Thursday, February 9, 2012

Review: Celestial Almanack

There is something fascinating about a starry night sky.  Even more than watching waves roll on an endless horizon at the beach (something I love to do), the vastness of the universe emphasizes the infinite Creator, the awesomeness of God.

But I confess – the only thing I can locate with reasonable certainty, other than the moon, is the Big Dipper.  So I was excited to receive a download of February’s Celestial Almanack from Fourth Day Press for my own sake and being able to pass along my discoveries to Miss Esmé – who not only is well versed in explaining the Orion Nebula, but is far better at handling the telescope than I.
The Celestial Almanack is your illustrated guide to learning the night sky, from Fourth Day Press.  Check out the FREE PREVIEW!
February, 2012: this month, learn about:
* The Sun is moving higher in the noon sky, and rises and sets farther to the north, and how this relates to the days growing longer;
* The constellation Orion dominates the evening skies.  Find Orion and his neighboring constellations, and how Orion can be used as a starting point for finding 35 constellations!
* Wow!  Jupiter and Venus are drawing closer this month, approaching a spectacular conjunction in March!  What an amazing sight!
* Mars and Saturn are visible earlier in the night, and are well placed before midnight;
* Discover these planets and also many bright stars on the evenings when they line up with the Moon;
* And much more!  Check out the FREE PREVIEW and tell all your friends!
* * * * *
Learn the visual astronomy of the early American almanacks, from the Puritan colonists to the Founding Fathers.  Learn the constellations, follow the phases of the Moon, discover the visible planets, and learn the signs of the passing seasons.  Find out how these signs relate to the calendar and traditional celestial navigation.  Use the Celestial Almanack as a monthly illustrated ezine companion guide for the Signs & Seasons curriculum, a traditional hard copy publication from Fourth Day Press.
Recommended Age:  Can be adapted for elementary through high school 
Price:  $3.00 for a pdf download
For More Info/To Purchase: CurrClick
For More Reviews: TOS Crew

What Mom Liked:
  • Everything. Not quite sure where to start!  The look and feel of the download is just classic, with old English terminology that enhances the topic.
  • Biblical references.  Seeing as God is who I see when I look at the sky, these are very appropriate!  The references to the Jewish year – very much based on the skies - are fascinating as well
  • Illustrations.  The illustrations are easy to understand, and there are plenty of them, making it easy to match your night sky to the text descriptions.  I like how the author relates the constellations to each other to make them easier to locate; e.g. start by learning Orion, and then the constellations that border him, and so on.  There is even an Orion challenge to learn 35 constellations in a year!
  • Planets.  This isn't just about stars - the author explains how the planets move in relation to each other (the "dance of the planets).  We've got our eyes on Jupiter and Venus this month...
  • Star ratings.  You know exactly how easy or hard it’ll be to locate something based on its star rating. 
  • Lots of detail.  This guide is packed with explanations and tidbits of information, such as info on the analemma, or the figure-8 shape the sun traces in the sky over the span of a year.
  • Price. A great way to leap into astronomy with minimal expense.
  • Leap Year explanation.  Very nice, easy-to-understand explanation and history of leap year.  
  • Calendar.  The guide includes a calendar with moon phases, conjunctions, aspects, etc.  An easy way to keep track of what to expect on your sky-gazing expeditions.
This is a terrific year to check out the Celestial Almanack product - and $3 is a small price to pay to greatly expand your universe!  (And you DO not need a telescope, though binoculars are helpful...)

There are a few events coming up that you won't want to miss:
  1. the Jupiter-Venus conjunction on March 15 (once every 24 years);
  2. the annular solar eclipse on May 20 (once every 18 years); and 
  3. the transit of Venus on June 5 (last one til 2117!).
Thanks to Classical Astronomy for providing a pdf download for review, and to
TOS Crew for coordinating the review.  We are not being paid for this review, and all opinions are our own.