At this time of every year I go hunting in my local bookshops and newsagents for guides to the next year’s sky. I know, I know, I can use my computer or tablet – and now my phone – as my own personal TARDIS and go forwards in time to see what’s going to happen in the sky at any time in the future, not just over the next twelve months, but somehow there’s still no substitute for sitting down with a cup of tea, a mince pie and one of these guides, and leafing through it to see what celestial sights and treats I’m going to miss in the next year because of the crap Cumbrian weather..! 🙂
I’m not sure if Collins and the RGO have produced this slim (96 page) paperback-sized guide every year, but this is certainly the first time I’ve come across it, and I have to say I’m impressed. It’s not flash, it just Does The Job efficiently and with a minimum of fuss. It follows the familiar and successful format of opening with a basic “beginners guide to the night sky” – how it works, how it changes, what stars are, etc – and then looks at each month in turn. For each month there are charts (drawn by master celestial cartographer Wil Tirion) showing the night sky to the north and to the south, a calendar of astronomical events, plus smaller diagrams showing the month’s Moon phases and any striking or important arrangements of the Moon and planets which will occur during that month.
Storm Dunlop’s text is aimed at the beginner, and is informative and clear, no clutter here either.
So, all in all, I can definitely recommend this 2014 Sky Guide. If you’re an experienced amateur astronomer it won’t replace your favourite computer planetarium software, or your favourite phone app, but it is definitely a very handy reference guide to have at hand. But if you’re just starting out in the hobby – or want to buy a gift for someone who is – then it’s a good buy.
2014 Guide To The Night Sky
Authors: Storm Dunlop and Wil Tirion
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