If you’re still looking for that last-minute gift for the astronomy fan in your life (and let’s be honest; that may very well be yourself — I won’t tell) may I suggest this little gem: The Star Book: How to Understand Astronomy published by David & Charles.
The latest book by amateur astronomer and astrophotographer Peter Grego, The Star Book is 157 pages of astronomy goodness, jam-packed with everything from star charts for all major 88 constellations (for both northern and southern sky gazers) to the latest photos and information about all sorts of cosmic objects — nebulae, galaxies, planets, meteors, etc. — as well as a brief history about the study of astronomy throughout the ages.
A convenient color-coding system helps to navigate through the book, dividing it up into sections for topics like sky visibility for northern winter, northern summer, southern summer, deep-sky objects, etc., and the layout itself is bold, attractive and easy to scan through for important information. Its relatively compact size (this isn’t some heavyweight coffee-table tome) means you can easily toss it into a backpack and take it out skywatching, but it’s big enough so you won’t be squinting at charts in the dark, either.
Gorgeous photographs from NASA abound, but there’s also many wonderful images from amateur astrophotographers as well, like Nick Howes, Peter Vasey, and Peter Grego himself. British astrophysicist Sir Arnold Wolfendale, emeritus professor at Durham University, provides a glowing foreword.
“If you can see it in the sky then there’s something in this book to tell you more,” Sir Wolfendale writes.