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Category >>   Sky Myths & Lore
   Books about ancient celestial myths and legends from the world's cultures.
Star Tales by Ian Ridpath   Star Tales
Expanded Edition

by Ian Ridpath
160 pages, September 2018
Level: All

Highly Recommended

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Description: Every night, a pageant of Greek mythology circles overhead. Perseus flies to the rescue of Andromeda, Orion faces the charge of the snorting Bull, and the ship of the Argonauts sails in search of the Golden Fleece. Constellations are the invention of the human imagination, not of nature. They are an expression of the human desire to impress its own order upon the apparent chaos of the night sky. Modern science tells us that these twinkling points of light are glowing balls of gas, but the ancient Greeks, to whom we owe many of our constellations, knew nothing of this.

Ian Ridpath, well-known astronomy writer and broadcaster, has been intrigued by the myths of the stars for many years. Star Tales is the first modern guide to combine all the fascinating myths in one book, illustrated with the beautiful and evocative engravings from two of the leading star atlases: Johann Bode's Uranographia of 1801 and John Flamsteed's Atlas Ceolestis of 1729. This is an excellent reference and the perfect gift for the armchair astronomer and those interested in classical mythology alike.

Amazon.com Customer Comment: I have read this book five times already, it is that amazing! It is a must for any amateur astronomer, as it will be one of the most satisfying reads in your career! more»

Ancient Skies by David Weston Marshall   Ancient Skies
Constellation Mythology of the Greeks

by David Weston Marshall
272 pages, August 2018
Level: All

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Description: Look to the sky and see the stories in the stars.

The stars and constellations are among the few remaining objects that appear to us just as they appeared to our distant ancestors. From anywhere on Earth, a person may view the celestial panorama simply by stepping outside at night and gazing upward.

This non-fiction narrative presents the tales of the forty-eight classical constellations, compiled from literature spanning a thousand years from Homer (c. 800 BC) to Claudius Ptolemy (c. 150 AD). These age-old tales have captured the human imagination from ancient times to the present, and through them we can examine the early practical astronomy, philosophical speculation on the cosmos, and fundamental moral beliefs of much of Western civilization.

Illustrations and star charts carefully reconstructed from ancient sources lend a visual element and immerse the reader in the world of ancient cosmology and constellation mapping. Through Marshall's research and storytelling, Ancient Skies brings the belief systems of the classical world to shining life. Includes 75 b&w illustrations.

About the Author: David W. Marshall, PhD, is a historian and archivist on the faculty of Texas Tech University, with 34 years of experience as a researcher, instructor, professor and archivist. He is the author of Mountain Man: John Colter, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and the Call of the American West (Countryman Press, 2016). He lives in Lorenzo, Texas.

Star Myths of the Greeks and Romans by Theony Condos   Star Myths of the Greeks and Romans
A Sourcebook

by Theony Condos
288 pages, January 1997
Level: Scholar

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Description: Star Myths of the Greeks and Romans is the most comprehensive work ever published on the forty-eight classical constellations. Included in this handbook are the only surviving works on the constellation myths that have come down to us from antiquity: an epitome of The Constellations of Eratosthenes -- never before translated into English -- and The Poetic Astronomy of Hyginus. Also provided are accurate and detailed commentaries on each constellation myth, and complete references for those who wish to dig deeper. This book is a comprehensive sourcework for anyone interested in astronomy or mythology -- and an ideal resource for the occasional stargazer.

Amazon.com Customer Comment: Star Myths is an excellent sourcebook - for a serious student. If you're looking for entertaining and engaging writing, look elsewhere. more»

Written in the Stars -- Constellations, Facts and Folklore by Alison Davies   Written in the Stars
Constellations, Facts and Folklore

by Alison Davies and Jesus Sotes Vicente (illustrator)
208 pages, August 2018
Level: Beginner

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Description: For anyone who has ever looked up at the night sky and longed to know more about the constellations that inhabit it then this is the perfect guide to discovering the stars. Written in the Stars will lead you through the heavens above as you discover the scientific facts, legends, and myths that surround the 88 constellations of the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

Uncover the patterns in the stars through the richly illustrated pages of this charming book as each entry brings each constellation to life in the magical artwork of this book. Beautifully packaged, stars are included throughout along with key information of where to spot each constellation in the night sky to help you to identify the celestial bodies above us. Visually stunning, Written in the Stars captures the beauty of the stars and is the perfect gift for novice stargazers and armchair astronomers alike.

Amazon.com Customer Comment: I've been on the lookout for a book that catalogues the constellations a little more compehensively than just your average book of Greek myths, and this volume fills that void admirably. more»

The New Patterns in the Sky -- Myths and Legends of the Stars by Julius D.W. Staal   The New Patterns in the Sky
Myths and Legends of the Stars

by Julius D.W. Staal
300 pages, September 1996
Level: All

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Description: The New Patterns in the Sky -- a modern classic in the literature of sky lore -- is a comprehensive collection of myths, legends, and historical notes about each of the 88 constellations and the Sun, Moon, Milky Way, and shooting stars. Star maps depict the constellations with outline figures. Written for the non-specialist and widely respected by professional planetarians, this book provides a substantive review of the familiar star lore of classical Southwest Asian and Mediterranean civilizations as well as that of ancient China, South Asia, and traditional societies of northern Eurasia, North and South America, the Pacific Islands, and Australasia. This is one of the must-have books that should be in the library of every enthusiast of mankind's enchantment with the night sky.

Amazon.com Customer Comment: We have several very good books that help us identify heavenly bodies and learn specifics about our corner of the galaxy. This book is a little different: the late Julius D. W. Staal offers the stories behind the stars, an approach that addresses the cultural, rather than the scientific, aspect of constellations. more»

Uncharted Constellations -- Asterisms, Single-Source and Rebrands by John C. Barentine   Uncharted Constellations
Asterisms, Single-Source and Rebrands

by John C. Barentine
240 pages, 1st Edition, April 2016
Level: All

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Book Description: This book compiles an array of interesting constellations that fell by the wayside before the IAU established the modern canon of constellations. That decision left out lesser known ones whose history is nevertheless interesting, but at last author John Barentine is giving them their due. This book is a companion to "The Lost Constellations", highlighting the more obscure configurations.

The 16 constellations found in this volume fall into one or more of three broad categories: asterims, such as the Big Dipper in Ursa Major; single-sourced constellations introduced on surviving charts by a cartographer perhaps currying the favor of sponsors; and re-brands, new figures meant to displace existing constellations, often for an ideological reason. All of them reveal something unique about the development of humanity's map of the sky.

Amazon.com Customer Comment: Very good introduction to visual stargazing, and a required orientation to the night sky. more»

The Lost Constellations: A History of Obsolete, Extinct, or Forgotten Star Lore by John C. Barentine   The Lost Constellations
A History of Obsolete, Extinct, or Forgotten Star Lore

by John C. Barentine
528 pages, 1st Edition, October 2015
Level: All

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Book Description: Casual stargazers are familiar with many classical figures and asterisms composed of bright stars (e.g., Orion and the Plough), but this book reveals not just the constellations of today but those of yesteryear. The history of the human identification of constellations among the stars is explored through the stories of some influential celestial cartographers whose works determined whether new inventions survived. The history of how the modern set of 88 constellations was defined by the professional astronomy community is recounted, explaining how the constellations described in the book became permanently "extinct."

Dr. Barentine addresses why some figures were tried and discarded, and also directs observers to how those figures can still be picked out on a clear night if one knows where to look. These lost constellations are described in great detail using historical references, enabling observers to rediscover them on their own surveys of the sky. Treatment of the obsolete constellations as extant features of the night sky adds a new dimension to stargazing that merges history with the accessibility and immediacy of the night sky.

Amazon.com Customer Comment: Very good introduction to visual stargazing, and a required orientation to the night sky. more»

Star Stories by Anita Ganeri and Andy Wilx   Star Stories
Constellation Tales From Around the World

by Anita Ganeri and Andy Wilx (illustrator)
96 pages, July 2019

Age Range: 8 to 11 years

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Description: Share the wonder of the stars with this delightful storybook collection featuring constellation myths from around the world.

For thousands of years people have looked up to the night sky and told stories about the stars. These epic tales tell of vengeful gods and goddesses, of monsters and heroes. Others try to make sense of the natural world, or unravel the mysterious forces of the universe. This stunning book brings together 23 of these legends from all over the world: from Ancient Greece to North America, Egypt, China, India, and the South Pacific. Written by award-winning author Anita Ganeri and with beautifully detailed artwork by illustrator Andy Wilx, this is a magical book to be treasured for generations to come.

Reviewer's Comment: This beautiful book brings together legends from around the world that relate to constellations. There are stories about Heracles, Pegasus, Taurus, The Big Dipper and Orion. Each is just a few pages long but had enough information to be interesting to both adults and children. The illustrations are striking, in predominantly gold and warm colours, some of them covering whole pages, and some dotted around the text, so there is plenty to catch the eye. more»

What We See in the Stars by Kelsey Oseid   What We See in the Stars
An Illustrated Tour of the Night Sky

by Kelsey Oseid
160 pages, 1st Edition, September 2017
Level: Beginner

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Description: A richly illustrated guide to the myths, histories, and science of the celestial bodies of our solar system, with stories and information about constellations, planets, comets, the northern lights, and more.

Combining art, mythology, and science, What We See in the Stars gives readers a tour of the night sky through more than 100 magical pieces of original art, all accompanied by text that weaves related legends and lore with scientific facts. This beautifully packaged book covers the night sky's most brilliant features -- such as the constellations, the moon, the bright stars, and the visible planets -- as well as less familiar celestial phenomena like the outer planets, nebulae, and deep space. Adults seeking to recapture the magic of youthful stargazing, younger readers interested in learning about natural history and outer space, and those who appreciate beautiful, hand-painted art will all delight in this charming book.

Amazon.com Customer Comment: Extremely beautiful artwork and great, simple explanations of interesting and complicated astro topics. It's a real joy to read and we can't wait to give copies as gifts to our friends. Get the hard copy! more»

They Dance in the Sky -- Native American Star Myths   They Dance in the Sky
Native American Star Myths

by Ray A. Williamson, Jean Guard Monroe, and Edgar Stewart
144 pages, July 2007
Level: Teen and Young Adult

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Description: With tea leaves and in the night sky, people have always tried to impose patterns on seemingly random groupings. This well-researched, thoughtful collection brings together star myths from such Native American tribes as the Navajo, Pawnee, Shasta and Micmac. Coyote is a bungler who causes trouble on every front: in one story he peeks into a jar and scatters the stars (and then is sent to wander, unwanted, across the earth); in another, he shoots arrows into the sky, which he and five Wolf Brothers ascend but he descends alone. One of the stories about Pleiades tells of six wives who eat wild onions but are scorned by their husbands for the smell of their breath. They leave and climb a rope to the sky. Given the oral tradition of these tribes and the need to preserve the tales, this poetically rendered compilation is especially valuable. Text decorations show symbols, patterns, constellations and some of the many tricksters.

Amazon.com Customer Comment: This book is perfect as a bedtime story book for older kids. I used it on a camping trip and found that they became more interested in astronomy the longer I read the book. more»

A Walk Through the Heavens: A Guide to Stars and Constellations and their Legends   Star Names
Their Lore and Meaning

by Richard Hinckley Allen
563 pages, Revised Edition, December 1963
Level: All

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Book Description: Star names, the zodiac, constellations; folklore and literature associated with heavens. The basic book of its field. Fascinating reading solidly based on years of thorough research into astronomical writings and observations of the ancient Chinese, Arabic, Euphrates, Hellenic and Roman civilizaitons.

Amazon.com Customer Comment: If you need to know why stars and constellations have certain names and how those names came to be this is the book for you. more»

A Walk Through the Heavens: A Guide to Stars and Constellations and their Legends   A Walk Through the Heavens
A Guide to Stars and Constellations and their Legends

by Milton D. Heifetz and Wil Tirion
106 pages, 4th Edition, April 2017
Level: Beginner

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Book Description: What is that star called? Where is the Great Bear? A Walk through the Heavens is a beautiful guide to the pathways in the night sky, and which answers these questions and more. Written for complete beginners, this book introduces the reader to the patterns of the northern hemisphere's sky in a clear and memorable way. Its simplified maps and clear instructions make it easy to find the main constellations and identify the bright stars within them.

This fourth edition adds color and a map of the Moon to its successful formula. Ancient myths and legends of the sky, some thousands of years old, are retold to add to the wonder and mystery of the stars. No equipment is needed to use this practical guide, just the naked eye and clear dark skies above - simply look up, relax and enjoy this journey across the sky.

Amazon.com Customer Comment: Very good introduction to visual stargazing, and a required orientation to the night sky. more»

Skymaps.com/store -- Recommended Books & Products for Skywatchers
New BooksStar AtlasesPlanispheresGetting StartedObserving GuidesTelescope BooksKids BooksSky Myths
History & ArtistryStar Map PrintsAstroPhotographyTelescopes & BinocularsDVDsSoftwareAstro Calendars


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