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Review: ‘Night Skies of Botswana’ by Stephen O’Meara

Picture: Patrick McManaman/Unsplash

Reviews by Lesley Thomson

Botswana is one of the best locations in Africa to view the stars. Night Skies of Botswana is an easy to read and follow guide, especially as all stars described can be seen with the naked eye, thus it is ideal for amateurs, laymen and enthusiasts.

This superb guide opens with stargazing tips, introducing important astronomical concepts, describing the galaxy and the Earth’s place in it. There are four sky charts per month presenting views from north, south, east and west, with supporting descriptions of the stars and constellations.

A notable addition to this guide is the local legends about the skies, honouring the indigenous Batswana people’s culture.

The final chapter surveys the solar system, including the Sun, Moon, planets and leftover debris. There’s information on a meteorite strike in Botswana in 2018, and how to identify artificial satellites orbiting the Earth (including the International Space Station).

Stephen O’Meara, who lives in Botswana, is a well known astronomer and was the first to sight Halley’s Comet on its 1985 return. Asteroid 3637 O’Meara was named in his honour.

There is a mine of interesting information in this guide and as binoculars and telescopes are not necessary, it can be enjoyed at any time.

***ISBN 978 1 77584 693 2 – Published by Struik/Penguin Random House. Rrp R240

100 Trees to See on Safari – by Quentin Luke and Henk Beenjie
Easy ID Guide for East Africa

East Africa is not just about remarkable wildlife and scenery, it also has amazing flora, among which is a wide range of icon trees.

This colourful, detailed, and easy to follow guide, light enough to take into the field, has concise descriptions of 100 trees, including their uses, flowers, leaves, fruit and bark, common and Latin names as well as local names.

The guide starts with a clear map of East Africa, showing its reserves and national parks, definition of what a tree is, a map of habitats and how to use the guide. The illustrated glossary of a tree and a flower will be of value to the layman, as will the terms and names that are used in identify different species.

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As so many of the East Africa trees are similar to those in southern Africa, this guide will be useful to any traveller and visitor to these regions of Africa.

Quentin Luke is a botanical consultant and senior research associate at the East African Herbarium, and Henk Beentjie has worked as a botanist at the National Museum of Kenya, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London. Between them they have produced a colourful, interesting and handy guide which can only enhance one’s knowledge and enjoyment of being among trees.

**ISBN 978 1 77584 549 2 – Published by Struik Nature/Penguin Random House. Rrp R180.

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