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Actual size of book: over 9" x 12"; all photographs in full color.
A Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee
Now in its Eighth Printing
Good Reviews: 27
Bad Reviews: 1
Read an Excerpt from SEE THE STARS!
Save the complicated star charts for later. With See the Stars, it's easy for you to experience the twelve best and brightest star patterns in the sky. On a clear night, just open to the page for the month you're in, look at an actual color photograph of the constellation, and face the direction given. You'll enjoy one of the sky's most amazing star patterns, including:
Orion (January). Learn why stars are different colors, and see a cloud of gas and dust where new stars are being born.
The Big Dipper (February). This easy-to-find star pattern points the way to many other sights, including the North Star, and it has an amazing double star of its own.
Leo (March). Find the mighty lion, whose heart is marked by a bright, blue star, Regulus.
Bootes (April). A bright, orange star named Arcturus shows what our Sun will look like billions of years from now.
Lyra (May). This small constellation has one of the brightest stars of all, beautiful Vega.
Cygnus (June). Watch out for two black holes--mysterious dead stars from which nothing can escape.
Scorpius (July). Find bright, red Antares, a star that rivals the beauty of the planet Mars.
Sagittarius (August). Use this teapot pattern to find the center of our Galaxy.
Cassiopeia (September). Here shines a yellow star like our Sun. Does it support alien life?
Perseus (October). Find Algol, a star that fades and brightens every 2 days and 21 hours.
Auriga (November). Can you see Epsilon Aurigae? Once every 27 years, something huge passes in front of it, dimming it for two years at a time.
Taurus (December). Here are the two best star clusters in the sky--plus a star that points the way to the edge of our Galaxy's disk of stars.
"This is a book I wish I had at age 11 when I was a novice stargazer. Croswell provides the perfect balance of essential details to set the beginning stargazer on the right track."
--Terence Dickinson, author of NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing to Viewing the Universe
"This book is one of the very best and most original ever written on constellation identification for kids or for anyone who is a complete beginner. Books like this come along maybe only once every decade or two. Highly recommended."
--Fred Schaaf, Sky and Telescope columnist and author of 40 Nights to Knowing the Sky
See the Stars by Ken Croswell, however, is exactly what its cover, flaps, and publicity material claim it to be, and then some more. It is a "how-to" book aimed at readers over eight which really does get them outside, looking up, and finding the constellations described.
Twelve double-page spreads feature a constellation for each month of the year. On the right page is a "where and when to look" box, a line drawing, and a description of the star pattern; opposite is a large and stunning celestial photo of the constellation in question. Extra information worked into the text means that by the end of the book you've not only learnt twelve constellations in detail but also about stellar temperatures and colours, double stars, the zodiac, the Milky Way, and the planets.
The choice of constellations is no surprise: Croswell has picked the best and brightest star patterns in the sky. All twelve are ideal for readers between latitudes 30 and 50 degrees north. UK readers will miss out during the months of July and August when Scorpius and Sagittarius are featured. The beauty of the book is that Croswell has restricted himself to just the twelve, giving the reader a feeling of real achievement on seeing these constellations.
A whole year would have been needed to test and review this book thoroughly but two months was the maximum allowed by the Editors. So, with only a Cub Scout Astronomy Badge between them, my 10 and 12 year olds tested it out. They found their way around the book and then the sky with ease. Yet they weren't the first to do this. As Croswell wrote the book, his instructions were field-tested by his non-astronomical editor, then the editor's colleagues, friends, and various offspring. This thorough and rare testing of the text and its subsequent tweaking before publication has really paid off.
Croswell has a friendly, easy style which is already familiar to American readerships. He has introduced children to astronomy through articles and radio scripts written just for them, has authored three books for adults, and is a regular contributor to magazines and newspapers. See the Stars has a "no frills" approach to its subject and provides simple, straightforward help. The book looks a touch old-fashioned next to the UK design-led factual books produced for children in the past ten years. But for a book that really works, choose this one.
Because the author, Ken Croswell, knows that it's sometimes hard to find a place without light pollution, every constellation in this book can be seen with the naked eye (though admittedly, some might be easier to spot than others). Croswell gives detailed--and easy-to-read--accounts of the origins of constellations, nebulae, black holes, and other forms of stars, separated into sections by the month they'll appear. Photographs of the night sky help kids see for themselves what they're looking for, without the confusion of star charts and intensive scientific language.
Besides, you can finally prove to your kids that there are stars other than those in Hollywood.
The author does a very good job of explaining the different constellations included in the guide at an appropriate level for a child. On the whole the language is not too difficult bearing in mind that the book has been written for American children who tend to have a larger vocabulary and seem to have a better grasp of more complex sentences than English children of the same age. This means that in areas, the language used is quite complicated.
Fortunately, the diagrams that support the text are clear, concise, and easy to understand. Unlike most books, the constellations in this book are shown separately from each other which makes it easier to see the pattern the stars in a constellation make. You are also told why the constellations have the names they do and the variants on these names. Practical and simple tips are given on how to go about stargazing and you are told when you can see particular constellations and at what time, although the exact positions and times will vary from the USA to the British Isles.
On the whole, this book has been well-written and presented with children in mind. It has also the added charm of being interesting for teenagers and possibly even adults who wish to learn alongside their children about the night sky, without being condescending. This book could make a very good Christmas present.
--Sue Bowler and Elizabeth McCaig
Clear color photographs and simple charts detail one star pattern for each month of the year, including Leo the Lion, Orion the Hunter, and Taurus the Bull. The stars in each constellation are carefully labeled to help you match them with the stars in the sky.
The author, who has a doctorate in astronomy from Harvard University, incorporates broad views of astronomy with a child-like sense of wonder. For October, Croswell describes Perseus the Hero:
"Perseus possesses a star that astrologers of the Middle Ages thought was dangerous, because the brightness of its light varies. Its name, Algol, even means `the Ghoul.' Algol's light varies because it has two stars that go around each other. One is brighter than the other. Every 2 days and 21 hours, the fainter star eclipses the brighter one, so Algol fades. Then, a few hours later, the brighter star emerges from behind the fainter one, and Algol brightens."
The stimulating, useful guide is targeted toward Mainland stargazers, but it states, "If you live in Florida, Hawaii, or southern China then you can also use this book, but there will be times when you won't be able to see the Big Dipper and Cassiopeia."
--Jolie Jean Cotton
With a Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard University, Croswell first became interested in the subject the day his first grade teacher introduced his class to the planets of the solar system. He has retained that love of the planets and stars and now shares his knowledge of locating them in easy-to-understand language that both young and old can comprehend.
Giving detailed instructions on the best ways to find the premium place to look for specific stars, and what equipment will be needed (a simple pair of binoculars and some warm clothing is all that's necessary), Croswell shows how easy it is to observe the wondrous world of the cosmos.
The information in See the Stars is broken down into monthly segments. With the help of beautiful and clear constellation photographs, many obtained from NASA, Croswell explains when and where to look for the brightest stars of any particular month, as well as the names of the different stars and what colors they show. There's even a chart in the back that helps to identify the most prominent stars as well as planets in the sky, the constellation they belong to, and how far away they are from Earth.
See the Stars is a delightful book that would be a perfect gift for that budding astronomer, and a real help for the befuddled parent who can't quite remember where Orion's famous belt might be on any given night.
--Sharon Galligar Chance
Croswell's enthusiasm permeates the book as he describes the special features within the constellations. His memorable treatment provides a lasting impression of star patterns.
Croswell also offers an introduction to skylore and a taste of astronomical theory that is sure to spark further interest in stargazing. A flow chart at the back of See the Stars serves as an identification tool for planets and adds an informative final touch to this beginners' guide.
Le livre a été pensé pour des lecteurs vivant entre 30 et 50 degrés de latitude Nord. La Belgique se trouve donc juste en dehors de cette zone ce qui implique que deux constellations du sud, le Scorpion de le Sagittaire seront plus difficiles à voir.
Pour chaque constellation, l'auteur donne un texte explicatif ainsi qu'un tableau indiquant vers quelle heure on peut le mieux voir la constellation au cours du mois.
Les deux dernières pages de ce livre court sont consacrées d'une part aux planètes et d'autre part à une liste des étoiles les plus brillantes. Pour les planètes, l'auteur propose un organigramme permetant de reconnaître aisément Vénus, Mars, Jupiter, et Saturne à l'aide de jumelles. Si l'on aurait préféré un format plus réduit et plus pratique pour l'emporter avec soi, il s'agit sans aucun doute d'un bel outil pour une première exploration du ciel boréal.
If the answer to either of these two questions is yes, then the author of See the Stars has some help for you. Author Ken Croswell wants you to grab his book and head outside to learn your first constellation.
Constellations are the mythological and historical roots of astronomy, not the scientific roots. By their very nature, they are just visual constructs of our imagination. Teaching constellations is a concrete and compelling place to start in astronomy, and this book makes this learning easy and enjoyable, with no prerequisites except a clear sky and an open mind.
The outline is extremely simple. For each month of the year, the author lays out the following information on two pages:
1. A real photograph of that month's constellation (not a drawing, but a photograph--the real deal!).
2. A diagram illustrating the constellation's outline by connecting the stars.
3. A table listing where the constellation is located in the sky, by time and date.
4. Several paragraphs explaining the constellation, its constituent stars, noteworthy deep sky objects, and occasional bits of mythology.
The beauty of this book is you don't need any extra equipment. No telescopes, binoculars, or additional star maps are needed to learn the constellations. The author instructs the reader to grab a flashlight (red light preferred), the book, and head outside. Once there, open the book to that month's constellation, orient the photograph in the direction given, and look for the constellation in the location given in the table.
Using April as an example with the date being April 20th:
1. Walk outside and orient the photograph so the "Turn photograph so that this edge faces north" actually faces north.
2. Consult the table. It says we should face east at 9:00 PM.
3. Look for the constellation Bootes' brightest star, Arcturus.
Want to look at another constellation? No problem. The author encourages the reader to flip forward and backward to the constellations immediately prior to and immediately following the current month. These constellations will be up in the sky. Simply consult that month's table and look in the direction given.
Taking our example a step further, if we are looking at Bootes on the April page, we can also look at Leo (March constellation) and Lyra (May constellation).
Ken's commentary is aimed squarely at the beginner. Ken assumes you don't have any background in astronomy. His descriptions and explanations are both enthusiastic and interesting. Here is a sample of the text:
"As stars go, Arcturus is nearby, just 37 light-years from Earth. So the light you see tonight left Arcturus 37 years ago. Arcturus is different from the Sun, for it is a giant, a star that is bigger and brighter than the Sun. It sends out more than a hundred times more light. A billion years ago, though, Arcturus was a yellow star that resembled the Sun. The Sun shines because nuclear reactions at its center turn hydrogen into helium and make energy. But Arcturus's center ran out of hydrogen, so the star began burning hydrogen outside its center. This new energy source caused the star to expand, brighten, and cool, and it turned from yellow to orange."
Overall I find this book to be an innovative introduction to learning the stars. I applaud the author's hands-on approach. By skipping lengthy introductory chapters, the author fast-tracks the reader into enjoying the night sky. Later, once the beginner has caught the astronomy bug, they can sit back and read the theoretical stuff on Cloudy Nights.
Could the author better the book? Yes, in two small ways.
First, the diagram of the constellation should show the surrounding constellations. By omitting the surrounding constellations, the reader may become lost for lack of road marks. Surrounding constellations give the reader some points of reference when looking up at that very large sky full of stars.
Second, the photographs of the constellations would be easier to understand if the stars were connected via an overlay of lines. For some beginners, the picture of the constellation may not be enough for them to determine the constellation's shape. Think of an inkblot test and you get the idea. While they can easily look at the accompanying diagram, I feel this extra step would be helpful in discerning the constellation's form.
However, don't let these two little nits deter you from getting this book. I feel this book is an invaluable resource for those wishing to get outside and learn a few constellations. This book is a great hands-on introduction to the constellations that is suitable for kids or adults. If you are looking for a tool to introduce children to the joy of astronomy, this is a great first step that doesn't involve costly equipment, travel to a planetarium, or explanations of what FOV is.
Rated for children ages eight and up, See the Stars is an excellent first guide to observing. Organized by month, each month features a single constellation. A 9 x 12-inch labeled, colour photograph of the constellation faces a page containing a smaller line drawing, a chart listing the dates and approximate times of several viewing opportunities, and a half page of text.
Each section reveals a new concept along with reinforcement of several basics, such as star colour and its relation to temperature, the light-year, and differences in star brightness. Some point of interest for each constellation is emphasized. While variables, double stars, nebulae, and clusters are listed, the description is not limited to the specifics of the constellation, but rather explores what can be said about the constellation as a whole as well.
Orientation is covered on several scales. Sunrise and sunset are given as tools to define points on the horizon. While an important feature of the Big Dipper is its use in finding the North Star, the reader is reminded of its unique visibility year 'round here in the northern hemisphere.
For each month's observations, Ken Croswell has selected twelve of the brightest and best star patterns. For example, the teapot pattern of Sagittarius in August houses the centre of our Galaxy. In October, by turning our gaze outward to the double cluster of Perseus, we learn about the basic shape of the Milky Way's spiral arms.
Four constellations that lie on the ecliptic, each marked with "planet alert," introduce the plane of the solar system and the concept of change in the night sky. A basic algorithm given at the back of the book helps to identify planets spotted with the unaided eye. Aspects of stellar birth and evolution are described in the section on the Orion Nebula, Arcturus is identified as a more mature version of the Sun, and the unified motion across the line of sight of many of the stars within the Big Dipper is noted as suggesting their common origin.
See the Stars includes stories about how the constellations are represented in legend, as well as notes about the meanings of many star names. There are even suggestions for observing such as dressing warmly and being careful about safety factors, as well as an introduction to the star-hopping technique. The constellations are easily identified when the photograph is used in conjunction with the accompanying line drawing. The book presents astronomy as something that can be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in nature. It also has great potential to get observers outside throughout the entire year. The text is straightforward and non-technical, and with its sprinkling of basic science to promote the interpretation of one's observations, See the Stars will surely pique the interest of young readers. Parents interested in introducing their child to science or encouraging a science-based hobby should consider this book a great place to start.
See the Stars would be excellent to use as a resource for added information and to help keep students challenged. Anyone interested in the constellations and stars will want this book.
A nice addition to each page is the smaller drawing of the night sky with only the constellation stars drawn to help readers visually adapt to the real thing. The "Where and When to Look" chart reveals that the constellations can all be seen somewhere in the sky each month of the year.
Croswell offers preliminary advice on how to use this book and get outside to see the stars. He is conversational and easy-to-follow in his presentation. Each constellation photo page is meant to be taken outside and used to orient the reader to the night sky; hence most photo pages have a "this edge faces north" message to help the reader to see more. Granted, one may need a small flashlight to see the book and the night sky together.
I like the planet orientation flowchart at the end of the book, the brightest stars chart, and the index to keep us on track as we stargaze. This is a helpful addition to any collection of books about stars.
The book focuses on twelve constellations, one for each month of the year. A uniform format is followed throughout and consists of a telescopic color photograph of the constellation in the night sky with important features labeled, a black-and-white diagram of the constellation also with labels, a chart telling where and when to look, and several paragraphs of informative text.
This is a fun, simple, and inviting way to learn about the constellations, their stars, and related astronomical facts. Although this is designed as a beginners' guide for children, the average adult reader will likely learn from it as well and be encouraged to venture out on a starry night with a pair of binoculars.
Helpful aids included in the book are an introduction titled "A Galaxy of Stars," a guide on how to use the book, a chart for identifying planets, a table of the brightest stars, and an index.
This would be a great addition to a school library where the constellations are studied or where individual students have a keen interest in stargazing.
|KEN HOME||THE ALCHEMY OF THE HEAVENS||PLANET QUEST||MAGNIFICENT UNIVERSE||SEE THE STARS||THE UNIVERSE AT MIDNIGHT||MAGNIFICENT MARS||TEN WORLDS||THE LIVES OF STARS||DONATE|