of information and charts. Well written and engaging.
— John Kulczyzki
Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canad
[Review-of-previous-edition:] Highly recommended as the best of its kind.
Garry Black Photography (GarryBlack.com)
If you buy this book for no other reason that to ..find the North Star...then it'll be worth your money.
— Garry Black
Choice
[Review-of-previous-edition:] Easily the best in its field. ... Highly recommended for all libraries.
Astronomy - Glenn Chaple
[Review-of-previous-edition:] A great all-round astronomy guide.
New Scientist - Ivan Semeniuk
[Review-of-previous-edition:] [Nightwatch was] a clear, concise manual for backyard stargazing that also managed to convey the excitement of astronomy. This fantastically revised edition continues that tradition, but now includes sky maps for observers in the southern hemisphere and a guide to celestial phenomena up to 2018. The best introduction around.
The North Bay Nugget - Maria Calabrese
Renowned author and astronomer Terence Dickinson took Grade 5 and 6 students from the [North Bay] area through the universe to make snowballs from water and ice particles that make up Saturn's rings, and visit the red liquid methane lakes of its moon, Titan.... "I'm hoping that they'll walk away with excitement about the universe," he said." It's a subject that young people are not discarding. They're living with it. They're interested in it. And they know a lot."
The Midwest Book Review - Diane C. Donovan
A "must" for any night-time observer.
St Paul Pioneer Press - Mike Lynch
A great overall book for the stargazing hobbyist.
Victoria Times-Colonist - Barbara Julian
General interest introduction to astronomy now in its fourth edition... bends the mind with information.
The Examiner (Peterborough) - Drew Monkman
This is probably the best handbook for the beginning astronomer.
PublishersWeekly.com - Lynn Andriani
New, better-quality photos; amped-up sections on astrophotography and using amateur telescopic equipment; and a new chapter on the skies visible from the Southern hemisphere.
American Profile - Neil Pond
This fourth edition of the essential guide for amateur stargazers is newly updated, lavishly illustrated...and packed with facts...and a cosmic closet-full of other astronomical delights. For anyone who ever looked up and wondered what's out there, Nightwatch puts the heavens at your fingertips.
Sky and Telescope - Stuart J. Goldman
It may be hard to justify upgrading from later printings of the third edition, but NightWatch remains one of the best sourcebooks to introduce beginning astronomers to the night sky — and to keep them interested.
Windsor Star - Randy Groundwater
NightWatch remains the best single source on sky watching and astronomy equipment for the backyard enthusiast.
The Whig-Standard - Ian Elliot
If Canadians look at the sky more than anyone else in the world, it's thanks to one of our own....NightWatch, now in its fourth edition, has become a staple in many Canadian cottages and amateur astronomers' bookshelves along with his popular The Backyard Astronomer's Guide. The book has also quietly gone on to be the bestselling stargazer's guide in the world, having been translated into Spanish, Italian, Greek and other languages, and selling a stead 25,000 copies or more a year around the world.
The Science Teacher - Teri Cosentino
A paramount book of sky objects... easy and understandable. This practical guide is a must for the science classroom teacher, the beginning or amateur astronomer, and young and old students of the night. The author gives a sensible, realistic perspective on night sky viewing. I believe this is the best book in its field available to amateurs.
Tenth Anniversary Edition Shelf Life
With this book, viewing the night skies can become fun again, and a family affair.... A must-have book, to stimulate interest in the heavens above, and away from video games and less productive activities.
Garry Black Photography (GarryBlack.com) - Garry Black
This book is widely regarded as the essential guidebook for beginning stargazers. If you buy this book for no other reason that to help you find the North Star, so that you can take images of Star Trails, then it'll be worth your money.
My San Antonio Times (mysa.com) - Becky Ramotowski
Another must-have....
suite101.com - John Kulczyzki
This is a fantastic introductory book chock full of information and charts. Well written and engaging, it is sure to provide all the information to get Dad started looking at the night sky.
Jeanne Bishop
An incredible amount of helpful information is packed into the book. Included are seasonal star maps with and without line connections and 20 detailed charts of sections of the sky. Not only is this a helpful guide, it is also one of the most beautiful astronomy books I have ever seen. ... I recommend the book for all high school and college libraries and to all teachers who have an active interest in astronomy.
The Science Teacher
Air & Space
One of the best all-around general astronomy books ... The text is simple to understand and has just enough of a 'gee-whiz' tone. ... [It will also] provide good cloudy night reading and encourage exploration.
Chet Raymo
NightWatch is an ideal first book for the backyard astronomer. It is an ideal second book too, one that will grow along with the observer's skill.
Sky & Telescope
Canadian Living
One of the top stargazing guides in the English language, gives novices just the right information to feed their curiousity.
Glenn Chaple
A great all-round astronomy guide.
Astronomy
VOYA - Amy Luedtke
Aspiring stargazers will find everything that they need to unlock the secrets of the night sky in this newly updated edition. Dickinson explains both what to look for and how to find it in easy-to-understand text that also conveys a sense of wonder and excitement. Beginning observers will be able to use the all-sky charts of the four seasons to find and identify star constellations, while observers looking for more of a challenge can use the deep-sky charts to find treasures such as the Orion Nebula. Updates include tables that give the dates for eclipses and the visibility of the planets through 2018 and a new chapter on the skies of the southern hemisphere. Dickinson adds a description of how the problem of light pollution has grown and explains how many people who live in urban areas have never truly experienced the beauty of the night sky. Dickinson provides enough information about the stars, planets, comets, and other observable objects to give context and to also make the book useful for students looking for basic astronomy homework help. Gorgeous photographs of everything from nebulas to eclipses will appeal to casual browsers and astronomy enthusiasts alike. Teens serious about their sky watching will appreciate the chapter on stargazing equipment, which covers the spectrum from selecting binoculars up to computer-age telescopes. Public and school libraries will certainly want to update their collections with this book.
Library Journal
Van Holt, who teaches stargazing courses at the University of Kansas, explains how anyone living between southern Canada and northern Mexico (basically between latitudes 30 and 50 degrees) can learn to identify star formations and constellations without using complicated charts and equipment. Incorporating outdoor survival techniques with science, legends, and the myths surrounding the constellations, he teaches readers how to tell the difference between planets, comets, satellites, and stars and how to use star patterns to determine time and direction. By combining humor with fact, he has created an entertaining illustrated guide to the nighttime skies. Recommended for larger public libraries. For beginning skywatchers and amateur astronomers who want more substance, Dickinson's NightWatch--the standard guide since its 1983 publication--is the book to read. Newly revised and updated, this edition claims to allow for use through the year 2010. Dickinson, an award-winning science writer specializing in astronomy, explains how to find constellations, differentiate galaxies, and identify the location of stars according to seasons. He also discusses equipment, including what criteria to use for selecting a telescope, and includes information about astronomy on the Internet, computerized telescopes, astrophotography, and tips for stargazers using binoculars. With a completely updated and revised text and more than 100 new diagrams and color photographs, Dickinson ensures that his guide will retain its position as a classic. Essential for all public and college library astronomy collections.--Gloria Maxwell, Kansas City P.L.
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up--This long-overdue update of a classic handbook for amateur astronomers combines a text both meaty and hard to put down with a great array of charts, boxes, tables, and dazzling full-color photos of the sky. Aiming this offering at new but serious hobbyists, Dickinson guides readers on a tour of the universe visible from any dark backyard, providing frank evaluations of many telescope models; specific advice for photographers; and a simple system for locating stars, constellations, nebulae, and other intriguing sights. Convenient charts track upcoming eclipses and the locations of the five planets visible to the naked eye (both through the year 2010). The author closes with lists of supplementary resources, including books, software, Web sites, and conventions. Dickinson's contagious enthusiasm and vast expertise earn this a place in reference and circulating collections of any size.--John Peters, New York Public Library
Science Books & Films
An excellent book for anyone interested in viewing the vast variety of celestial objects. The best practical, up-to-date book of its kind, truly a "stargazers companion."
Outdoor Photographer
Terence Dickinson's new edition of Nightwatch is an excellent resource for aspiring astronomers and astrophotographers.
Astronomy Magazine
An accessible reference for all amateur astronomers ... Packed with practical information.
Library Review
Dickinson ensures that his guide will retain its position as a classic.
Canadian Living
One of the top stargazing guides in the English language, gives novices just the right information to feed their curiosity.
McCook Daily Gazette
The premier book for new and seasoned astronomers alike.
Sky and Telescope - Chet Raymo
Nightwatch is an ideal first book for the backyard astronomer. It is an ideal second book too, one that will grow along with the observer's skill.
Air and Space
One of the best all-around general astronomy books .... The text is simple to understand and has just enough of a 'gee-whiz' tone. ... [It will also] provide good cloudy night reading and encourage exploration.
Astronomical Society of the Pacific
A fine beginner's guide to observational astronomy.
Calgary Herald - Jim Quig
Wonderful book. Great pictures... a classic. The kind of guide that takes you by the hand and leads you to all the good stuff.
Sailsbury Post - Bob Burris
I've been reading astronomy guides since Jimmy Carter was in office, and I believe I've found the best beginners book ever. That's a strong claim, but "NightWatch" by Terrence Dickinson is nothing short of awesome.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554071470
  • Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 7/21/2013
  • Format: Spiral Bound
  • Edition description: Fourth Edition, Updated for use through 2025
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 215,121
  • Product dimensions: 11.00 (w) x 10.75 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Terence Dickinson is the best-selling author of 14 other astronomy books, including The Backyard Astronomer's Guide and Hubble's Universe. He has received many national and international science awards, including the New York Academy of Science Book of the Year Award.

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Read an Excerpt

Sky Measures

Just as road maps have distance indicators between cities, our celestial guide maps denote distances between key stars and star groups -- not the distance from Earth to the stars but, rather, the apparent distance from one star to another. This measure is calibrated in degrees (360 degrees in a circle). Using this calibration on the sky is beautifully simple: just hold up your hand. At arm's length the width of the end of the little finger is almost exactly 1 degree -- wide enough to cover the Sun or the Moon, both about half a degree across. The two pointer stars in the bowl of the Big Dipper used to find Polaris are 5 degrees apart, the width of three fingers held boy-scout fashion at arm's length.

For larger sky angles, one fist width is 10 degrees, while 15 degrees is the span between the first and little fingers spread out. An entire hand span, from thumb to little finger, is about 25 degrees, the length of the Big Dipper. Larger dimensions can be measured as multiples of these. For general reference, the distance from the horizon to overhead is 90 degrees. Remember, these hand-reference measurements work only at arm's length.

The system is reasonably accurate for men, women and children, since people with smaller hands tend to have shorter arms. Only the hand-span measure seems to vary from person to person, because some people can extend their thumb and little finger more widely than others can. A quick check against the Big Dipper will indicate whether you have a span closer to 20 degrees than 25. Anyone can become proficient at gauging the distances in degrees from one star or star group to another in just minutes.

It doesn't matter in which season you begin; the Big Dipper diagram on page 34 can be used to locate several prominent stars almost instantly once you have a sense of the dimensions involved. This is the crucial first step toward becoming a backyard astronomer. Orion's seven brightest stars -- three in the belt and four in a surrounding quadrilateral -- are equally efficient as celestial guideposts. Orion's only drawback, compared with the Big Dipper, is that it is prominent in the evening sky only from late November to early April.

Backyard astronomy does not have to be a maze of formulas, calculators, grid lines, nomenclature, mythology and jargon. It can be easy and fun to find your way around the night sky. Most people want to be able to start finding celestial objects from their first night out. That's my goal here in layout out the most straightforward way to do it. In the next chapter, more detailed charts build on the same principles of using distinctive stellar guideposts to lead the observer around the sky. This is a gradual, painless way to come to know the starry sky.

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Table of Contents

Discovering the Cosmos

  • Naturalists of the Night
  • The Starry Realm
  • The Universe in Eleven Steps
  • The Milky Way Galaxy
  • Hubble Deep Field
  • Backyard Astronomy
  • Sky Motions
  • Sky Measures
  • Big Dipper Signpost
  • Star Brightness
  • Constellations and Star Names
  • Star and Constellation Pronunciation Guide
  • Stars for all Seasons
  • The All-Sky Charts
  • The Spring Sky
  • The Summer Sky
  • Urban Myths of Stargazing
  • The Light-Pollution Factor
  • The Autumn
    Sky
  • The Winter Sky
  • The Ecliptic and the Zodiac
  • Stargazing Equipment
  • Selecting Binoculars
  • Telescopes
  • Frequently Asked Questions About Telescopes
  • Telescope Types
  • Computer-Age Scopes
  • Accessories
  • Eyepieces
  • Factors to Consider When Selecting a First Telescope
  • Probing the Depths
  • Double Stars
  • Using Your Night Eyes
  • Variable Stars
  • Star Clusters
  • Distances to Stars and Galaxies
  • Nebulas
  • Averted Vision
  • Globular Clusters
  • Galaxies
  • Telescope Experience
  • Designation of Sky Objects
  • Atlas of 20 Star Charts
  • The Planets
  • Astronomy From the City
  • Mercury
  • Venus
  • Mars
  • The Asteroid Belt
  • Jupiter
  • Saturn
  • The Outer Planets
  • Visibility of the Planets 2005-2018
  • Moon and Sun
  • Moon Maps
  • Observing the Sun
  • The Moon Illusion
  • Solar and Lunar Eclipses
  • Observing Eclipses
  • The Eclipse Cult
  • Eclipse Tables

  • Comets, Meteors and Auroras
  • Famous and Infamous Comets
  • Meteors
  • Auroras
  • Photographing the Night Sky
  • Astro-Imaging Revolution
  • Night-Sky Imaging Techniques
  • The Barn-Door Tracker
  • CCD Cameras
  • Southern Hemisphere Night Sky
  • Southern Sky Charts
  • Caribbean Night Sky
  • Resources

Index

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Preface

Preface

In the decades since the first edition of NightWatch appeared in 1983, more than a half a million copies have found their way into the hands of astronomy enthusiasts. For me, the most gratifying aspect of this successful publishing story is the feed-back I've received from so many backyard astronomers who say that the book was their primary guide during the crucial initial stages of their celestial explorations.

As in the previous revised editions, the overriding goal in this new expanded version has been to provide a complete first book of amateur astronomy. I wanted to retain the features that readers say they like, so I have not tampered with the basic structure and presentation. But extensive fine-tuning and up-dating have touched many pages. The most visible of the changes is the addition of a new chapter on the southern-hemisphere skies with a new set of charts styled after the northern-hemisphere ones in Chapter 4. This addition to the book is the direct result of requests from readers of previous editions.

As always with revised editions of my books, I have replaced many photos with either more relevant or simply superior images. Other changes include a major rewrite of the section describing astrophotography, because of the digital-imaging revolution, and a thorough update of amateur-telescope equipment and accessories to reflect many new goodies that have become available since the previous edition in 1998. Where necessary, lists and tables are updated throughout. As before, prices throughout the book are in U.S. dollars.

Although more people are now dabbling in recreational astronomy and the range and quality of equipment to pursue the hobby have never been better, a persistent foe of amateur astronomers is light pollution — the glare spilled from street lamps, outdoor-sign illumination, parking-lot lights, building security lights and outdoor fixtures around private residences and public buildings. Any one of these sources can ruin your backyard view of the night sky. Even if your observing site is protected from direct interference, outdoor lighting in general produces giant glowing domes over our cities and towns that have beaten back the stars.

Because the glow is visibly growing every year, those who seek the natural beauty of a dark night sky must flee ever farther into the country. For many aficionados, an evening of stargazing has become an expedition. But all is not gloom and doom. The dark cloud cast by light pollution has turned out to have an intriguing silver lining. Far from diminishing interest in astronomy, urban sky glow seems to have fueled it. When our grandparents were young, a view of the night sky strewn with stars and wrapped in the silky ribbon of the Milky Way could be seen from the front porch. Today, for most people, it is a relatively rare and exotic sight, something to be talked about and cherished as a memory.

Many family vacations now include plans for dark-site star-gazing. Each year, thousands of astronomy enthusiasts gather at conventions and summer "star parties" far from city lights to share their interest. In previous editions of NightWatch, I predicted that as urban glow inexorably marches deeper into the countryside, the 21st century will see the emergence of dark-skypreserves — areas intentionally set aside in state, provincial and national parks where there are no obtrusive lights and never will be. Well, it's already happening. At least half a dozen of these shrines to the glory of the starry night have been established (see "Astronomy Conventions and Star Parties" in Chapter 13), and many more will surely follow in the decades ahead.

Terence Dickinson
Yarker, Ontario
May 2006

Read More Show Less

Introduction

Preface

In the decades since the first edition of NightWatch appeared in 1983, more than a half a million copies have found their way into the hands of astronomy enthusiasts. For me, the most gratifying aspect of this successful publishing story is the feed-back I've received from so many backyard astronomers who say that the book was their primary guide during the crucial initial stages of their celestial explorations.

As in the previous revised editions, the overriding goal in this new expanded version has been to provide a complete first book of amateur astronomy. I wanted to retain the features that readers say they like, so I have not tampered with the basic structure and presentation. But extensive fine-tuning and up-dating have touched many pages. The most visible of the changes is the addition of a new chapter on the southern-hemisphere skies with a new set of charts styled after the northern-hemisphere ones in Chapter 4. This addition to the book is the direct result of requests from readers of previous editions.

As always with revised editions of my books, I have replaced many photos with either more relevant or simply superior images. Other changes include a major rewrite of the section describing astrophotography, because of the digital-imaging revolution, and a thorough update of amateur-telescope equipment and accessories to reflect many new goodies that have become available since the previous edition in 1998. Where necessary, lists and tables are updated throughout. As before, prices throughout the book are in U.S. dollars.

Although more people are now dabbling in recreational astronomy and the range and quality of equipment topursue the hobby have never been better, a persistent foe of amateur astronomers is light pollution -- the glare spilled from street lamps, outdoor-sign illumination, parking-lot lights, building security lights and outdoor fixtures around private residences and public buildings. Any one of these sources can ruin your backyard view of the night sky. Even if your observing site is protected from direct interference, outdoor lighting in general produces giant glowing domes over our cities and towns that have beaten back the stars.

Because the glow is visibly growing every year, those who seek the natural beauty of a dark night sky must flee ever farther into the country. For many aficionados, an evening of stargazing has become an expedition. But all is not gloom and doom. The dark cloud cast by light pollution has turned out to have an intriguing silver lining. Far from diminishing interest in astronomy, urban sky glow seems to have fueled it. When our grandparents were young, a view of the night sky strewn with stars and wrapped in the silky ribbon of the Milky Way could be seen from the front porch. Today, for most people, it is a relatively rare and exotic sight, something to be talked about and cherished as a memory.

Many family vacations now include plans for dark-site star-gazing. Each year, thousands of astronomy enthusiasts gather at conventions and summer "star parties" far from city lights to share their interest. In previous editions of NightWatch, I predicted that as urban glow inexorably marches deeper into the countryside, the 21st century will see the emergence of dark-skypreserves -- areas intentionally set aside in state, provincial and national parks where there are no obtrusive lights and never will be. Well, it's already happening. At least half a dozen of these shrines to the glory of the starry night have been established (see "Astronomy Conventions and Star Parties" in Chapter 13), and many more will surely follow in the decades ahead.

Terence Dickinson
Yarker, Ontario
May 2006

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Interviews & Essays

Exclusive Author Essay
I remember reading my first astronomy book in my school library at age eight. I had been fascinated by the stars ever since I had seen a bright meteor as a preschooler. But now I could read well enough to begin to discover the wonders of the universe for myself.

I recall eagerly turning the book's pages and coming upon a section that told me that stars are really suns, just like our sun, but at colossal distances. I found this fact so mind-blowing that I ran around the neighborhood telling everyone this amazing thing I had just learned. My enthusiasm was met with polite disinterest by adults and impolite ridicule by my school chums, who wondered why I was telling them something so boring. But for me it set alight a fire in the mind.

I pestered my parents for years until they bought me a small telescope for Christmas. I almost wore it out observing the heavens, summer and winter, from our suburban backyard. Later, I bought a better scope, then built an even bigger one. I was thoroughly hooked. There was no doubt in my mind that astronomy was my calling, and I was ready to answer the call!

The call came in 1966, 15 years after I read that first astronomy book in the school library. I was hired as staff astronomer and lecturer at Toronto's new state-of-the-art McLaughlin Planetarium. It was the perfect job for an astronomy addict. Every day under the planetarium's great projection star dome I extolled the wonder and beauty of the stars and constellations to audiences of up to 350 visitors. In the planetarium classroom I taught courses on astronomy and backyard stargazing to both adults and children. For me it was a dream come true.

But one thing puzzled me. When I looked around for a stargazing guidebook that I could recommend to beginners, everything I found was either too superficial or else overly technical. I wondered why the authors weren't using plain language and uncluttered illustrations to focus on what those people in my classes, and others like them, really wanted to know. Subjects such as the easiest way to find celestial objects, and how to select and use binoculars and small telescopes to observe them, seemed to be begging for improved treatment. This bothered me to the point that I decided to do something about it.

In the late 1970s, after working for more than a decade at two planetariums and as editor of Astronomy magazine, I decided to devote myself full time to astronomy writing -- including the development of the definitive beginner's stargazing guidebook. By a stroke of good timing, a publisher who had seen my work in a nature magazine approached me about writing such a book. Thus, NightWatch was born in 1983.

As I had hoped, NightWatch immediately filled a gap in the literature. It has become my flagship book, and one of the bestselling stargazing guides in the world. For the Third Edition, I updated every page and included more than 100 new photos and illustrations. My other major stargazer's "bible" is The Backyard Astronomer's Guide, a more in-depth treatment than NightWatch that I coauthored with Alan Dyer of the Calgary Planetarium. Another book I am particularly proud of is The Universe and Beyond, which is more an illustrated tour of the universe rather than a stargazing guide, making it a good companion to NightWatch.

Over the years I have been a professional astronomy communicator, interest in the subject has exploded. A once-obscure hobby interest two generations ago, astronomy today appeals to a broad cross section of the population. It has been an honor to be a part of that revolution. (Terence Dickinson)

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Great beginner book

    This book is an excellent beginner's guide to observing with a telescope or binoculars. Plenty of introductory material on telescopes, accessories, observing in general, and astronomical objects.Very nice, simplified star maps of the more interesting areas of the sky with good notes on what to look for.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 4, 2010

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    Posted November 27, 2008

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    Posted August 7, 2009

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    Posted December 5, 2009

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