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From the Cataloger’s Desk: Constellations in the Collection

April 7, 2018

If you read my blog on a regular basis, you might recall a post from last year entitled “Celebrating the Beauty of Nature.” In it, I discuss three books with a “springtime” theme: Flower Guide: Wild Flowers East of the Rockies; Tree Guide: Trees East of the Rockies; and The Butterfly Guide: a Pocket Manual for the Ready Identification of the Commoner Species Found in the United States and Canada. I was pleasantly surprised when a similar book came my way just a few months ago.

The Star Guide: a Practical Pocket Guide for Field Identification and Study of the Constellations was published in 1934 and includes plates and diagrams representing more than 60 constellations. With the arrival of spring and the anticipation of nice weather and clear skies, many of us will find ourselves enjoying the outdoors and gazing with wonder up at the stars. If you’re like me, however, you know nothing about astronomy or the constellations. I can identify the Big Dipper, but that’s about it. If you want to learn some basics, and perhaps impress others with your celestial knowledge, this book should do the trick.

Major and minor constellations are examined, and best of all, there are fascinating tidbits regarding mythology. I particularly enjoyed reading about the “Royal Family of Starland,” which includes Cassiopeia (“The Lady in the Chair”), Cepheus (“The King”), Andromeda (“The Chained Lady”), and Perseus (“The Champion”).

Expert and amateur astronomers alike will find something of interest in this guidebook. Thankfully, the information has been condensed and is not too overwhelming. There are supplementary tables and charts at the end, as well as general facts about the sun, moon, planets, meteors, Milky Way, and Zodiac. I am certainly inspired to learn more about the stars and constellations, and maybe one day, I will be able to identify more than just the Big Dipper!

The catalog record for this item can be found here.

Lindsay Borman is the cataloger of Printed Collections at the Indiana Historical Society. Her claim to fame: She can name all of the U.S. presidents ... in order!

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