Stargazing for Beginners:
How to Find Your Way
Around the Night Sky
It can be tough for beginners to learn the constellations. Standard star charts contain so much information that they are confusing, and even a simple planisphere can be intimidating to people not familiar with the tool. Those who haven't a clue about right ascension or relative magnitude can still learn the stars with this marvelous new guide from Lafcadio Adams.
Adams is a teacher in the Portland, Ore., area, and astronomy is her favorite subject—she has had a scale model of the solar system in her living room "since way back when Pluto was a planet." Adams wrote Stargazing for Beginners as a series of six lessons, each taking a look at a different part of the Northern Hemisphere sky. She recommends taking them in order, as each builds upon the learning of the preceding lesson. Each lesson features numerous clear, simple illustrations and photos that help the reader identify the constellations, using the familiar to point the way to the more obscure nearby.
Adams published the guide as an e-book for practical reasons. She figures a smart-phone or tablet device is easy to haul outside with you on a clear night. Set it on night-vision mode, fire upStargazing for Beginners, and find out what you're looking at. If you're old-school, you can get the PDF version and print it out. The guide is appropriate for most ages, understandable by budding stargazers as young as 7 or 8, but appealing to adults, too.
If you know Boötes or Lepus already you should proceed to a more in-depth sky guide. But beginning stargazers should grab a copy of Adams' book and start looking up.