Summary

Stargazing’s too much fun to leave to astronomers, but often we’re blinded by science—dry facts can easily turn enchantment into a chore. We just want to lie down, look up, and understand the heavens above. The National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Night Sky shows us how.

Authors Howard Schneider and Patricia Daniels take an expert but easygoing approach that doesn’t overwhelm—it invites. Ten chapters cover everything a beginning stargazer will need to know, from understanding the phases of the moon to picking Mars out of a planetary lineup to identifying the kinds of stars twinkling in the constellations.

Throughout the book, star charts and tables present key facts in an easy-to-understand format, sidebars and fact boxes present illuminating anecdotes and fun facts to sweep us swiftly into the stardust, and by the time we realize we’ve been schooled in solid science we’re too engrossed to object.

Along with practical advice and hands-on tips to improve observation techniques, the guide includes an appendix full of resources—from books and web sites to lists of astronomy clubs and associations to local planetariums and museums. This indispensable book guides us on a new path into the night sky, truly one of the greatest shows on Earth.