Book of the Month May 2019

Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery 

by
Scott Kelly

 

From early 2015 to early 2016, astronaut Scott Kelly broke the record for the longest habitation in space, spending over a year on the International Space Station.  In Endurance Kelly gives a candid, riveting account of the everyday challenges astronauts and cosmonauts face while confined to a space station orbiting the Earth.  The reader learns about the rigorous routine that must be strictly followed, the quirks of personalities of fellow station dwellers, and the challenges of maintaining equipment.  One such complex machine, the Seedra, scrubs the space station air of carbon dioxide, which even in small concentrations has averse effects on astronauts’ physical state.  The reader feels Kelly’s sense of urgency while completing the painstaking maintenance procedures.

The things we take for granted while firmly planted on terra firma are missed dearly in Earth orbit.  Part of Kelly’s list: “I miss the sound of children playing, which always sounds the same no matter the language.  I miss the sound of people talking and laughing in another room.  I miss rooms.  I miss doors and door frames and the creak of wood floorboards when people walk around in old buildings”.

Interspersed throughout the book are accounts of his pre-astronaut life and personal struggles.  Kelly, who grew up in New Jersey with his twin brother Mark (who also became an astronaut), was an average student with no clear aims in life until he read Tom Wolfes’s The Right Stuff.  His life was forever changed.

Endurance will be available at the Lamplighter Library during the May RASC meeting.  Thanks to Robert Gariepy for suggesting the acquisition of this book! 

 

Mark Zalcik
Librarian

Book of the Month April 2019

An Astronomer’s Tale: A Bricklayer’s Guide to the Galaxy

by
Gary Fildes

Gary Fildes left school at sixteen, got a trade like most of his mates and was soon married with four kids. His life seemed set. But he had a secret. Something he only practised late at night with a few like-minded friends. Then one day, middle age approaching alarmingly, he acted on his lifelong passion. He finally came out. As an astronomer.

Today, Gary is the founder and lead astronomer of Kielder Observatory, one of the top ten stargazing sites in the world, which he also helped to build. Situated in the beautiful forests of Kielder, Northumberland, within Europe’s largest protected dark sky park, it offers some of the UK’s most spectacular views of stars, planets and galaxies.

An Astronomer’s Tale is Gary’s inspirational story: part memoir, part nature writing, part seasonal guide to the night sky. It is a book brimming with passion; and at a time when the world is captivated by space, it will leave you ready to get out there and explore the wonders of the skies for yourself.
 
An Astronomers Tale will be available at the Lamplighter Library at the conclusion of the RASC meeting.
 

Berta Beltran
Librarian

Book of the Month March 2019

Apollo’s Fire: A Day on Earth in Nature and Imagination

by
Michael Sims

Step outside during a typical 24-hour period on Earth and you experience so many aspects of the world above and around you.  Author Michael Sims reminds us that there is so much more to “an ordinary day”, and then goes ahead and points out a plethora of tidbits that grace our earthly packet of time.  Sims starts with the intricacies of morning twilight, and here and there muses on the role of the Sun that governs so much of the goings-on of the day.  The diversity of topics include:
  • why we actually start a new day in the middle of the night
  • a discussion of various animals that become active at twilight, notably bats and the Loch Ness monster
  • the detailed studies of Charles Darwin on how plants respond to the Sun
  • the role of the Moon in art and literature across many cultures
  • the enthusiasm of Galileo at the potential of the newly-invented telescope 
Needless to say, after reading this book you may never look upon an Earth day in nearly the same way!  Apollo’s Fire will be available at the Lamplighter Library at the conclusion of the RASC meeting.
 

Mark Zalcik
Librarian

Book of the Month February 2019

50 Things to See with a Telescope Kids
by
John A. Read

We at the Lamplighter Library have a number of introductory astronomy books for kids, and this one, published in 2017, is our newest one!  The book begins with an introductory section on telescopes, astronomy during the four seasons, and hints for observing.  Then Read introduces us to the 50 Things, one page per highlight.  There is a healthy mix of prominent constellations and deep sky objects, the constellation pages themselves broken down into deep sky objects lurking within.  Some lesser-known highlights are included, such as the Dragonfly Cluster and Kemble’s Cascade, discovered by Lucian Kemble after whom our library is named.  The planets, plus comets, round out the celestial treats.  50 Things to See has fun illustrations, including cute symbols for the seasons, and a helpful scale showing challenge of viewing.  The book will be available at the February RASC meeting!

While a member of the Mount Diablo Astronomical Society in California, John Read taught thousands of students how to use telescopes and explore the night sky. In 2016, John left corporate America, and is now a full time astrophysics student in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and an active member of the RASC.

The author himself makes a very nice introduction to the book in the following video:

Mark Zalcik
Librarian

December 2018

The Glass Universe
by
Dava Sobel

Early in the 20th century an ambitious project commenced at the Harvard College Observatory – the study of thousands of glass photographic plates containing telescopic image of the stars, each plate holding secrets just waiting to be discovered. An industrious group of individuals took up the challenge – and they were all women. Dava Sobel, author of Galileo’s Daughter, a book we also have at the Lamplighter Library, describes the valuable contributions to astronomy made by this tenacious team, during a time when women were not yet allowed to vote. There is a Canadian connection here: one of the biographies is of Helen Sawyer. In the 1920s, she became a renowned expert on globular star clusters. Later, she and her husband Frank Hogg moved to Canada to become two of this country’s foremost astronomers. The Glass Universe will be available at the RASC meeting this month!

Mark Zalcik
Librarian

November 2018

Binocular Highlights
by
Gary Seronik

A look through binoculars at the night sky can reveal so much more detail than looking with the naked eye, as Gary Seronik points out in his book Binocular Highlights, published by Sky Publishing. Seronik zeroes in on 99 objects, including galaxies, star clusters, and double and variable stars. Handy sky maps help the reader to locate the objects. And a darkened circle on each object map tells you what you will see with standard 10×50 binoculars. So pack your binnies in your travels and pick up this book at the Lamplighter Library!

Mark Zalcik
Librarian

September 2018

365 Starry Nights
by
Chet Raymo

At any particular time of the year there are particular constellations that are prominent in the night sky. For example, now in September, Cygnus the Swan sits high in the evening sky. 365 Starry Nights by Chet Raymo takes the reader on an introductory course on astronomy, one night at a time. Each night of the year is represented by an illustrated panel showing an aspect of one of the constellations of the season. The topic may be one of its interesting stars, a prominent deep sky object such as a star cluster, or ancient lore about the animal or person depicted by the constellation. Look for 365 Starry Nights in the collection of Lamplighter Library books set up at the library table prior to this month’s RASC meeting.
Mark Zalcik
Librarian

June 2018

Observing Noctilucent Clouds
by
Michael Gadsden and Pekka Parviainen

The June Book of the Month is Observing Noctilucent Clouds by Michael Gadsden and Pekka Parviainen.  The book was the featured book a year ago, but as it’s such a good introductory book on noctilucent clouds (NLC), and as it is available online, well, here it is again. You can find it at:

http://www.iaga-aiga.org/data/uploads/pdf/guides/onc.pdf

Observing Noctilucent Clouds contains a great set of photo showing the various structures of NLC and their corresponding notations. At the end of the book are instructions on how to calculate the angle of the Sun below the horizon, which determines how high NLC will be in your sky. Have look, and then stay up a bit late over the next couple of months – it’s NLC season now!

The Lamplighter Library will not be accessible during the renovation of our usual meeting venue, the star theatre, but in the meantime a selection of books will be available outside the IMAX theatre before and after each meeting!

Mark Zalcik
Librarian