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Astronomy book Reviews !

Recommended Astronomy Magazine.

For decades, I've been a subscriber to Astronomy Magazine. Each month, along with beautiful astrophotos and in-depth articles, it features "The Sky This Month" fold-out section that includes a large map of the night sky. Their website contains much valuable information, including current news stories (you can subscribe to the magazine there as well).

The September issue celebrates the 30th anniversary of the magazine. They devote much of the issue to a look back at those 30 years. Their selection of the 30 Great Astronomical Images is a beautiful gallery of the showpieces of astrophotography.


October's cover story is a goodbye to the Galileo spacecraft, slated for a fiery plunge into Jupiter's atmosphere on September 21, 2003.

They also include an interview with Phil Plait, creator of the website.

October Astronomy Magazine     September Astronomy Magazine

The Year-Round Messier Marathon Field Guide : With Complete Maps, Charts and Tips to Guide You to Enjoying the Most Famous List of Deep-Sky Objects
by Harvard (H. C.) Pennington

This is an extremely helpful book. I rate it among the very best for helping in your Messier Object search. Unfortunately, it seems to be out of print. offers to get it within 4-6 weeks, but when I ordered it, they were unable to deliver after eight weeks.

Fortunately, I found a copy at Sky Publishing online, and it was available immediately! Click here to buy.

You may also try clicking on the Pocono Mountain Optics link in the section below.... They still seem to have it in stock.

Buy it now!

Deep Sky Companions: The Messier Objects
by Stephen James O'Meara

O'Meara is a talented artist/illustrator who has lovingly reproduced each of the Messier Objects here. What makes this book so useful is that rather than photographs, you see what the human eye sees what O'Meara saw looking through a typical amateur scope. This book is very useful for getting a true idea of what you will see through your own scope.

Buy it now!

Nightwatch : A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe
by Terence Dickinson, Timothy Ferris, Victor Costanzo (Illustrator)

This was my very first astronomy book, and is still the general field guide/reference I use most often. An absolute must-have for astronomers of any ability. Beautifully written with clear, legible charts, this is a book that will accompany you on every star party.

Buy it now!

The Soul of the Night : An Astronomical Pilgrimmage
by Chet Raymo

If you have a poet in your soul, this is a great book for you. Raymo does a wonderful job of exploring the wonder, awe and beauty of astronomy. This is not so much an astronomy book as a piece of incredible literature. Some of my serious astronomer friends think the book is a bit too "gee-whiz," and the prose a bit too "purple," but I think they just need some more right-brain exercise! A great gift for non-astronomers with open minds.

Buy it now!

  The Backyard Astronomer's Guide
by Terence Dickinson (Preface), Alan Dyer (Preface)

This book is a natural follow-up to "Nightwatch," above. It's useful, thorough, and easy to understand. I do not consider it a field-guide type book that you will take on your observing sessions, but it is useful to have in your collection.

Buy it now!

  Advanced Skywatching
by Robert Burnham, Alan Dyer, Robert A. Garfinkle, Martin George, Jeff Kanipe, David H. Levy

This Nature Company Guide/Time Life Book is a great read, mainly because it is presented almost as a series of magazine articles. I spent a long August afternoon at The Local Group's annual White Mountain Star Party curled up in a hammoc and reading this book. It is definitely not a field guide, and frankly, I wouldn't consider it a true reference work, but if you just want a broad understanding of the heavens presented in a clear, readable format with lots of good pictures, this is the book for you.

Buy it now!

  No Picture Available. The Universe from Your Backyard
by David J. Eicher

This is a good general introduction to deep sky objects. What I like about it is that it doesn't focus solely on the Messier Objects, but includes many of the NGC objects as well. It is a good text for the advanced beginner or intermediate amateur.

Buy it now!

Star Ware : The Amateur Astronomer's Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Buying, and Using Telescopes and Accessories
by Philip S. Harrington

If you have not yet purchased a scope, if you already have a scope and are thinking about adding to your collection, or you are thinking about buying eyepieces or any other accessories (in other words, if you are an amateur astronomer who breathes!), this book is invaluable. I have lent my copy to countless people, and when they return it, they invariably tell me they purchased a copy for themselves. A must-have.

Buy it now!

  A Walk Through the Heavens
by Milton D. Heifetz an Wil Tirion

Beginning astronomers who have yet to even learn their constellations will find this book helpful. What's nice about it is that it is a slim, compact volume that introduces the naked-eye night sky. It illustrates and explains the constellations in such a way that should help any astronomer find his or her way around the stars.

Buy it now!

  Blind Watchers of the Sky
by Rocky Kolb

Of all the books on my list, this is the only history of astronomy. It presents not a dry recounting of dates, people and events, but a living history of the changing perspectives that have guided mankind's exploration of the universe. Although a very pleasant read, it may be a bit heavy going for beginners lookiing for a simpler outlook. (For them, I would recommend "Soul of the Night" above.)

Buy it now!

  365 Starry Nights : An Introduction to Astronomy for Every Night of the Year
by Chet Raymo

This book is written for beginners, but I was given it as a gift after I'd been doing astronomy for several years. I still enjoyed it. It has the background stories for all the constellations, and useful hints for star-hopping that go beyond the familiar "follow the arc to Arcturus" advice.

Buy it now!

Cambridge Star Atlas
by Wil Tirion

Many experienced amateurs consider this to be THE star atlas to own for beginning to intermediate star gazers. It is a simplified version of the Sky Atlas 2000. Though useful, it may scare away very new beginners with its massive number of stars catalogued and somewhat intimidating notation.

Buy it now!

  The Star Guide
by Robin Kerrod

This book is another that I would consider more of a desk reference than a field book. It presents a fairly general overview of the night sky, and in fact includes a planisphere. I'd rate it a useful book for the very serious beginner, but I wouldn't put it on my must-have list.

Buy it now!

  The Planets
by David McNab and James Younger

The Planets bears the distinction of being the only book on this list that could double as a "coffee table book." Big in format and beautifully illustrated, this work tells you everything you could possibly want to know about our nearest celestial neighbors. Neither a field reference nor a desk reference, this book is a pleasure simply to read and study.

Buy it now!

  Burnham's Celestial Handbook
by Robert Burnham, Jr.

This book seems to be one of the most widely owned reference titles for astronomers, and indeed, it seems to have everything. However, I find it dry and textbook-like in its approach and presentation. Although useful to have as a sort of encyclopedic reference, the horrible typeface of my edition and data-intensive charts make this one of my least-used astronomy books.

Buy it now!

Sadly, Brent Watson's titles are not carried by, but I've found them extremely useful. I consider all the following books to be HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

As of April 3, 2003, Sky Spot Publishing has a new Web site where you can buy them directly:

Set of Messier Objects for the Telrad
by Brent Watson

Next to my scope and finder, these two books are the most-used items in my astronomy arsenal! It is difficult to imagine getting through a deep-sky observing session without them. They literally reduced my time spent finding difficult objects by as much as 90 percent. I cannot recommend them too highly. If you have a Telrad, and you don't have these books, you are wasting time every time you observe.

Bright Sky Objects for the Telrad
by Brent Watson

This set of charts for bright objects is great for those nights when conditions aren't optimal, when you have a lower-powered scope, or when you want to induce enthusiasm in beginners with objects they can easily find.

Overlooked Objects for Telrad
by Brent Watson

As you progress in your Messier search and begin looking for that next set of interesting deep-sky objects, this book will provide you with dozens of worthwhile targets. Although many of the objects in this book benefit most from large aperatures (10" or greater), there are still many objects you can see in smaller scopes. Most unusual, this book points you to an object that can't be seen at all: X-1, the black hole in Cygnus. This is the companion book to my Overlooked Object Log (OOLog). Click here for OOLog.

Finder Charts of Selet Double Stars
by Brent Watson

Finally, a book for double-star fanatics! Those of you who like a respite from the deep-sky stuff, especially those who own refractors, will want to check this book out..


Structures in Space - Bernard Abrams, Michael Stecker

The book describes recent thinking on the structure of the universe, covering such topics as the solar system; spiral arms; the Milky Way; the local group of galaxies; and distant galaxies. It is accompanied by a CD-ROM which contains astronomical photographs.


Star Tales - Ian Ridpath

The book explains the origins and mythology behind the names of all 88 constellations. These are the patterns of stars which the ancients imagined were deities and mythical creatures.
Star Tales

The Observer's Year - Patrick Moore

A companion to his "Yearbook of Astronomy", the book covers the astronomical year on a day to day basis, showing what can be seen in the sky, and what events are happening right up to 2003. There are sky maps to point the way to items of interest, and also hints on observing the planets, anniversary dates, background information on the historical greats in astronomy, plus lots of other useful information and items of interest.

This book is ideal for the newcomer to the hobby, guiding them through the astronomical calendar.

Observers Year

Yearbook of Astronomy: 2003 - Edited by Patrick Moore

Complementing The Observer's Year, this is a handy month by month guide to planetary and astronomical events for 2003, and includes topical articles by leading astronomers, sky charts and astronomical events such as eclipses, comets, meteors, nebulae and phases of the moon, plus an extensive range of specially commissioned articles by some of the world's leading astronomers. Articles include: "Stephen Hawking Celebrates his 60th Birthday"; "Near-Earth Objects: Getting Up Close and Personal" and "Astronomers Behaving Badly".

2003 Yearbook

The Sky At Night - Patrick Moore

The 48 chapters in this book are based around the BBCs 'Sky At Night' TV programme with topics encomapassing the fields of astronomy, space exploration and astrophysics, and track the story of astronomical discoveries in the 1990s. The appearance of the Hale Bopp and Halley's comets, followed by solar and lunar eclipses, caused an upsurge in popular astronomy. The Hubble Space Telescope captured fantastic images from deep space, shedding new light on the structure and origins of the universe. The Mars robot lander sent information about surface conditions on the red planet. The book cover these events and many more, and includes discussions with leading astronomers.

Sky at Night

Patrick Moore on the Moon - Patrick Moore

Patrick Moore is a leading authority on the Moon. NASA relied on his Lunar maps for the Apollo Moon landings. The book, written in his usual readable and entertaining style, is a study of what we know about our nearest heavenly neighbour, the Moon, including tips on observing it. He covers everything from the Apollo 11 moon landing to lunar myths and legends, from the moon's origins to the possibility of establishing a base there

Moon Book

Turn Left at Orion - Guy Joseph Consolmagno & Daniel Michael Davis

Designed to be used at the telescope, this guidebook is intended for budding astronomers. No previous knowledge of astronomy is assumed. The Moon, the planets, and deep sky objects visible in the northern hemisphere are shown as they would appear in a small telescope. There are detailed instructions on how to find these and other objects in the night sky, and what to look for when you have found them.


The Backyard Astronomer's Guide - Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer

As the title suggests, this is a book for both beginners and veteran sky observers who are confined to the limits of their small backyard / garden. The authors suggest what equipment to buy and what to avoid, describe observing techniques, and explain how to find the most interesting celestial objects. Each chapter is illustrated with the latest, breathtaking astrophotography.

book cover

The Marshall Children's Guide to Astronomy - Jacqueline and Simon Mitton

The Universe is full of mystery and excitement. This book provides young readers with the information they need to discover the night sky. The authors, take the most complex concepts and explains them in simple, everyday language. There are spectacular photographs and illustrations depicting supernovas and exploding galaxies. This stunningly illustrated book starts with the wider picture, looking out at the furthest depths of space and travelling back in time to the origins of the Universe before discovering the solar system and the way in which we observe the Universe from our own planet. An ideal combination of fun and fact.


Norton's Star Atlas and Reference Handbook - Edited by Ian Ridpath

This definitive star atlas and reference has been updated to take account of recent developments in observational astronomy. The star maps have been plotted using computer techniques, providing a high degree of accuracy, and shows all the stars visible to the naked eye under ideal skies, as well as objects such as star clusters, nebulae and galaxies. The maps are divided into sections and are accompanied by lists of objects of interest. The handbook section includes observing tips, explanations of technical matters and reference information.

An essential book to have in your library.

Star Atlas

Life on Other Worlds and How to Find It - Stuart Clark

Is there anyone out there? This is THE book for SETI enthusiasts! It reads like a "Who's Who?" of famous astronomers and planet hunters. Dr Stuart Clark explains the current theories and beliefs relating to the exploration for life beyond our own Earth, or exobiology, as it is called, with clear, easy to understand examples. He adopts a multi-disciplinary, approach combining astronomy, life sciences, and the theory of language. The book is right up to date, and is, currently, very topical with many documentaries about the possibility of life on other worlds being shown on TV. The author's sense of humour is clearly evident throughout.

A compelling read, well worth adding to your bookshelf.


Beginner's Guide to Astronomy - Patrick Moore

Patrick Moore has been introducing astronomy to beginners for many years through his books and television programmes. In particular, the Beginner's Guide has been instrumental in introducing beginners to astronomy in the UK more than any other book! The descriptions and diagrams are both simple and yet detailed enough to inspire a lasting interest. There is the usual smattering of stunning photos. It is written in Patrick's clear and no nonsense style that we've come to expect.

Astronomy Guide

The Monthly Sky Guide - Ian Ridpath and Wil Tirion

The fifth edition has been updated for planetary positions and forthcoming eclipses up to the end of 2004. It includes the latest star data from the Hipparcos satellite. The book contains a chapter on each month of the year and is an easy to use handbook for anyone wanting to identify constellations, star clusters, nebulae, galaxies and meteor showers, to plot the movement of planets, or to witness solar and lunar eclipses. Most of the features discussed are visible to the naked eye, and all can be seen with a small telescope or binoculars. The Monthly Sky Guide offers a clear and simple introduction to the skies of the northern hemisphere for beginners of all ages.

Sky Guide

Glow-In-The-Dark Constellations : A Field Guide for Young Stargazers

An innovative guide filled with luminous illustrations to aid youngsters in finding more than thirty stars and star groups. An ideal fun introduction to astronomy.


Astronomy for Dummies - Maran

A beginner's guide to astronomy featuring information about the solar system as well as star maps and a monthly guide locating the planets in the sky. If you love the sky but wonder how to make sense of it all, this is your ticket to cosmic knowledge. From asteroids to black holes to red giants to white dwarfs, the guide takes you on a grand tour of the universe with hints on how to get the most out of stargazing.


The Observer's Sky Atlas - E. Karkoschka

This is a handy companion for both beginners and professionals. The atlas contains an introduction to observing the sky and a description of the star charts and tables; clearly arranged charts of all the stars visible to the naked eye; enlarged chart sections for binocular observation, highlighting 250 interesting nebulae, galaxies, and stellar clusters; a catalogue of more than 1,000 objects based upon measurements from the Hipparcos Satellite published in 1997; and tables of predicted separations of binary stars until the year 2015.

Sky Atlas

Collins Pocket Guides: Stars and Planets - Ian Ridpath & Wil Tirion

Another book from the prolific pen of Ian Ridpath. This is an excellent introduction to the stars, planets and constellations, and is a useful reference for beginner and expert alike. Now in its third edition, this guide has been fully revised and updated in the light of recent developments, making it a practical and comprehensive guide to the sky at night. Another 'must have' for the library

Stars & Planets

DK Guide to Space - Peter Bond

An ideal children's book, using all the latest NASA photography to create a guide to the exploration of space, this book attempts to take the reader on a journey through our universe, and includes all the latest theories, observations and discoveries. The photographs are supported by illustrations to explain complex ideas of astronomy, cosmology and space exploration in simple terms.




Welcome New Members!

You can find Astronomy books on the internet, and almost any bookstore! The trick is sorting out whats hot, and whats not. I suggest you talk to a astronomer who has been around the sky alittle while, and then dive into borders books!



The Backyard Astronomer

An amazing book for the amateur, covering everything from types of telescopes, F-stops, aperture vs magnification, eyepieces, accessories, fundamentals of astrophotography, eyepiece sketching, observing basics, tips and techniques, etc...

Although a little outdated as far as equipment goes, this book has nevertheless helped me a immensely. It still remains on of my favorite cloudy night reads.

Available from

The CCD Camera CookBook

I'm NOT paying $1000 to take pictures with my LX50. At least not for the time being... So I've ordered the Cookbook, and I'm very impressed.  Everything is explained, re-explained, and if that's not enough there are several PC programs that walk you through the testing sequences for the interface cards etc... And guess what? One day, when you buy that serious CCD camera, you can turn your CB211 or CB245 into an autoguider for your LX50 or LX200. Not bad eh? I'll be adding a CookBook section to the page as soon as I start putting this baby together...

A final word of warning: DON'T order this from unless you are prepared to wait 4 MONTHS for the thing to arrive!!! Go straight to Willmann-Bell, the publisher, and save yourself some time and money!

Available from Willmann-Bell


Everything you've ever wanted to know about CCDs and image processing but were afraid to ask! I've so far found this a fantastic rescource. I was honestly expecting a tough textbook like text but Berry and Burnell have actually managed to make this a great read. I'm learning great new stuff every time I turn a page. As for the software - MaximDL eat'cher heart out! There's no CCD control as it concentrates on pure image processing and that it does astoundingly well. For about 80 bucks for the book and software its an amazing deal.

Available from Willmann-Bell

Star Testing Astronomical Telescopes

I'm finding this a great book despite the fact that a lot of it goes way over my head. There is a stunning amount of information about optics and optical systems in the book. I'm still wading through it but it has helped me learn a lot about my SCT. Mainly the fact that its quite healthy! :o)

Available from Willmann-Bell

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