comets, eclipses, meteor
Willowdale, Ontario, Canada e
Buffalo, New York, USA, Firefly, 1999
Format 25 x 29, 170 pages, 348 ill.
in colour, 10 tables, 35 $
The turn of the millennium is being heralded by
a blaze of glory in earthly skies. Following two decades of
disappointment, two Great Comets flashed through the northern
firmament in 1996 and 1997. Then, 1998 brought the most impressive
Leonid meteor shower of recent years, and 1999 again offers the
possibility of a spectacular Leonid meteor storm. Finally, a total
eclipse of the Sun in 1999 will be visible to millions of people as
it slices across Europe and India from northwest to southeast—the
first total solar eclipse to occur over these regions in 40 years.
Naked-eye astronomy offers many intensely interesting and wondrous
celestial objects to our view. Consider the many fascinating faces
of the Moon—from a thin, delicate crescent to the fat, full disk
that sets the night aglow like a fairy tale; or the blazing light of
splendid Venus that can even cast shadows on a dark night; or the
multicolored glitter of Sirius, its light dispersed by passing
through the layers of the Earth's atmosphere; or the intriguing and
seductive configurations of constellations like Orion or star
clusters like the Pleiades.
Three distinct categories of phenomena, however, surpass anything
else in the sky for their majesty, sense of mystery and awesomeness.
All these phenomena are easily visible to the naked eye. They can
appear in more common forms—from the sudden flash of meteors on a
tranquil night to a partial eclipse of the Sun or a total eclipse of
the Moon. Or they can offer us the greatest spectacles of all, the
grand cosmic phenomena with which this book is principally concerned—the
appearance of a Great Comet, the fireworks of a spectacular meteor
shower or the unsurpassed vision of a total eclipse of the Sun.
Yet many people may never witness even one of these spectacles in
their entire lives—unless someone explains how to do it and why. And
that is the scope of this book. It is written by one who has been
lucky enough to witness wonders whose observation requires no
optical instrument other than that precious one furnished by nature:
the human eye.
Book not for sale