After months parked in front of a computer, I’m thrilled to announce the publication of my new book. The full title is — get ready for this — Wonders of the Night Sky You Must See Before You Die: The Guide to Extraordinary Curiosities of Our Universe. In a a nutshell, it’s a bucket list of cosmic things I think everyone should see sometime in their life.
You know me. I’ve always been about getting out there and looking up. So I thought hard about the essential “must-sees” for any watcher of the skies. Some are obvious like a total solar eclipse or Saturn through a telescope, but others are just as interesting but more off the beaten path.
For instance, we always hear about asteroids in the news. What does a real one look like from your own backyard? I give directions and a map for seeing the brightest of them, Vesta. And if you’ve ever looked up at the Big Dipper and wondered how to find the rest of the Great Bear, I’ll get you there. I love red stars, so you’re going to find out where the reddest resides and how to see it yourself.
The 57 different sights are mix of naked eye objects plus ones requiring an ordinary pair of binoculars or small telescope. At the end of each chapter I provide directions on how and when to find each wonder. Because we live in an online world with so wonderful tools available, I make extensive use of mobile phone apps that allow any skywatcher to stay in touch with nearly every aspect of the night sky.
For the things that need a telescope, the Resources section at the back of the book has suggestions and websites where you can purchase a nice but inexpensive instrument. Of course, you may not want to buy a telescope. That’s OK. I’m certain you’ll still enjoy reading about each of these amazing sights to learn more about what’s up there and how the different parts of the universe fit together.
While most of the nighttime sights are visible from your home or a suitable dark sky site, you’ll have to travel to see others. Who doesn’t like to get out of the house once in a while? If you travel north or south, new places mean new stars and constellations. I included choice southern treats like Alpha Centauri, the Southern Cross and the Magellanic Clouds, the closest and brightest galaxies to our own Milky Way but only visible from southern latitudes.
One of my favorite parts of the book is the Epilogue where I share a lesson my dog taught me about cosmic time. I like to joke that if nothing else, it’s worth the price of the book.
Wonders of the Night Sky is a beautiful book to look at. Jill, Elizabeth and friends at Page Street Publishing did a wonderful job with the layout and design. Everyone who’s flipped through it likes the feel — it even smells good! And for those who understandably complained that the typeface in my first book Night Sky with the Naked Eye made it difficult to read, I’ve got good news for you. The new book’s type is much more eye-friendly.
Wonders is 224 pages long, printed in full color and the same size as my previous book. Unlike the few but longer chapters of the first book, the new one has many shorter chapters, and you can dip in anywhere. I think you’ll love it.
The publication date is April 24, but you can pre-order it right now at Amazon, BN and Indiebound and have it delivered to your door in plenty of time to guide you to Mars and other objects that will be putting on great appearances this spring and summer. Starting April 24, you’ll can stop by your neighborhood Barnes & Noble for a copy.
If you live in the Duluth area, I’ll be signing books soon at several bookstores, the local planetarium and where I work. Dates coming soon! I look forward to sharing the sky with all of you through this new book. Thank you for your support!