The Amateur Astronomer's Pathfinder
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Had the human race evolved on Venus there would be no books on astronomy, simply because there would be no subject called astronomy. Venus's atmosphere is so dense that there is no clear sky, so no starlight can penetrate the thick cloud cover and no planets can be seen. Fortunately, on Earth the atmosphere is transparent - though how long it will remain so may depend on our attitude to pollution - and everyone, to some extent, has the opportunity to investigate the universe of which we are such an infinitesimally small part. In fact, the amateur astronomer needs no specific training and very little investment. With just an inexpensive pair of binoculars and a book such as this, anyone from eight to eighty can qualify as an amateur astronomer. With absolutely no equations or complex technical jargon, this book takes you on a guided tour of the Solar System. Each of our planetary neighbours is visited, and the guide shows how fascinating data and stunning photographs from the Voyager missions of the 1980s have given us a new perspective on space, undreamed of a mere 10 years ago. Then the tours continue - across our own galaxy, the Milky Way, and beyond. Explicit, non-technical drawings, specially commissioned for this book, complement the text by helping us understand the basic laws of the universe, the life cycle of stars and awesome phenomena such as supernovae, quasars, pulsars and black holes. But this book is not just intended to explain the facts of the cosmos and our fancies about it. It is also a highly practical sky watcher's guide. The entire sky is divided into manageable segments and each segment has its own large starchart, with accompanying text and photographs. these, together with notes on equipment and technique, prepare the newcomer of any age for an enthralling journey of discovery and wonder.