Book Beat: Skywatching

Submitted by B. Townsend on Tue, 03/08/2022 - 08:08

Do you love looking at night skies? Cloudy weather can ruin skywatching chances in the Pacific Northwest, but never fear! The library has books to help you explore the universe no matter the weather.

Here’s a stargazing guide for clear nights. “50 Things to See in the Sky” by Sarah Barker has basic viewing tips and illustrations to guide you to the Milky Way, shooting stars, Betelgeuse, the Pleiades, the International Space Station, and more. Barker also describes how to use binoculars or a telescope to find fainter features of the sky such as lunar craters or Martian ice caps.

If you’re willing to travel to find the best views, pack your bags and pick up a copy of “Dark Skies: A Practical Guide to Astrotourism” by Valerie Stimac. You’ll be guided to locations in the US and around the world where you can find dark skies, auroras, eclipses, rocket launches, or meteor showers.

Different cultures have looked at the skies in their own ways for millennia. In “Sharing the Skies: Navajo Astronomy,” authors David Begay and Nancy C. Maryboy compare the Navajo and Western views of constellations and cosmology. Through photos and diagrams, you’ll learn more about the Navajo worldview.

When I was young, I was fascinated by a photo of the Andromeda galaxy. The fascination is still there—and the available photos are much better! Space telescopes, lunar landings, and space probes have given us wonderful images, so let’s enjoy them—even if the skies are cloudy.

Happy reading, and happy stargazing!

Library tip of the month: Download or stream space courses, videos, and music for free with your library account.

  • On Kanopy, watch “Great Courses” videos including “The Remarkable Science of Ancient Astronomy,” “Radio Astronomy,” “Introduction to Astrophysics,” and “Life in Our Universe.”
  • On hoopla, watch the TV series “The Universe.”
  • On Freegal Music and hoopla, stream or download music including Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” and film music from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Star Trek,” and “Star Wars.”

A version of this column first appeared in The Messenger, March 2022.

Find more book columns in our Off the Shelf blog.