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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Lamont - Astrology Blog

The Practical Astronomer (BOOK REVIEW)

BOOK REVIEW (The Practical Astronomer)

Publisher – Dorling Kindersley LTD

Hardcover 256P ISBN – 978-0-2413-0223-1

2nd edition print 2017

$34 Amazon (AUS) paperback - $35 QBD Books (AUS) Hardcover

Reviewed by William Lamont


Will Gater is a professional astronomer, author and presenter in the UK, he conducts media appearances has a travelling theatrical show on the solar system and has recently released a children’s book mysteries of the universe. Anton Vamplew is an English amateur astronomer, author and lecturer who started out on radio with a phone in astronomy show. He joined the royal observatory Greenwich as a presenter in 1999 and has made numerous appearances on the BBC children’s show becoming known as the blue Peter astronomer.


Dorling Kindersley was founded in Kensington in 1974 as a book packager and started publishing books in 1982. They opened their Australian office in 1999 and become part of the Penguin random house company in 2013 to date they have been operating for over 45 years publishing books on knowledge, life, travel and children’s subjects.


The modern not to glossy hardcover suggest a practicality the book shares with its name sake. Its size weight and firm cover seem ideal for working outside at night. The pages within are coloured gloss but again not overly glossy. The book is filled with beautiful astro photography, cute constellation images, ancient mythology images, star maps and excellent brightly coloured educational diagrams.


It was good to see that although astrology as a topic did come up a few times the authors were professional and kept to facts, there were no vailed jibes at astrology within this book. The back of the book left a little space, pardon the pun for some personal acknowledgment's from the authors which was a nice touch also. And I should mention the publisher has a green environmental and ethical pledge at different levels in there supply chain that is in effect and has a 2030 climate neutral target.


This is a 2nd edition book revised from an earlier 2010 publication, the new edition has a revised cover and updated star maps. It is written contextually for more modern equipment that is now available to beginner and amateur astronomers in 2017.

Books objective:

The books aim was to take beginners and novice astronomy enthusiast's and teach them the theoretical basics of astronomy in an uncomplicated manner. To then develop their understanding while giving them practical applications for the use of modern equipment, and to combine this with what is learnt at a theoretical level to become amateur astronomers.

Book overview:

Firstly, I am looking at this book from an astrologers perspective and writing the review specifically for astrologers. So for me as an astronomy novice who has taken interest but not pursued it directly I found the book to fulfil its primary objective stated above. Although I had an above average understanding of the solar system beforehand. I still found the book to be set out and well written while it was extremely practical in the way it explained terms with an exceptional glossary in the back of the book. There was good advice on the best equipment to use and why along with specification details to make locating the right items easier. One small negative is the font size is quite small and pages a slightly glossy so the page readability isn’t fantastic I would avoid direct desk light and read in a well lit area. Firstly chapters focused on understanding the universe with some simple observation tips that would make even a novice seem like an expert to the masses. While the following chapters where full of standard astronomy for astrologers and observations etc. But also the use of instruments that are not as common to astrologers. Middle chapters gave details uncommon to most astrologers and focused on the various forms of observation and there application. While other chapters had a very complete biography of the 88 main constellations with maps, history and mythology explained nicely. Later chapters once again had predominantly elements of astronomy astrologers would be familiar with like observation of orbits, eclipse, occultations and transits etc. As well as retrogrades oppositions superior and inferior planets etc. The back of the book has a nice almanac of astronomical events and some very detailed tables of most objects in the sky from planets to meteors or deep space objects. The educational diagrams are really great in this book and although only minor in the scheme of things they were a standout feature for me with vibrant colours and being clear to understand.


Overall the practical astronomer is an asset for any astrologer looking to have robust references for observational astrology, star and constellation knowledge, theoretical understanding of the earths primary and secondary motions, solar system orbits, retrogrades and planetary phases it’s in part overkill in some areas and yet essential in others.


Dorling Kindersley

Anton Vamplew

Will Gater

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