Pearls of the Southern Skies

pearls_of_the_southern_skies_620x438Authors: Dieter Willasch and Auke Slotegraaf
Publisher: Firefly
ISBN: 978-1-770-85445-1
Price: £25 (Hb) 176pp

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This landscape-format coffee table book is a compendium of the best deep sky objects visible from the Southern Hemisphere. The authors have produced an eye-catching but extremely useful guide to some fairly exotic objects. First and foremost, in any book that is based heavily on the pictures, it is critical that the reproduction is good. Happily, a combination of heavy paper stock and intermediate gloss finish means that the reproduction is perfect.

After a brief introductory text the first image is a double page spread of the southern Milky Way (by Axel Mellinger) showing the location of many of the targets in the book. From thereon the format is generally a full page image on the left hand side and explanatory text on the right. Occasionally the authors have placed a smaller wide-field image of the main object on the right hand page and this works well to place the principal image in context. The text is very well written and contains a selection of historical, factual and observational information and complements the images very nicely.

Beneath the text the authors have placed a compass orientation, object category (nebula, galaxy, etc.) along with right ascension and declination coordinates and catalogue name. The authors have also used popular names gleaned from the astronomical literature and have supplied a few names themselves. So NGC 6357 is also known as the ‘War and Peace Nebula’! Some of the targets will be familiar to northerners, but most are less well known, such as NGC 6744, the ‘Furious Dancer Galaxy’ and NGC 3199, the ‘Carina Smile Nebula’. Following on from the images are sections of text that elaborate on specific categories of deep sky objects and then identification images showing the location of objects to the main target.

This is a wonderful book that is carefully researched and has images that are well reproduced.

Reviewed by Nik Szymanek