National Geographic’s ‘Stargazer’s Atlas’ Encourages Us to Look Up and Learn [REVIEW]

Imagine what you can discover when you take the time to look up! (Photo by Yuting Gao on

When I was a boy, my grandfather gave me my very first book about constellations. Ever since, I have been fascinated by the heavens and love nights when the sky is black as pitch and the stars look close enough to touch. It’s such a marvel to me to think that we are looking up at things so far away, no man has ever been there. At least not yet. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t get familiar with them. To do that, you simply have to open National Geographic’s dazzling new volume, the Stargazer’s Atlas. Even if you haven’t spent your nights looking up in the past, you will after you read this beautiful guide to the night sky.

National Geographic's STARGAZER'S ATLAS
National Geographic

The book is divided into seven chapters: Stars; Sun, Moon, Earth; The Solar System; The Night Sky; More Celestial Sights; Let’s Go Gazing; and Seeing Farther. It’s also filled with “maps and charts, graphics, photographs, and ample information to guide you to a new level of knowledge and wonder about our universe.”

Perusing this volume, I learned so much about what stars actually are, how they’re born and grow, and ultimately die. The stars are then classified into main groups and arranged by luminosity and temperature. There’s even a picture of the Tarantula Nebula, a stellar breeding ground, which is located some 170,000 light-years away!

Of course, the sun is our closest star, and because of its proximity to us on Earth, it allows us to study stars as a whole. While we can’t stare at it ourselves for fear of scorching our eyeballs, scientists use special equipment like the Inouye Solar Telescope to study its layers, core temperature, flares, sunspots, and rotation. It can also peer closely enough to gaze at its cells of superheated gas that cover its surface, each about the size of Texas. (Is that why it gets so hot here?)

I was also fascinated to learn how the solar system grew. For example, long ago, in the early system, a nebula actually surrounded the sun. Then gas and dust condensed into a disk that eventually formed planetesimals. And about 4 billion years ago, during the Late Heavy Bombardment, there was a destructive shower of space rocks that pummeled the Earth. The evidence of these events exists in asteroids and a slew of other tiny worlds that orbit through space. Of course, our own solar system is comprised of more planets than just our own, and this book takes us on a breathtaking tour of each of them.

One of the cool things about stargazing is that the heavens are always changing, or at least our vantage point is anyway. The constellations we see in summer are not the same ones we see in winter, for example. But this book teaches us how to find the ones we are looking for by “star-hopping,” which is the technique of looking at the brightest object in the sky and then moving to the fainter ones. There are sky maps included for each season, which will help you get pretty proficient at finding everything from Pisces to Aquila and the Big Dipper.

Sometimes, however, it may seem like Chicken Little had it right when he said the sky was falling. He may very well have been referring to relics of iron, stone, and ice which represent the birth and death of worlds throughout our solar system and make their way to Earth in the form of meteorites. So, it isn’t unheard of that people have found fragments of these items on the ground. Even if the rock itself isn’t found, it can leave behind evidence, like the 50,000-year-old Meteor Crater in Arizona which scientists only discovered in 1891.

If you get really immersed in stargazing, you may wonder where you should go to get the best glimpses of the night sky. This book offers plenty of tips in this regard, whether you want to stay closer to home and visit Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho or some of America’s other national parks or travel a bit farther, such as to Australia’s Warrumbungle National Park or South Korea’s Yeongyang Firefly Eco Park. There are plenty of places to enjoy little pieces of heaven.

One of the things I love most about this book is that it encourages all of us to soak up the wonder of the night sky, and we don’t even need any special equipment to do it. All we have to do is lay back in a dark place that is unobscured by artificial lighting, give our eyes 20 to 30 minutes to adjust to the dark, and look up.

This coffee-table-sized book makes a great addition to your family’s personal library. Stargazer’s Atlas will educate and inspire you to slow down, study, and enjoy the ancient miracles we tend to overlook even though they are always out there, patiently waiting to act as our teachers if we’d only make the time to watch and learn.

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About the author

One of the world’s leading nonfiction publishers, National Geographic has published more than 1,700 titles, featuring such categories as history, travel, nature, photography, space, science, health, biography, and memoir.

A portion of its proceeds is used to fund exploration, conservation, and education through ongoing contributions to the work of the National Geographic Society.

To find out more about Nat Geo, visit, like them on Facebook, or follow them on TwitterInstagram, and Snapchat.

By National Geographic
432 pp. National Geographic Society. $65.

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TLC Book Tours Tour Host

Purchase Stargazer’s Atlas direct from Jathan & Heather Books or from one of these other fine online retailers: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Half Price Books | Hudson Booksellers | IndieBound | Powell’s | Target | Walmart.

Stargazer’s Atlas is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

One Response to National Geographic’s ‘Stargazer’s Atlas’ Encourages Us to Look Up and Learn [REVIEW]

  1. trish says:

    I find this so fascinating! I love looking at the stars and have my favorites that I look for all the time.

    Thanks for being on this tour!

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