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SMITHSONIAN JOURNEYS

Elegant Universe

READING AND TRAVEL GUIDE

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Enrich your travels with reading! Here's a hand-picked list prepared for your journey in conjunction with the book experts at Longitude.

Essential Reading

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Night Sky Star Wheel

Night Sky Star Wheel

by Sky Publishing

  • SCIENCE
  • 2007
  • PLASTIC CARD

Perfect for beginning stargazers, this handy planisphere shows the location of the brightest objects in the night sky. (SCI253, $12.95)

The Universe

The Universe

by Leo Marriott

  • SCIENCE
  • 2007
  • HARD COVER
  • 255 PAGES

This visual, informative introduction includes dramatic photos organized into four sections: The Solar System, Galaxies, Nebulas and Stars and Black Holes. (SCI276, $12.99)

Origins, Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution

Origins, Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution

by Neil deGrasse Tyson | Donald Goldsmith

  • SCIENCE
  • 2005
  • PAPER
  • 336 PAGES

A lively, illustrated primer on astrophysics and cosmology, published in conjunction with the NOVA series of the same name. (SCI94, $22.95)

 
Eclipse! The What, Where, When, Why, and How Guide to Watching Solar and Lunar Eclipses

Eclipse! The What, Where, When, Why, and How Guide to Watching Solar and Lunar Eclipses


by Philip Harington

  • REFERENCE
  • 1997
  • PAPER
  • 280 PAGES

A guide to eclipse phenomena and general celestial mechanics, including how to best photograph and appreciate lunar and solar eclipses. With tables summarizing where lunar and solar eclipses will be visible from 1998-2017. (GEN30, $19.95)

National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Night Sky

National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Night Sky


by National Geographic Society

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2009
  • PAPER
  • 288 PAGES

Filled with practical, hands-on advice and tips for enjoying and understanding the night sky, this guide presents the science and facts of astronomy in an easy-to-understand, engaging format. (SCI259, $21.95)

Total Solar Eclipse 2012 & 2013

Total Solar Eclipse 2012 & 2013


by Sheridan Williams

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2012
  • PAPER
  • 48 PAGES

Written by a council member of the British Astronomical Association, this compact guidebook in the Bradt series includes everything you need to chase eclipses in 2012 and 2013. Photography tips, maps, travel notes, scientific explanations -- it's all here! (SCI302, $8.99)

Skywatchers

Skywatchers


by Anthony Aveni

  • HISTORY
  • 2001
  • PAPER
  • 423 PAGES

A revised edition of the book that established the field of archaeoastronomy. Aveni pays particular attention to calendars, religion and science in Aztec and Maya cultures. (MEX136, $34.95)

A Walk Through the Heavens, A Guide to Stars and Constellations and Their Legends

A Walk Through the Heavens, A Guide to Stars and Constellations and Their Legends


by Wil Tirion | Milton D. Heifetz

  • SCIENCE
  • 2004
  • PAPER
  • 96 PAGES

The amiable authors of this step-by step guide advise "relax and enjoy yourself as you travel across the sky." Geared for beginners, it includes an overview of stars in the northern hemisphere by season, a constellation-by-constellation finding guide and brief accounts of the legends of the heavens. (SCI241, $19.99)

Astronomy for Dummies

Astronomy for Dummies


by Stephen P. Maran

  • SCIENCE
  • 2012
  • PAPER
  • 384 PAGES

Maran (30 years of experience with NASA) outlines the basic in this excellent volume in the Dummies series. The witty style keeps the subject fun and interesting -- and the information is terrific! (SCI309, $22.99)

Astronomy Methods, A Physical Approach to Astronomical Observations

Astronomy Methods, A Physical Approach to Astronomical Observations


by Hale Bradt

  • SCIENCE
  • 2003
  • PAPER
  • 458 PAGES

An introductory university text on quantitative astronomy, with 58 line diagrams 50 black-and-white photographs, 16 tables, and 89 problem sets. Hale Bradt is a Professor at MIT. (SCI156, $89.00)

Auroras, Fire in the Sky

Auroras, Fire in the Sky


by Dan Bortolotti

  • SCIENCE
  • 2011
  • PAPER
  • 144 PAGES

These 80 color photos by Yuichi Takasaka celebrate the beauty, history, folklore and science of the Northern Lights. (ARC304, $29.95)

Bad Astronomy, Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing Hoax

Bad Astronomy, Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing Hoax


by Philip C. Plait

  • SCIENCE
  • 2002
  • PAPER
  • 277 PAGES

Plait (badastronomy.com) is wonderfully witty and educational as he debunks the myths, legends, and conspiracies that abound in our society. (SCI311, $15.95)

David Levy's Guide to Observing Meteor Showers


by David H. Levy

  • SCIENCE
  • 2007
  • PAPER
  • 128 PAGES

A clear and enthusiastic guide to meteors and meteor showers -- what they are, how to watch them and what they mean. Now of the Jarnac Observatory in Arizona, Levy was formerly the science editor at Parade Magazine and he has a wonderful way of blending personal anecdote with the science of astronomy. (SCI300, $32.99)

Death from the Skies!, These Are the Ways the World Will End

Death from the Skies!, These Are the Ways the World Will End


by Philip C. Plait

  • SCIENCE
  • 2009
  • PAPER
  • 326 PAGES

With wit, humor, and an infectious love of astronomy that could win over even the science-phobic, this fun and fascinating book presents some of the most fearsome end-of-the-world calamities, and gives the odds on whether any of them will actually occur. (SCI310, $17.00)

Find the Constellations

Find the Constellations


by Hans Augusto Rey

  • SCIENCE
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 72 PAGES

A delightfully illustrated guide to the constellations by H. A. Rey, creator of Curious George, thoroughly updated for this new edition. The book retains all of its original charm. (SCI84, $9.99)

Nightwatch, A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe : Revised and Updated

Nightwatch, A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe : Revised and Updated


by Terence Dickinson

  • SCIENCE
  • 2006
  • HARD COVER
  • 192 PAGES

NightWatch has become a standard reference guide for stargazers throughout North America. The new Third Edition expands on that success with a completely revised and updated text, more than 100 new color photos and diagrams and 16 additional pages that cover such new astronomical pursuits as computerized telescopes, reviews of new telescope designs and accessories, and astronomy on the Internet. (SCI313, $35.00)

Rare Earth, Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe

Rare Earth, Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe


by Donald Brownlee | Peter Ward

  • SCIENCE
  • 2003
  • PAPER
  • 268 PAGES

In this revised and updated edition of their groundbreaking book, Ward and Brownlee make a strong case that multi-cellular life may be unique to Planet Earth. (SCI97, $33.90)

Star Maps for Beginners

Star Maps for Beginners


by I.M. Levitt | Roy K. Marshall

  • SCIENCE
  • 1992
  • PAPER
  • 64 PAGES

A brief guide to viewing and understanding the heavens, originally published in 1942 and a perennial favorite among budding astronomers. (SCI02, $14.00)

Stargazing Basics, Getting Started in Recreational Astronomy

Stargazing Basics, Getting Started in Recreational Astronomy


by Paul E. Kinzer

  • SCIENCE
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 200 PAGES

This informal guide has all the answers for an absolute novice, from what to look for in the sky to which telescope to buy. (SCI242, $21.99)

The Backyard Astronomer's Guide


by Terence Dickinson

  • SCIENCE
  • 2008
  • HARD COVER
  • 368 PAGES

With over 500 color photographs and illustrations, The Backyard Astronomer's Guide is a terrific introduction. (SCI312, $49.95)

The Sky Observer's Guide

The Sky Observer's Guide


by R. Newton Mayall

  • NATURAL HISTORY
  • 2001
  • PAPER

Concise, engaging, geared for children without being simplistic, these are the classic Golden Guides from your childhood, brought up to date for the 21st century and, thankfully, featuring the original color illustrations. (NAT213, $6.95)

A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets, revised 4th ed.

A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets, revised 4th ed.


by Jay M. Pasachoff

  • FIELD GUIDE
  • 1999
  • PAPER
  • 578 PAGES

The fourth edition of this best-selling field guide is now updated and revised, with new and valid information through 2017. A guided tour of the heavens in the Peterson series equally useful in Des Moines or Montevideo. With an atlas of the sky, detailed moon maps and an overview of the science of astronomy. (SCI01, $19.00)

National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Night Sky

National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Night Sky


by Mark R. Chartrand

  • FIELD GUIDE
  • 1991
  • PAPER
  • 714 PAGES

This concise guide to the cosmos includes essays on celestial phenomena, monthly sky charts and constellation charts for both the Northern and Southern skies. (SCI48, $21.95)

Southern Night Sky

Southern Night Sky


by Pocket Naturalist

  • FIELD GUIDE
  • 2001
  • PLASTIC CARD

A glow in the dark laminated card showing the most conspicuous stars, constellations and celestial objects of the Southern Hemisphere. (SCI30, $6.95)

The Night Sky

The Night Sky


by Raymond Leung | James Kavanagh

  • FIELD GUIDE
  • 2001
  • PLASTIC CARD

A guide to the major constellations in the Northern Hemisphere featuring color photographs and glow-in-the-dark star charts. (SCI49, $6.95)

More Recommendations

Here are some other groups of books that might be of interest

Longitude provides recommended reading for travelers in partnership with the leading tour operators and travel programs for hundreds of destinations worldwide. We've got the classic, new and hard-to-find books and maps to help you get the most out of your adventures.