Since beginning my internship at Sky & Telescope in May, I’ve been considering whether or not I wanted to dig up an old telescope at my parents’ house in New Jersey and haul it up to Boston.
I am by no means a professional astronomer, and the last time I viewed the night sky with purpose was more than ten years ago in high school. I’m not too worried about figuring out how to use the telescope — that’s just a matter of reading the instructions — but what does worry me is what I should do after it’s all ready to go.
Deep-Sky Wonders by Sue French is the answer to my dilemma, and a goal that I can work toward as I begin my observing journey.
This book is a collection of Sue French’s Sky & Telescope magazine columns, which describe a plethora of galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae that you can observe in the night sky. The collection is organized by the season and month in which the objects are viewable and depicts them in simple, elegant prose that’s easy to follow. Although it’s aimed at advanced observers, there are some objects that can easily be seen through a 4-inch telescope or binoculars. And I know that when I reach the advanced level, I’ll be ready to tackle the sky with this book in hand.
The book serves as an inspiration, which is just as important as the information it provides. In addition to the beautiful pictures (and I’m a stickler for those) scattered throughout, French describes the history and properties of each object, making it come alive. In the end, I’m much more inspired to go outside and take a look for myself than I would be just from looking at a chart.
With Deep-Sky Wonders waiting on my bookshelf, all I need to do now is get on a train to New Jersey to get started on this new and exciting hobby.