FastTrak – Patrick Moore’s Guide to the Universe review

stars and planets from the master of games
Photo of FastTrak – Patrick Moore’s Guide to the Universe
£30

Patrick Moore’s name is synonymous with astronomy. Host of the television programme ‘The Sky at Night’ for what seems like several hundred years, he’s also a prolific author and former head of the British Astronomical Association. One of Britain’s greatest characters, he even managed to maintain his respected reputation after a stint on Gamesmaster, which is no mean feat in itself. Along with two other leading astronomers, Jiri Grygar and Zdenek Pokorny, he has provided the information, text and speech for this program, which is a leisurely stroll through the universe.

Requiring no hard drive space at all, the program is navigated by clicking on the preferred object or index item. The information in Patrick Moore’s Guide to the Universe ranges from the basic to intermediary level. There’s nothing here that’s particularly taxing, but the topics covered include the Big Bang, space exploration, constellations and the formation of planets and stars. Each click brings up a new page of descriptive text and diagrams, including information on black holes and practical tips on star-gazing (basically, get as far as you can from cities).

Much of the written text is also read aloud by Patrick or one of his colleagues, and the inclusion of video footage of events such as a walk on the surface of the moon helps to keep the interest levels up. Where more complex diagrams are necessary, they are drawn step-by-step as the user clicks on the mouse button. The information is so accessible that it’s hard not to keep coming back for more.

Company: FastTrak

Contact: 01923 495496


Verdict
I used to be fascinated by astronomy, but that was severely beaten out of me following a college course in the subject, which was all maths and no fun. This CD brought back all the fascination of those early days. Patrick Moore knows his subject well and, more importantly, knows how to get the information across in a clear and accurate manner. Novice astronomers will get a lot of pleasure and information from this program.