Posted on Friday, November 08, 2013
By Kadri

Treasures of the Southern Sky by Robert Gendler, Lars Lindberg Christensen and David Malin

Rating: 9/10

As winter gets closer in the northern hemisphere one might start thinking about traveling somewhere warm, possibly somewhere where you can also see the southern hemisphere sky.

As the larger part of humankind lives in the northern hemisphere and hence can see only a small part of the southern sky (if at all), then it might seem mysterious with it's different constellations and the Magellanic clouds.

"Treasures of the Southern Sky" lets on get acquainted not just with the most impressive deep sky objects on could see there, but also with the history of observing the night sky in the southern hemisphere. Although such names as Edmond Halley (of the comet fame) and John Herschel (the son of William Herschel, the discoverer of Uranus) might be familiar to many, few know that they did a lot of observations of the southern sky as well.

For example Halley (1656 - 1742) was the first astronomer to do systematic observations of the southern stars, as he wanted to make a catalog to match that of John Flamsteed's (the first Astronomer Royal) of the northern skies. Halley went to the island of St. Helena that is 16 degrees south of the equator in the South Atlantic and stayed there for 18 months for his observations.
(St. Helena island is more famous for having hosted Napoleon Bonaparte who was exiled there in the beginning of 19th century)

And later on John Herschel did observations in Cape Town in South Africa and wanted to finish his father's work and have a comprehensive sky atlas.

But one can read more about other astronomers who have spent time observing the stars in the southern hemisphere in the book.

The main part of the book is composed of photographs of some of the most amazing objects that can be seen there, mostly star clusters, galaxies, planetary and other nebulae. And in addition to the photo there's also a short overview of what is on the picture, how old are the stars there, how far away they are and when was the object first observed.

So even if it seems like a lot of hassle to actually travel to the southern hemisphere to see the astronomical objects yourself, then this book is an excellent way to have the southern sky brought home to you.

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