Roy A(rthur) Gallant Bancroft W. Sitterly - Essay

Bancroft W. Sitterly

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Roy A. Gallant is] a professional interpreter of science to nonscientists, a "science writer," and a good one…. [The ABC's of Astronomy] is for would-be amateur astronomers, and it combines a dictionary of the astronomical language and a handbook for those who desire firsthand acquaintance, by naked-eye observation or the use of a small telescope, with the heavens always spread out above us….

I find [this book] a bit disappointing. The writing is direct, simple, and clear…. As dictionary definitions go, these are pretty good, with a few exceptions ("centrifugal force" is one); the art of definition is a very difficult one, and it is much easier to find fault than to contrive a better definition in as few words. Some of the diagrams and charts are very good. But to the amateur learning how (and how not) to get the most out of a small telescope, this book tells little of value, nor does it provide enough sky lore to make naked-eye star study very inviting. Perhaps, as a professional teacher, I have some bias against the scrappy assembly of unsystematized facts presented in a dictionary. But I have seen many such books that were not as good as this one.

Bancroft W. Sitterly, "Astronomy for Laymen," in Science (copyright © 1963 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science), Vol. 139, No. 3549, January 4, 1963, p. 31.