Those looking for an ideal gift for the astronomy the lover in your life need look no further than the sheer weight and celestial imagery of “Stargazer Atlas: The Ultimate Guide to the Night Sky.” (opens in a new tab)
Created by a team of National Geographic experts alongside the orchestrating efforts of Andrew Fazekas, aka The Night Sky Guy, the beautiful new coffee table book is not only a utilitarian guide to the heavens, but also a treasure trove of 170 detailed maps, historic photos, images from space missions and stunning maps of the planets and moons of our solar system.
This oversized 432-page hardcover tips the scales at 6 pounds (2.7 kilograms) and is packed with glossy photographs and informative explanations that draw you into the cold night air to gaze at the cosmos in awe.
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Nat Geo’s handsome volume won’t gather dust on a shelf; it will become a valuable reference tool for navigating the night sky and meeting all the inhabitants of our vast galactic home.
Fazekas has been writing stargazing articles for National Geographic for 13 years. Here he has fused a prestigious constellation guide for the average layman with the depth that hardcore stargazers and space enthusiasts of all ages can also appreciate.
“It’s an atlas at heart, and National Geographic came to me to help me imagine what this book should include,” Fazekas told Space.com in an interview. “Early on, we realized that this was essentially a comprehensive, A-Z examination of humanity’s connection to the night sky, past, present, and future, and the complexity of that connection. It goes way beyond what a traditional atlas would be. The science goes into archaeoastronomy, astrotourism, space missions and that sort of thing. I thought we should delve into the expertise of Nat Geo and we tapped into those writers who could really dig into other related topics.
Fazekas’ specialty is to observe the limitless beauty of the skies. The book therefore aims to encourage people to get excited about being under the stars.
“Any time you deal with space, science, the universe or exploration topics today, it can quickly become very overwhelming,” Fazekas said. “Online we are inundated with astronomical news like never before. It’s everywhere and it’s thanks to the digital age we live in. And it’s kind of ironic because most humans live in cosmopolitan areas and are more disconnected from nature than ever. There’s a wealth of information out there, so it can be daunting.”
Fazekas has been a practicing amateur astronomer since childhood, learning from his mentors in the local astronomy club. Now he watches in real time as astronomy missions send home data like the stunning first images from the James Webb Space Telescope.
“It’s amazing what the average Earthling can access, so when we created this book we wanted to make it digestible in chunks,” he said. “We wanted the maps to be relatable. They’re destinations. I think we’re in transition as a society where people are going to need to know space and astronomical lingo and lingo. It’s now part of our lives.”
He sees the opportunities as endless.
“Humans are going to live and work in space and we are seeing the beginnings of space tourism,” he said. “We’re talking about going to the south pole of the moon and settling there before moving on to Mars. We’re looking at the satellites of Jupiter and Saturn as possible destinations where there could be life. That’s where our future is This book is a guide to making sure people explore these worlds and don’t just see them as dots in the sky It was the inspiration for the maps and the little tidbits and factoids to take in.
The night sky is Fazekas’ passion and he enjoys sharing this wonder with people to allow them to appreciate what is out there and this new atlas does that job.
“We are so much more than this spaceship we call Earth floating in the Milky Way,” he said. “When I was younger hunting, fishing and camping with my dad, we spent a lot of time in faraway places with no light pollution. One of the things he taught me is that the sky Nocturnal is part of nature. The stars up there, that cluster of the Milky Way and the universe beyond are also part of the natural world. There’s a disconnect that most people don’t really consider.
National Geographic “Stargazer Atlas: The Ultimate Guide to the Night Sky” (opens in a new tab) is out now. Personalized and autographed copies are available from The Night Sky Guy website (opens in a new tab).
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