Heavenly. That’s the way I would describe night sailing. Since seeing the book, Stikky Night Skies, now I know why. (“Stikky” is the name of a growing series of books because each book offers “Essential stuff that stikks in your head.”) Night sailing is about being able to see the stars as never before. Night sailing is about getting away from the city skies and the marina lights. Night sailing is about being up in the middle of the night when it’s dark outside. On a clear night on the water the stars are diamonds on a velvet cloth.

But which ones are which? I’ve always wanted to know. So when we received a copy of Stikky Night Skies, I gave it a whirl and was extremely impressed . . . so much so that I have been carrying this book around for two months (to the East Coast and back while traveling, even) in an effort to find a sky dark enough to practice what I have learned.

This book will get any kid or adult beginner star-seeker instantly involved. With the help of this book I’ve learned to identify six constellations: Orion, Big Dipper, Cassiopeia, Taurus, Cygnus, and Pleiades. I can find these four stars: Betelgeuse, Polaris, Vega, and Sirius. I know where to look in the night sky for the planets and the Milky Way. I know how to find north using Polaris. It’s a heck of a start for a beginner and (as I write this in early summer) I can’t wait to go night sailing where the stars are at their best!

This book is a series of practice pages with stars depicted and useful and fun information every so often. The sky rotates on you (just as the real sky will do) so you don’t get complacent, and the scale is changed from time to time to include more or fewer of the heavenly bodies. This last part is a bit disorienting (I don’t expect the real sky to do that to me), but I was able to catch on.

The Stikky folks are right: they have a way of presenting this information so that it stikks in the reader’s head. Since I’ve always wanted to know more, I’m grateful for the opportunity. They impart this wisdom to their readers, and it’s worth sharing here: “You would not have gotten far in ancient times without knowing your way around the night sky. Indeed, it may be the only thing your distant ancestors would recognize today.”

Stikky Night Skies No Author Listed, (Lawrence Holt Books, 2003; 234 pages)