Covent Garden Books (Dorling Kindersley Ltd) London 1999. 38 pp. hardback A4, £8.99.
This book is designed to introduce young people to the delights of astronomy by giving readers practical projects to do. These range from making simple observations and recording the results to demonstrating the expansion of the universe by blowing up a balloon. Other experiments, for example, show the reason for varying brightness in occulting variable stars, how comets grow tails and why the shape of the planet Jupiter is ellipsoidal due to its speed of rotation.
The Sun, Moon and planets are individually described together with sections on comets, meteors, stars and galaxies. There are hints on how to observe sunspots safely and what to look for on the surface of the Moon. There are tables giving some details of planets, stars, meteor showers and galaxies.
The book is beautifully produced with coloured pictures and diagrams. The text is easy to read and for each experiment there is a list of materials required for its completion. An index of contents and a list of useful addresses are included.
Harry Ford has spent a lifetime teaching astronomy to people of all ages and firing them with his enthusiasm for the subject. I recommend this volume as a Christmas present for any girl or boy who has looked not once, but twice, at the night sky and asked "What is a star?"