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Category >>   Getting Started in Sky Watching
   There's no better way to learn about skywatching and the night sky than with a good book.
The Backyard Astronomer's Guide   The Backyard Astronomer's Guide
by Terence Dickinson (author), Alan Dyer (author), and Sara Seager (foreword)
416 pages, 4th Edition, September 2021
Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Highly Recommended

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Book Description: This classic, groundbreaking guide has been the go-to field guide for both beginning and experienced amateur astronomers for nearly 30 years. The fourth edition brings Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer's invaluable manual completely up-to-date. Setting a new standard for astronomy guides, it will serve as the touchstone for the next generation of stargazers as well as longtime devotees.

Technology and astronomical understanding are evolving at a breathtaking clip, and to reflect the latest information about observing techniques and equipment, this massively revised and expanded edition has been completely rebuilt (an additional 48 pages brings the page count to 416). Illustrated throughout with all-new photographs and star charts, this edition boasts a refreshed design and features five brand-new chapters, including three essential essays on binocular, telescope and Moon tours by renowned astronomy writer Ken Hewitt-White.

With new content on naked-eye sky sights, LED lighting technology, WiFi-enabled telescopes and the latest advances in binoculars, telescopes and other astronomical gear, the fourth edition of The Backyard Astronomer's Guide is sure to become an indispensable reference for all levels of stargazers. New techniques for observing the Sun, the Moon and solar and lunar eclipses are an especially timely addition, given the upcoming solar eclipses in 2023 and 2024. Rounding out these impressive offerings are new sections on dark sky reserves, astro-tourism, modern astrophotography and cellphone astrophotography, making this book an enduring must-have guide for anyone looking to improve his or her astronomical viewing experience.

The Backyard Astronomer's Guide also features a foreword by Dr. Sara Seager, a Canadian-American astrophysicist and planetary scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an internationally recognized expert in the search for exoplanets.

Amazon.com Customer Comment: After having this book for a couple of months, I can honestly say that it is one of my most prized astronomy possessions. I cannot think of any case where I got so much really useful information about a subject that I love for so little money. more»

Nightwatch by Terence Dickinson   Nightwatch
A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe

by Terence Dickinson
192 pages, 4th Edition, September 2006.
Revised 4th Edition updated for use through 2025.
Level: Beginner

Highly Recommended #1 Best Seller in Star-Gazing

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Sky & Telescope Review: February 1999 p.78-80


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Terence Dickinson's highly-regarded guidebook for beginning sky watchers. Revised 4th edition updated for use through 2025.

Do you want to learn about Astronomy but don't know where to start? Nightwatch may just be the right book for you. It is written as a complete first book on amateur Astronomy and it has helped thousands of stargazers worldwide through the early stages of celestial exploration.

Nightwatch contains chapters on The Universe, Backyard Astronomy, Stars for all Seasons, Stargazing Equipment (full of good practical advice including factors to consider before you buy your first telescope), Observing Deep Sky Objects, The Planets, Moon and Sun, Solar and Lunar Eclipses, Comets, Meteors and Auroras, Photographing the Night Sky, and Resources.

In addition to 4 seasonal all-sky maps, a set of 20 detailed star charts are included that provide instant information on hundreds of naked-eye, binocular and telescopic objects. Considered by many to be the best book of its kind.

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Amazon.com Customer Comment: The overwhelming number of reviews for this book on Amazon is a testimonial to its stature as a classic introductory stargazing book. The fact that the reviews are uniformly positive testifies to its exceptional quality. Now in its fourth edition, Nightwatch has been introducing amateur astronomers to the night sky for over two decades. Terence Dickinson is a prolific astronomy author and this is one of his most important and enduring works. more»

  National Geographic Stargazer's Atlas
The Ultimate Guide to the Night Sky

by Andrew Fazekas and National Geographic
432 pages, October 2022
Level: All

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Description: Richly illustrated with luminous photographs and informative maps and graphics, this expansive book is the perfect guide for everyone discovering the wonders of the night sky, from those just learning the constellations to dedicated telescope observers.

Combining science, exploration, and storytelling, National Geographic Stargazer's Atlas invites readers to roam the night sky for constellations, planets and moons, eclipses, comets and meteor showers, auroras, and deep-sky treasures including nebulae and galaxies?many visible to the naked eye and all with binoculars or a backyard telescope.

Beginning with basic space science and including a complete set of night sky maps for all four seasons in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, this fascinating book guides the reader toward the most rewarding observations. A unique chapter on astrotourism highlights ancient observatories, dark-sky preserves, and other global destinations for the sky-seeking traveler; a final chapter details current and future space missions and what they might discover.

Richly illustrated with awe-inspiring imagery including photos from space missions and telescopes, science-based artists' interpretations, and explanatory graphics the book also contains 170 maps and charts of planets, moons, and constellations, from Earth's moon to moons of Saturn. Practical advice throughout helps readers see what they have been reading about, building key observational skills such as "star hopping" from easy-to-find stars to fainter deep-sky objects and focusing on "deep sky treasures" areas rich in observable phenomena.

Approachable and authoritative, gorgeous and fascinating, National Geographic Stargazer's Atlas will intrigue all who love to gaze up in wonder at the night sky and find themselves wanting to know more.

Amazon.com Customer Comment: Visually rich information and advice for stargazers. more»

The Total Skywatcher's Manual by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific   The Total Skywatcher's Manual
Skills and Tricks for Exploring Stars, Planets, and Beyond

by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
272 pages, February 2019
Level: Beginner

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Description: For stargazers, comet-spotters and planet-seekers looking to enhance your deep sky knowledge and observations -- this is your quintessential guide. The Total Skywatcher's Manual will help you choose the best telescope, identify constellations and objects in the night sky, search for extraterrestrial phenomena, plan star parties, capture beautiful space imagery and much more. With high-quality design, intricate detail, and a durable flexicover -- this manual is the perfect gift!

With fully illustrated star charts, gorgeous astrophotography and step-by-step project instruction, this family friendly book is the only guide you'll ever need to navigate the nightsky. Learn about the phases of the moon, how to conduct your own deep-sky observations, how the universe is expanding, our search for life on other planets, meteors vs. meteorites, sunspots and solar flares, best eclipse-viewing techniques -- everything you need to know to appreciate the wonder of our universe.

Based in San Francisco, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific has a 125-year history of providing resources, tools, and information to astronomy enthusiasts, including amateur astronomers, families, and science educators (K-16). Join the ASP on this journey through the nightsky and beyond.

Amazon.com Customer Comment: I have looked at every page, and what a great assortment of tips and techniques, of how-tos and actually useful information -- all accompanied by detailed drawings, photos, and illustrations. This is truly a one-size-fits-all manual on how to skywatch. more»

  50 Things to See with a Telescope
A Young Stargazer's Guide

by John A. Read
72 pages, August 2018
Level: Beginner

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Description: This book explains everything needed to jumpstart a journey in Astronomy. Readers will learn how to identify constellations, planets, stars, galaxies, nebulae and more. Inquisitive stargazers will find planet hunting and star hopping easy with clearly plotted routes. Colorful images of the sky both as seen by the naked eye and detailed views from a telescope will aid in exploration. Many fascinating cosmic objects can be easily spotted with the help of this book including beautiful Cassiopeia, regal Leo, the plentiful Kemble's Cascade, the explosive Crab Nebula, and the rings of Saturn!

This easy to read, illustrated reference book will enrich every young person's experience of the skies above.

About the Author: John A. Read volunteered at hundreds of stargazing events as a member of the Mount Diablo Astronomical Society in California, teaching people of all ages how to use a telescope and find objects in the sky. John is a telescope at the Burke-Gaffney Observatory and a board member at the Halifax Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Amazon.com Customer Comment: This book was our savior: it's simple and objective, with the essential information for a beginner to perform their first steps stargazing. The perfect companion for our first telescope. more»

The Stars by Hans Augusto Rey   The Stars
A New Way to See Them

by Hans Augusto Rey
160 pages, December 2016
Level: Beginner

Highly Recommended

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A classic! Widely recognized as one of the best books for learning the constellations. Written in a unique, simple style that is suitable for young and older stargazers alike. Contains many wonderful illustrations to help teach the novice stargazer about the night sky. Also contains a collection of simple star charts for year round use.

This updated version includes revised facts and figures for planets, and new scientific information has been added. Charts indicate planet locations through the year 2026 and a website for finding locations well into the twenty-first century has been provided.

Amazon.com Customer Comment: This is my all-time favorite book from my youth. I have many, many memories of me and my dad spending hours up on the roof at night, looking at this book through our red-painted flashlight, naming the stars and tracing the constellations. more»

365 Starry Nights   365 Starry Nights
An Introduction to Astronomy for Every Night of the Year

by Chet Raymo
240 pages, January 1990. Reissue Edition.
Level: Beginner

Highly Recommended

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Book Description: 365 Starry Nights is a unique and delightful introduction to astronomy designed to give you a complete, clear picture of the sky every night of the year. Divided into 365 concise, illustrated essays, it focuses on the aesthetic as well as the scientific aspects of stargazing. It offers up-to-date information, with hundreds of charts, drawings, and maps (sample page) that take you beyond the visible canopy of stars and constellations into the unseen realm of nebulae and galaxies.

This simple yet substantial text is full of critical information and helpful hints on how to observe the stars; describe their position; calculate their age, brightness, and distance; and much more. Whether you observe the sky with a telescope or the unaided eye, 365 Starry Nights makes the infinite intimate and brings the heavens within your grasp. Keep this invaluable, informative guide close at hand, and you'll find that the sky is the limit 365 nights a year.

Amazon.com Customer Comment: This lovely book is for all of the folks who swear that one picture is worth a thousand words. The beautiful, romantic illustrations make it possible for novices to easily discern what stars are in their sky on whatever day of the year it happens to be. more»

Constellations of the Northern Skies   Constellations of the Northern Skies
National Audubon Society Pocket Guides

by Gary Mechler, Mark R. Chartrand and Wil Tirion (illustrator)
192 pages, April 1995
Level: Beginner

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The National Audubon Society Pocket Guide to Constellations is a compact guide to the night sky of the northern hemisphere. It contains full-color seasonal sky charts which are perfect for the beginning stargazer to use in learning the sky. Full-color charts are provided for each constellation showing bright stars and deep-sky objects. Descriptions of the objects in each constellation are also provided on the facing page.

Amazon.com Customer Comment: This tiny book packs the only most useful information into the smallest usable size, small enough to fit in a shirt pocket. I keep mine in my binocular case. It has compact overview maps showing constellations and a few selected objects by season, then constellation by constellation maps with greater detail and many objects which can be seen in binoculars or a small telescope. more»

Astronomy: A Self-Teaching Guide   Astronomy: A Self-Teaching Guide
by Dinah L. Moché
388 pages, 8th Edition, July 2014
Level: Beginner

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Book Description: For a generation, Astronomy: A Self-Teaching Guide has introduced hundreds of thousands of readers worldwide to the night sky. Now this classic beginner's guide has been completely revised to bring it up to date with the latest discoveries. Updated with the latest, most accurate information, new online resources, and more than 100 new graphics and photos. The 8th Edition features:

  • Website addresses throughout for the best color images and astronomy resources online
  • Technical ideas made simple without mathematics
  • A beautiful updated full-color, glossy insert with spectacular images
  • An interactive format with learning goals, reviews, self-tests, and answers for fast learning
Dinah L. Moché, PhD, is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the City University of New York. An award-winning author and lecturer, her books have sold over nine million copies in seven languages.

Amazon.com Customer Comment: I am a college professor and have used earlier editions of this book as a required text and also as a recommended text for an introductory astronomy course. I like this book because it has the information that is needed and is not overloaded with extraneous information or pictures. It gets to the point. 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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