3.5 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

We are fortunate that just north of us we have a designated dark skies area, Cranborne Chase where there is so little artificial light that the magnificent spectacle that is the night sky can be seen in all its glory. But knowing what each of those pinpricks of light is many lifetimes work for scientists and astronomers.

For the layperson, though it can be a bit overwhelming. The distances between each of the stars are mind-bogglingly large. I still can get my head around some of the numbers quoted from us to our nearest neighbouring star, Proxima Centauri. It is four light-years away and you can’t even see it unless you have a telescope!

To help find your way through the vastness of space, Andrew Newsam, Professor of Astronomy Education and Engagement has written this guide for those that want to know a little bit more about the heavens. He has split the book into five sections, a brief history of observation of the stars and planets, a chapter on the sun, the star that gives us heat and light and the solar system. He then moves onto other stars and then galaxies, before ending with a chapter going right back to the very beginnings of the universe when the big bang happened.

As an introduction to the sun, planets and stars that we can see from our pale blue dot, this is a great way of finding out a little bit more about them. Newsam writes in a way that is not too technical but is drawing on his experience as a Professor in the subject. If you are looking for more detail there are other books out there that will fill in the gaps. The only thing that I thought it was missing was a further reading section for those that want to use this as a stepping stone for more information about the particular astronomy subject that fascinates them.

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