Friday, July 27, 2012

Review: The Stargazer's Guide to the Night Sky ~ Dr. Jason Lisle

This is just the book I've been looking for; something down-to-earth enough for beginners yet technical enough that we will continue to advance in our learning and understanding.  We love gazing at stars and searching for common constellations, stars, and visible planets like Mars and Venus.

Chapters cover Motions in the Sky (basic & advanced), Understanding the Eye, Astronomy with the Unaided Eye, Celestial Events, Telescope Basics, Telescope Observing Sessions, The Moon and the Sun, The Planets, Star Classification and Telescope Viewing, Deep Sky Objects, and Astrophotography.

How thrilled I was to read that the best annual meteor shower occurs August 12-13 in the Northern Hemisphere.  That's only a few weeks away!  As I was laying in bed last night, thinking about it, I wondered how plausible it is that we will see anything or be awake enough to haul ourselves out of bed when it gets a little bit dark to go watch.  For those fortunate enough to live somewhere where it actually gets dark at night - enjoy!  We may just have to wait for the second best annual showing that peaks on December 14; the Geminid meteor shower.  By then, I sure hope we see our fair share of the northern lights too!

Reading about everything we can't see with the naked eye and the detail you can see up close with a good telescope has me wishing that we had access to someone's expensive piece of equipment!  Amazing photos are found throughout the book so even without that telescope, you're given a wealth of visual stimulation.  Just laying out in a field, on a beach, or in your backyard away from city lights is a delight as you gaze at God's canvas.

We had the added benefit of visiting the Creation Museum in Kentucky last year.  If you have the opportunity to visit, be sure to view any (ie. all) of their planetarium productions that happen to be playing at that time.  What a blessing to watch and listen to a non-evolutionary based teaching of Astronomy.

Dr. Lisle's book has multiple star charts towards the end for reference.  While he doesn't refer to iTunes/Apple apps they're another great way to search out stars, planets, galaxies, clusters, and everything else you read about in his book. Our iPad has two apps, The Night Sky and Star Walk.  If you are trying to figure out which one to purchase, I would choose Star Walk as it has a lot more to offer.  Just hold your iPad up to the sky and it will show you in live-time what you are looking at.  You can zoom in to see cosmic sites even further into the vastness of space.  Just as Star Walk will make you more familiar with the sky around you, The Stargazer's Guide to the Night Sky will increase your knowledge about the where's, how's, and why's of your stargazing adventures.

What a creative God to create everything from microscopic single-celled organisms to the unimaginable grandness of space and all it contains.  Yet, in all of it...He chose us.  Created in His own image.  He commands the galaxies to obey Him but won't force us to love Him.  He is our ever-forgiving Father who desires our love not because we have to love Him, but because we want to.  No wonder the stars worship Him in their beauty.

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