This version of The Night Sky is suitable for the southern half of the United States and Southern Europe. Other versions are available for other latitude zones. The Night Sky is a rotating star finder (planisphere) that allows the user to recognize the constellations for any time of night, any day of the year. The sky appears to rotate (due to the rotation and orbital motion of the earth), so to be successful recognizing the constellations a beginner needs to know which stars are above the horizon at any time.
Most planispheres attempt to represent the whole dome of the sky on one flat map, creating severe distortion near the outer edges of the map (the southern part of the sky). The Night Sky was specially designed to overcome this problem: two maps divide the sky into north-facing and south-facing views which are shown on the front and back sides of the chart. When you turn around, simply turn the chart over. This design feature eliminates over 90% of the distortion found in one-sided planispheres.
Other features of The Night Sky were designed with observers in mind:
--Dark stars on a white background make the map easier to read at night with a dim (or preferably red filtered) flashlight. (Under red light the dark blue of the chart becomes a velvety black.)
--The maps are computer-plotted for accuracy and show stars down to a consistent 5th magnitude brightness cut-off. What you see on the chart is what is really there.
--The constellation figures emphasize simple patterns connecting the brightest stars, making the constellations easy to recognize and remember.
--A few of the best objects (such as star clusters, galaxies, and nebulae) visible in binoculars and small telescopes are included.
--The Night Sky comes in a protective vinyl pouch and the chart has plastic outer surfaces for dew resistance.
About the Author: David Chandler has taught astronomy, physics, and mathematics at the high school and college levels since the early 1970's and is an active amateur astronomer. He has built telescopes ranging from 6 inches to 25 inches diameter and has helped found the Pomona Valley Amateur Astronomers and the Tule River Amateur Astronomers.
He has a BS in Physics from Harvey Mudd College, an MA in Education from Claremont Graduate School, and an MS in Mathematics from California Polytechnic University. Besides teaching he writes astronomy software, does custom star mapping and consulting for science toy companies, and has published a number of charts and books designed to help beginners become successful in observational astronomy.