Night Sky: Stargazing with the Naked Eye – by Robert Harvey (Review)

Science, Astronomy

Amber Books; November 14, 2019 (original hardcover)
Amber Books; November 3, 2020 (flexibound)

224 pages (Hardcover)

Goodreads

5 / 5 ✪

I was kindly provided an advance-copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Amber Books and NetGalley for the ARC! All opinions are my own.

Imagine a night sky. It could be from your front porch, from a lonely mountain, from a high-powered telescope. There could be an aurora in the sky, a meteor shower, a clear view of the Milky Way. Or it could be cloudy—if so, imagine better.

The Night Sky aims to present you with everything your imagination could be taking advantage of; in this case very real examples of the majesty of the heavens from all around the world. While there is some text to read, some notes and descriptions to take note of—this was all about the photos for me. They are stunning, and completely blew me away.

While it initially sounds more like a guide from the title, I’d say Night Sky is rather more aimed to inspire and impress. If it gets you out exploring the stars on your own—great! If not—that’s fine too. It’s more a representation of everything the night sky has to offer to the common observer. There are notes on night sky photography, light pollution, stargazing, and more in the beginning and back appendices. The heart of it focuses on the photos themselves; taken from each inhabited continent, each one a stunning image in a book filled with them.

I was presented with the ebook version first, of which I didn’t have the best opinion. First off, I couldn’t put it on my kindle. Not that the photos would’ve been nearly as impressive there for me, but it was frustrating all the same. On my phone, the photos were quite stunning, but wee tiny things. I could enlarge sections of them, but never see the photos themselves full-size. That and the text was next to impossible to read this way, as I’d’ve had to enlarge it quite a bit, only to scroll along word by word, line by line to read through it.

So I did what any reasonable person would.

I went out and bought the print book.

I was not disappointed.

Note: After I finished this review, I attempted to locate the ebook version anywhere online and could not. So… my problems with it are moot, I guess. Seems it was just a pdf of the review copy, or something? Not sure. Anyway…

Retailing at around $25, this was a splurge for me. Beyond that, even. I don’t even like throwing down that kind of money for a book I know I’m going to read and enjoy multiple times over. At first it was enough to make me waffle and ultimately regret my decision—but then I received the book itself.

First thing, the pages are thick and glossy, perfect for printing high definition photos on. They’ll also resist tearing, which is nice. The descriptions are easier to read in this version, but they’re really only fun facts and notes about the accompanying pictures. The photos themselves steal the show.

This is a perfect centerpiece (if you’re into that), or something to leave out on your coffee table for perusal or idle guests (again, if you have either of those things). For someone like me, I found that I most often looked at it during the day, then it inspired me to go out and look at the stars come night. While I’m fortunate to live in an area with generally low light pollution, I do know that not everyone is as lucky. And for them, this book might in some ways assuage this.

While I realize this isn’t science fiction, it does provide the near limitless potential for the imagination. Maybe you’ll look at these photos and get the inspiration to finally write that novel. Or finish it. Or maybe you’ll go outside and stare up into the heavens instead. Or maybe it’ll simply make your dreams vast, open, and full of infinite beauty.

8 thoughts on “Night Sky: Stargazing with the Naked Eye – by Robert Harvey (Review)

  1. Love your review, Will! I must say I’m partial to astronomy albums of all kinds, and I love looking at them and bei, so it is an easy sell, but I also live how pictures of stars could wake a port within you 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ola! Sorry it took so long to respond to this! I’m curious how different the night sky must seem to you now versus when you lived in Poland. I’ve never even been to the southern hemisphere, but I imagine it must be an odd change.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s so weird! But there are still some constellations that I recognize from Poland, like Orion and Sirius for example. We also observed Musk’s train of satellites one night, that’s an interesting sight!

        Like

  2. Fantastic review and this looks like an absolutely beautiful book. I love the inspirational aspects you mention, both for trying to view things yourself but also the vicarious aspect if your area suffers from major light pollution. Maybe these images would help folks imagine some of the scenes and settings in the science fiction books we love to read. And I completely agree, these sorts of books are so much better in print.

    Liked by 1 person

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