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for astronomy with the unaided-eye

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Introductory overviews

Quick and concise:

  • "Early Stargazers," chapter 1 of Hugh Thurston, Early Astronomy (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1994), pp. 1-44.
    • Location: History of Science Collections (QB16.T48, non-circulating).
    • Concise introduction to constellations; the motions of the stars, Sun, Moon and planets; eclipses; calendars; and the basic observing instruments used before the telescope.
  • "Astronomy with the Naked Eye," chapter 3 of Anthony F. Aveni, Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1980), pp. 48-132.
    • Locations: Bizzell Library, F1219.3 .A85 A9 (circulating), and in History of Science Collections (noncirculating).
    • Covers much the same ground as the previous source. This chapter is widely regarded as a classic short introduction to astronomy with the unaided eye.
  • Introductory pages of this Basic Celestial Phenomena website.

Kinder and friendlier, with a little more detail:

  • Chet Raymo, 365 Starry Nights (Fireside, 1990).
    • Location: On order in the History of Science Collections.
    • No one makes it easier to feel at home beneath the night sky than Chet Raymo. This easy to read book presents star charts and a 15-minute tour of the night sky for each night of the year. Interweaves astronomical information with literature, mythology and history. Highly recommended. Our family knows this book by heart, having read it through several years in a row.
  • Norman Davidson, Sky Phenomena: A Guide to Naked-Eye Observation of the Stars (Lindisfarne Books, 1993).
    • Location: On order in the History of Science Collections.
    • Chapters devoted to various celestial phenomena, including the motions of the stars and planets, comets, seasons and the calendar. Davidson integrates historical background, poetry and literature with clear, accessible explanations of the appearances of the night sky. Mathematical concepts are gently introduced; exercises are confined to optional problems at the end of each chapter.

The Sky Tonight:

You don't need a telescope to enjoy the night sky! Plan a skywatch with these helpful sources:

  • Popular magazines
    • StarDate. Ideal for beginners. Sponsored by the University of Texas; companion website to the radio broadcast carried on many public radio stations. Not in the OU library.
    • Astronomy. A good, intermediate-level popular magazine. Not in the OU library.
    • Mercury. Published by The Astronomical Society of the Pacific, one of the leading providers of resources for astronomy education. Highly recommended. Full text (1990-present) is available electronically from Academic Search Elite (on the OU libraries catalog record, click the Full text link).
    • Sky and Telescope. The leading journal for serious amateurs. Available at OU in Bizzell Library and in the Physics library, QB 1 .S536; past issues also available in microfilm (serial 830) and microfiche (serial 222).
  • Internet sources
    • The Skywatcher's Diary. Printable monthly star chart and calendar (pdf). Super easy to use! Sponsored by the Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University.
    • Space.com. Skywatch information.
    • The Cosmic Mirror. Current astronomy news by Daniel Fische.
  • Instruments (planisphere, star clock, telescope, etc.)

Undiscovered friends will show you the universe:


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Kerry Magruder

Created 16 July 2003; revised 21 July 2003