A handy introduction to the visible night sky.
This neatly packaged guide covers stars and star patterns, planets that can be seen with the naked eye, the moon, and unusual sights including comets, meteor showers, satellites, and the northern (or southern) lights. The author, a London astrophysicist, provides clear explanations and instructions arranged in bite-sized text blocks on each informatively titled and jazzily designed double-page spread. There are specific directions for spotting individual stars and moon features, interesting historical tidbits, maps and photographs, and even sections called “astrofacts,” presented on the familiar outline of a tablet computer. Most useful and unusual are the "star-hopping" instructions, showing readers how to find their ways around the night sky using familiar stars and constellations. The handy zippered plastic cover makes this paperback suitable for taking on nighttime expeditions, but once young sky watchers have mastered the basics, they might prefer to leave it for home browsing and take just a planisphere (described but not included). Curiously, the text’s description of Mars’ temperatures seems to be at odds with itself (28 F is not “very pleasant and mild” in most readers’ minds), and overall, figures given for temperatures are so generalized as to be almost meaningless.
An inviting and accessible introduction to a lifetime of exploration. (Nonfiction. 7-12)