This is the time of year when amateur astronomers and stargazers start scanning their local newsagents’ and bookshops’ shelves for the “Sky Guides” for the coming year. When I have them all in my hands (just waiting for The Sky At Night magazine’s guide to appear in Kendal’s WH Smiths) I’ll review them all in one post, but I wanted to give a heads up that the one I found most useful and practical last year is now available: the Astronomy Now 2017 Yearbook, shown above, with a snoring Peggy beside it for scale.
I loved this guide last year because it was very well put together, lavishly illustrated, and the text is written so informally and chattily, with honesty and humour missing from other guides, that reading it was like having an astronomer friend there explaining things to you patiently, at your own pace. I said last year that its simplicity makes this the most useful guide for beginners of all the guides available, and that seems to be the case again this year, although obviously I can’t say that for sure until that Sky At Night guide is out.
The Yearbook follows a familiar format – a chapter for each month, with a sky chart showing the positions of the Moon and planets, plus notes on sights and events on view in the night sky. There are also features on space missions, planets and astronomy.
One special thing this guide has going for it is its charts and illustrations drawn by AN’s artist Greg Smye Rumsby. They are simple and realistic, uncluttered with too many lines, labels and symbols, which means they show what the sky actually looks like when you’re looking out for conjunctions, etc.
So, if you want to know what’s going to be on view “up there” in 2017, now’s the time to get out there and buy yourself a Guide or a Yearbook. Full review to follow when they’re all published.
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