Astronomers’ Stars

Patrick Moore is a very enthusiastic amateur astronomer who is well known in his native Great Britain as the presenter of a television program on astronomy called “The Sky at Night.” In ASTRONOMERS’ STARS, Moore takes individual star case histories and discourses upon their location, appearance, discovery and discoverer(s), and physical properties. He also includes a comprehensive index of all the topics he covers and a short list of further reading.

Moore starts with an explanation of the system used to name the stars and that system’s origin. He explains why stars may appear red, blue, or white, or twinkling, and so on, and what these factors indicate about the age and origin of certain stars. He also gives detailed instructions for finding particular stars in the sky.

When Moore goes into further detail on astronomical concepts such as parallax, however, he loses the reader--and that is where the main problem of the book lies. ASTRONOMERS’ STARS is billed by its publisher as a “beautifully clear introduction to astronomy,” but, unfortunately, it is not quite introductory enough. For a reader who is already acquainted with the more technical aspects of astronomy, ASTRONOMERS’ STARS will be a very useful handbook to the sky. For the truly beginning astronomer, however, a look elsewhere at the fundamentals may be necessary.