Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 December 2010
Surely there is not another field of human contemplation so wondrously rich as astronomy! It is so easy to reach, so responsive to every mood, so stimulating, uplifting, abstracting, and infinitely consoling. Everybody may not be a chemist, a geologist, a mathematician, but everybody may be and ought to be, in a modest, personal way, an astronomer, for star-gazing is a great medicine of the soul.
With those words, Garret Serviss embarked on his book Round the Year with the Stars. Published in 1910, Round the Year with the Stars brought readers to sights that few had ever seen before. Serviss was one of his generation's best-known astronomical authors, with several previous titles to his credit. Indeed, he was almost apologetic for writing this latest work. “The writer's only real excuse for appearing again in this particular field is that he has never yet finished a book, and seen it go forth, without feeling that he had overlooked, or cast aside, or of necessity omitted a multitude of things quite as interesting and important as any he had touched upon.”
That is my excuse, as well. In the 100 years since Serviss's book first appeared, there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of observing guides published. I have written a couple of them myself. Some were general guides intended to introduce the reader to the sky's finest objects. Others paid homage to only certain classes of objects, restricting their discussion to only deep-sky objects or perhaps members of the Solar System.