This month, Cambridge University Press published Astronomy columnist Stephen James O’Meara’s latest book for stargazers, Observing the Night Sky with Binoculars. The book — billed as “a simple guide to the heavens” — is for beginners. This is a new direction for Steve, who has published several guides to observing deep-sky objects with telescopes. I asked him why he wrote the book and how readers could benefit from it.
Pendick: How did this book come about? When and how did you get the idea?
O’Meara: It happened after I completed my research-intensive Deep-Sky Companion trilogy (The Messier Objects, Caldwell Objects, and Hidden Treasures), followed by the extensive Herschel 400 Observing Guide. These are all deep-sky works largely to challenge telescope users.
I became aware of the need for a simple book to help pure novices get into our hobby. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but I didn’t get fired up to write the book until I learned that a friend of mine in Boston had bought a pair of binoculars and was trying to learn the night sky.
He was struggling with some basic concepts, and he would call and e-mail me with questions. I was enjoying helping him so much, that I thought I’d take what I was teaching him and share the knowledge.