Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Review of Celestial Almanack
For the first time since I began reviewing products, we received a product to review which made my husband say wow. That's an endorsement! Through the Crew, I received the February edition of Classical Astronomy's Celestial Almanack free in exchange for my review. I already know that this is a product I will purchase again!
This product is so comprehensive and cool that it is hard to describe but, I'm told, that is my job, so I'll try! The first really neat thing you'll notice about this Almanack is its faithfulness to Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack. The 18th century feel of the typeset and the verbiage made my heart warm to this product immediately! The second really neat thing you'll notice is just how much Jay Ryan has managed to fit into this 21 page study.
The Almanack begins with a discussion of Leap Year and the month of February. It then gives a brief history of how man has reckoned time and the evolution of the calendar. The next page of the Almanack is a day-by-day iteration of February with notable events and the phase of the moon noted. The rest of the Almanack consists of a description of how the night sky appears in February with detailed maps of various constellations and directions on how to identify the various features of the night sky.
Mr. Ryan's love for his subject comes through on every page. His enthusiasm and excitement are contagious. Best of all, he doesn't assume that everyone has a high powered telescope. If you do, consider yourself incredibly lucky! For those who own only a small telescope, though, there are plenty of celestial entities to see. If you don't own a telescope at all, don't feel dismissed. Much of what Mr. Ryan describes is visible to the naked eye and, with his excellent tutelage, you will see more than you ever thought possible!
You don't have to be an astronomical devotee to find the things Mr. Ryan talks about. In fact, he has diagrams of everything he discusses (from the perspective of a February sky) so that anyone can find what he's talking about. I learned more about astronomy from this jam-packed Almanack than I ever have before. I will definitely be buying next month's edition!
If I had one complaint about the Almanack, it is that I couldn't print it because of all the diagrams - I think it would have used a whole cartridge of black ink! Having said that, though, I wouldn't change a thing. Those diagrams are what make the Almanack so special and such a great deal. For those who don't like reading documents on the computer, though, the printing cost is something to consider.
Because I received a free download of the Almanack, I didn't know at first how much it cost. I was, quite literally, shocked to find out that it only cost $3.99. I would place its value at easily three times that amount. I simply can't describe how much information is in this one little product. If you wanted to do astronomy as your science you could, with only this one monthly booklet. (You don't have to rely solely on that, though, since Mr. Ryan also publishes a homeschool astronomy curriculum, available on his website.) The Celestial Almanack is available from CurrClick for $3.99. January is also available, and March is forthcoming.
My family are huge fans of the Celestial Almanack. To find out how other Crew members like the Almanack, visit the Crew blog.