“Night Sky with the Naked Eye: your guide to the stars without a telescope” – a review

These are truly exciting days for those loving the sky and looking up every clear night. Breathtaking discoveries and mind blowing images, made with state-of-the-art, extremely expensive instrumentation, fill the news and the internet everyday, everywhere, feeding our feeling of awe and reverence for the beauty of the Universe where we live.

But this has an important side effect, though: we are left with the impression that nothing so wonderful is accessible to us, having poor or no instruments at all. To the point that we limit ourselves to look at those stunning images, apparently coming from an inaccessible, abstract and different world than the one where we live.

"Night Sky with the Naked Eye", a book by Bob King

“Night Sky with the Naked Eye”, a book by Bob King

But a recent book written by Bob King, an avid and very experienced observer, will blow these impressions away, bringing to you a new spirit and a new feeling: there is no less than the whole Universe out there, ready to impress you with its beauty, even if you have the most simple and precious “tool” you might have: your very own eyes!

Bob King is well-known to those involved in astronomical observations: he runs a nice blog, “Astro Bob“, and is also a contributing editor of Sky & Telescope and Universe Today. As soon as something special pops up in the sky, Bob is there telling us how to exploit and enjoy it at its best.

Last November, Bob published a book titled “Night Sky With the Naked Eye“, with the goal clearly remarked in its subtitle: “How to Find Planets, Constellations, Satellites and Other Night Sky Wonders Without a Telescope”. The book has 224 pages, with a format of 8 x 8.9 inches, and a lot of color drawings and photos.

As soon as I learned that this book was coming, I pre-ordered it on Amazon, as I really like Bob King’s style and writing and of course I loved the topic, too. The book arrived when expected and I started reading it immediately.

My first impressions were very positive: handling the book is a pleasure, it is really well done. Printing is of great quality and all the drawings and photos are very well presented.

The book is organized in ten chapters, which can be read in the order you wish, jumping to the topic you really want to explore and learn about. The first step climbs to artificial satellites, of course including the International Space Station, with plenty of information to enjoy the most spectacular events and say “Ciao!” to the astronauts. An entire chapter is devoted to what you need to enjoy  your observing adventure: here, Bob’s experience is ready to help, with suggestions covering the best clothes to face a long observing night, tools and choices to maximize your enjoyment and comfort.

Then you will explore many other topics: after realizing that Earth is rotating and orbiting the Sun, with easy but intriguing observing proposals to exploit this in a very interesting way, you are introduced to some fascinating concepts related to the stars and learn how to recognize planets and their movements while they dance through the Zodiac. Shooting stars, as well as aurorae, eclipses, halos and more also well covered, with many tips to succeed in their observation.

Bob King takes care to share with us what you can see up there through the seasons, finding the most famous and interesting stars, pushing our eyes to their limits and locate star clusters and more, even beyond our Milky Way.

Going through this book, you feel like if an expert, friendly and patient companion is out there with you, making his best to help you probing and enjoying the night sky.

The author’s style is also, to me, so nice and captivating. To be honest, this was not a surprise, knowing Bob’s writing so well, but this is something I wanted to underline, as it really adds a lot to the book.

Reading “Night Sky With the Naked Eye” was a sincere pleasure and a joy for me. While I can easily define myself a very experienced observer, I appreciated to be invited by Bob to see again those stunning, but easy phenomena, with unique and precious inputs you will not easily find elsewhere. He added a new flavor to something I knew and it will be an amazing opportunity for everyone loving what shines up there at night

This is a book I would have loved to write, but Bob did it much better than I could, so I’m extremely happy to suggest you to go and buy it.

Gianluca Masi
Virtual Telescope Project

For English readersPer i lettori Italiani

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