Whitney's Star Finder
by Charles A. Whitney


Book Review by Joe Orman

[Originally published in the newsletter of the East Valley Astronomy Club, May 2000]

Almost anyone who looks up at the night sky can name one or two of the stars they see. But I recently decided to familiarize myself with all of the most conspicuous stars in the sky, and which constellation they are found in. As the title suggests, Whitney's Star Finder is good for doing just that. The book's appendix includes a table of the 30 brightest stars, and these stars are labeled on the Star Finder (actually a simplified planisphere) included with the book. But the book is deceptively titled, because it is also a general beginner's guide to understanding and observing many aspects of the night sky.

There are many general guides available on the market, but beginners may find this one less intimidating than most, since it is very concise and written in plain conversational English. More-experienced observers may also want to check it out -- it never hurts to review the basics, and you may pick up a few new pointers. Of course you may also take exception to some statements, such as "Pluto requires at least a twenty-four-inch telescope and special star charts" (actually Pluto can be viewed with an 8-inch if care is taken). Another drawback to this book is that it's out of date -- the tables of eclipses and other sky events only go through 1995. But Whitney's Star Finder is still recommended as an introduction to the sky for beginners, or a way for more-experienced amateurs to "brush up" on the basics ... it helped me to learn a few more bright stars!

Revised: June 6, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Joe Orman
Joe Orman's Home Page