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"If you were to own only one book on amateur astronomy, this is it.”

— Sky & Telescope magazine

Selected pages from the print book

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Co-authored with Terence Dickinson, our classic print book describes ...

• All you need to know to get into the hobby of backyard astronomy, including a thorough survey of telescopes and other gear for aspiring stargazers.

• How to find your way around the sky, and what to expect to see when you look at the Moon, Sun, planets and deep-sky objects.

• How to photograph the sky, from simple techniques to guided, long-exposure images through telescopes.

First published in 1992, The Backyard Astronomer's Guide has been frequently revised and reprinted to keep it up to date.

The lavish 390-page Third Edition contains ...

Chapter 1: Amateur Astronomy Comes of Age

We open with a look at how the hobby has grown over the years and decades.

Chapter 2: Binoculars for Stargazing

Binoculars are the essential tool for anyone starting out and experienced observers. We describe what to look for an recommend models to buy.

Chapter 3: Choosing a Telescope

In this large and popular chapter we cover the basics of telescopes and mounts. We also survey our favourite and recommended telescopes in all price ranges from starter to dream scope.

This chapter is extensively updated to cover new brands and models of scopes. For many readers this is the heart of the book.

Chapter 4: Eyepieces

We describe eyepieces in detail, including new wide-field designs, and provide brand-specific recommendations of our favourites, in all price ranges from budget to premium class.

Again, we revised this chapter to cover new models we tested in the last few years.

Chapter 5: Accessories

We survey the complex array of accessories available to amateur astronomers, sorting out the essential from the superfluous. We cover everything from flashlights to domes.

This is another greatly revamped chapter.

Chapter 6: Using a Telescope

Years of experience teaching telescope courses has taught us what puzzles people most about their new scopes.

Chapter 6 provides a “missing manual,” with step-by-step instructions on setting up typical entry-level telescopes.

Chapter 7: Naked-Eye Astronomy

There’s lots to see in the sky even without fancy gear. We cover atmospheric phenomena and other naked-eye sky sights such as auroras and satellites.

We include information on upcoming events such as conjunctions and eclipses.

Chapter 8: Your Observing Site

We cover telescope observing techniques for the solar system here and in Chapter 10, including updated information about solar filters and recent comets.

Here and throughout the book, almost every image has been replaced and updated.

Chapter 9: Sun, Moon and Comets

We cover telescope observing techniques for the Sun and Moon here, including updated information about solar filters and recent comets.

Chapter 10: Observing the Planets

All about what you can see on the planets through backyard telescopes, including the use of filters to enhance the view.

Chapter 11: Finding Your Way Around the Sky

A big part of learning the sky is getting to know how it moves and why things appear where they do in the sky at different times of the night and through the year.

Chapter 11 provides an “Astro 101” primer on celestial motions as well as a survey of star charts, finder aids, and instructions on how to “star hop” to celestial targets.

Chapter 12: Deep-Sky Observing

We devote a large chapter to the techniques and the subjects of deep-sky observing, sorting out the menagerie of objects, from stars to galaxy clusters and the jargon surrounding deep-sky catalogs. We even include some historical vignettes.

For this edition, we inserted a newly-revised section on the “great southern sky,” extolling the wonders of the southern hemisphere.

Chapter 13: Digital Astrophotography

We completely redid this topic from the ground up in recent editions. Digital SLR cameras have revolutionized astro-imaging and this chapter covers how to select and use DSLRs, including deep-sky guiding techniques. We include lots of specific equipment recommendations.

We concentrate on DSLRs because that’s what we use — most of the book's images are ones we took with DSLRs.

A section of Chapter 13 covers, in tutorial format, how to process DSLR images, from RAW to finished photo, using a “workflow” based on Adobe Photoshop. We cover RAW conversion, stacking, noise reduction, and the use of adjustment layers to enhance contrast and colour.

Chapter 14: High-Tech Astronomy

A greatly revised chapter covers tips and techniques for getting a computerized Go To scope “going to” where it is supposed to, with tips for Meade, Celestron, Vixen, and Sky-Watcher systems.

We cover software programs and how to get your laptop or mobile device talking to your “smart scope.”

Chapter 15: Alignment, Collimation and Cleaning

Previously available only through downloadable files, the much-requested information about polar alignment, collimation, cleaning and star-testing of telescope optics is now in the print edition of the book.

No subjects perplex backyard astronomers more than these, and this chapter provides thorough tutorials for keeping your scope working right.

Revised 2010, Reprinted 2012

ISBN 978-1-55407-344-3

Available at most retail and on-line book sellers. 

Praise from the reviewers:


“Guide books for amateur astronomers abound, but none is more up to date than the heavily illustrated third edition of Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer’s The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide. It’s an indispensable aid for amateurs wading into the ocean of modern telescopes, eyepieces and accessories. And the section on astrophotography with digital cameras is among the finest we’ve seen...If you were to own only one book on amateur astronomy, this is it.”


“This lavishly illustrated hardback is a comprehensive guide to practical astronomy, covering every conceivable facet of the hobby. Its 368 pages range from what there is to see in the sky, both night and day, to advanced techniques like astrophotography and collimation...We recommend it to absolutely everyone.”


“...The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide is an excellent guide to practical amateur astronomy. Any aspiring astronomer would benefit strongly by reading this beautiful book. The authors have laid out technical details and tips that will save a neophyte telescope user many hours of frustration...In short, I highly recommend this thoughtful and thorough exposition of the practical aspects of our hobby.”

Praise from the readers:

"Exceptionally well done and illustrated."

"I read it cover to cover in about 2 days and go back to it quite often. I would give it 10 out of 10 if I could."

"What a good read! and best of all, this makes a GREAT coffee table book. I get all kinds of, "Wow! Cool book!"

"This book is great for someone just starting or interested in astronomy. Easy to read and it provides the basic knowledge needed to get you going."

"This book will serve as a reference guide ... You won't be disappointed in this purchase."

"Excellent book to get started on astronomy. Provides in depth reviews of the equipment and techniques we need to learn if we want to enjoy the hobby."

"I wish I had seen this book a long time ago. It would have saved me a lot of trouble."

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