Reviews - What do customers think about A Constellation Album: Stars and Mythology of the Night Sky?
Really nice book Jul 13, 2008
I'm really happy to have this book because David H. Levy is a person who gave me so much passion in astronomy. I like his books very much. It is true that "Star trails is a look into the minds and hearts of the people who have madw a difference in how we study and enjoy the sky". Thank you David for this book.
Beautiful and useful May 14, 2008
This is a gorgeous little book. The guts of the book are 45 sharp, well-reproduced wide-field photos of constellations with constellation lines and art on transparent overlays. Each photo is accompanied by a page of text that outlines the basic shape of the constellation, notable stars and deep-sky objects, and the history and mythology of the constellation. The photos are arranged by season, and each season has its own introduction, with one page about the appearance of the constellations and another about the myths associated with the constellations of that season. There is a separate introduction to the entire book that covers the basics of stargazing.
Each season has an all-sky map that puts the constellations into context. These maps will look familiar to anyone who has picked up Sky & Telescope recently, or any of their spate of recent books. I'm fine with that, because I'm a big fan of those maps, and with such good ones available there is no reason for S&T not to standardize throughout their publishing lineup.
The book is solidly constructed. The paper is heavy and glossy throughout, and the transparent overlays are also heavy. It's spiral bound and it's fat; the spiral is about an inch in diameter. I haven't had any problems with the pages hanging up on the spirals or the book not wanting to close correctly, which are frequent problems with spiral-bound books.
Be aware that this is not an observing guide. It's spiral bound to lay flat so that you can read the text and look at the photos and overlays at the same time, not so it will sit flat on the table next to your telescope. The book is not detailed enough to serve as an observing guide, and it is too heavy and too pretty to take outside anyway. If you're looking for something to hold in your hands while you learn the constellations outdoors, I recommend a good planisphere or another book from Sky & Telescope: Ken Hewitt-White's Patterns in the Sky. Also, the book does not cover all 88 officially-recognized constellations, just those visible from mid-northern latitudes plus a couple of greatest hits from the southern hemisphere.
So why only four stars? In the copy I got, a couple of the overlays are poorly aligned with the underlying photos, so matching up patterns to stars is a challenge. Because the paper and transparency material is so heavy, it is nearly impossible to simply slide the overlay into position, at least without risking some damage to the middle edges where the pages are punched for the spiral binding. This is a pretty minor complaint--almost all of the overlays are spot on, and the two that are off aren't useless, they're just...off. Maybe I'm spoiled by the quality of books these days, but considering that the overlays are the raison d'etre of the book it would have been nice to have perfect alignment throughout.
Who is this book for? Beginning stargazers who want to learn a little more about the craft and the subject matter--or who would like to practice picking the constellations out of a starfield during the day or on cloudy nights (by pulling up the overlays to expose the naked sky), those with more experience who want to meet up again with old friends, or anyone looking for a beautiful and beautifully made book about the stars.