Exploring the Night Sky with Binoculars
An excellent introduction to observational astronomy for beginners of any age. Award winner from the New York Academy of sciences Children's Science Book Award. Although not originally intended for children, the subject matter is clearly presented for readers of any age. Basics included range from how to choose binoculars to how we are located in our universe and what objects are readily accessible with household binoculars.
This compact little book covers both what can be seen in the sky and the significance of what is seen. Although it was not written explicitly for children, it received honorable mention in the New York Academy of Sciences Children’s Science Book Awards (older children’s division). It is beautifully illustrated with specially commissioned artwork by renowned space artist Don Davis. Besides being a starter book for beginners, it is used in a number of colleges as a textbook supplement for the first-week’s reading assignment!
Illustrations are as Important as Text
The artwork of Don Davis, commissioned especially for this book, is not just an attempt to “approximate” photography: it represents what is seen to the eye better than a photograph can. Shown here is the subtle glow of the “North American Nebula” approximating very well what is actually seen in binoculars. This is one of the most challenging objects presented in the book, but a very satisfying object to see with ones own eyes. Photographs show this to be a spectacular nebula, but they can mislead a visual observer, especially a beginner. What can be perceived visually are subtle “variations in the blackness.”The nebula is quite large, making a pair of binoculars, rather than a high powered telescope, the best viewing instrument. To find this nebula (visible only in a sky dark enough to show the Milky Way), start from Deneb, the bright star in the tail of Cygnus, the flying swan, and look for the dark cloud forming the Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico. The faint surrounding glow, with the general shape of North America, can then be detected by contrast.