Best Astronomy Books for Beginners

I've read a heap of astronomy books, below I recommend the top 5 books that every beginner needs to buy.


Collins Gem - Stars

£3.49 from Amazon

This tiny book fits perfectly in your pocket and is a brilliant reference to the night sky for when you are out stargazing.

This book features individual charts for all 88 constellations, a star atlas of the entire sky and details of the brightest stars and objects of interest which can be seen with the naked eye, binoculars and small telescopes.

This guide is of immense depth and a very good value. A beginner will benefit from the 22 pages long Introduction explaining all the main astronomy terms. 18 detailed maps of the sky for both Northern and Southern latitudes are very helpful, too.

Articles on every constellation give essential information for both beginners and advanced astronomers. The articles are accompanied by very detailed maps showing all the neighbours of a certain constellation (so that you can easily find it in the sky) and also mentioning the interesting features you can see in your binoculars or telescope.

Plus there are many more helpful sections (e.g. a table of annual meteor showers) and a few beautiful photographs of galaxies and nebulae. The pocket size of the book (just 8x12 cm) makes it very light and easy to carry - a perfect reference book!

Astronomy For Dummies

£8.99 from Amazon

Features charts, star maps, and full–color photos! Ever wonder what′s out there? This is the book for you! Do you know the difference between a red giant and a white dwarf? From asteroids to black holes, this easy–to–understand guide takes you on a grand tour of the universe, showing you how to get the most out of stargazing, planetarium visits, and other cool astronomical activities. It also covers recent discoveries and new astronomy Web sites. Discover how to Enjoy skywatching in your backyard Identify planets and stars Explore our solar system, the Milky Way, and beyond Understand the Big Bang, quasars, antimatter, and more.

The Practical Astronomer

£9.79 from Amazon

Understand and enjoy the solar system and beyond with this practical guide to astronomy.

Pick up all the basics of sky-watching. Start off by taking a tour around the night sky in simple stages, discovering how it fits together and how it works. Then take a closer look at the objects you can see and learn to train your eye to recognize basic patterns of constellations and how to tell planets apart from other celestial bodies. Plus, there's advice on buying and using kit, from binoculars to telescopes.

Packed with detailed maps of the night sky and star charts to help any budding astronomer in their quest to find out more about this fascinating subject.

I borrowed this book from my local library - amazingly, they acquired it 3 days after it was published. This is, without doubt, one of the most beautifully illustrated astronomy books I have ever read. It covers a wide range of topics for newcomers to astronomy, as well as 88 pages of guides to constellations - all accompanied with photographs of prominent stars and maps to guide you. Basic concepts of astronomy are explained in terms that make sense, and there is also extensive discussion of the cosmos and space physics - but the key is in the simplicity and straightforward approach of the book. On top of this, there are also guides to using the naked eye, binoculars, telescopes (purchasing and setting up) and astrophotography.

I have only just begun looking up at the night sky, having just purchased a telescope for my father's birthday back in April. I have to say that this is one of the most helpful books I have read on the subject - so much so that I intend to purchase a copy, because I don't want to be without it. Advanced astronomers might skip this book, simply because they have the information elsewhere (though the photographs in this book are oustanding, as is often the case with DK books), but for beginners it's a superb purchase.

Patrick Moore's Astronomy: Teach Yourself

£6.37 from Amazon

Patrick Moore's Astronomy will ensure you recognize what you are seeing in the night sky. You will investigate the sun, moon, planets comets and stars and learn how to observe them. This comprehensive guide, complete with star charts, will map out the skies and allow you to impress your friends with your knowledge of the sky at night.

So you don't know what syzygy is, or what a nebula consists of, or where to find faculae, or maybe you have an interest in retrograde motion or planetary escape velocities. Before reading this book it sounded a bit too star trek for me and I used to hide from complex astronomical terms. But with the guidance that sir Patrick Moore provides in this fantastic manual it all becomes a bit more manageable. I don't purport to be well versed in the mysteries of the universe but now I have a rough idea where to point my telescope when looking for the various wonders in the sky. This book also promotes a more realistic expectation as to what we can hope to find with a scope costing a couple of hundred quid. I think most people imagine seeing the depths of the galaxy with a scope more suited to birdwatching and hence become disheartened and give up. But enough of my opinions what about the book?

Depending on your time constraints you can take the one or five minute introduction, which is a novel idea although I read the five minute intro in three minutes but lets not confuse things shall we !! Each chapter begins by optimistically telling you what you will learn, contained throughout are little "insight" boxes which are a fantastic source of interesting facts, you know the type of stuff to impress your friends with, even if you know little else! And helpfully provided at the end of each chapter is a bullet point revision page.

We get an adequate introduction to astronomy and the spinning sky followed by a brief history of skywatching. I enjoyed the chapter on telescopes which made me look at my own scope in a whole new light ..... mainly negative! Next we delve into space and have informative chapters on the sun, moon, planets and stars. I found the chapter on constellations tough going mainly due to the terminology and thought at one stage I had picked up "beginners Greek" but it is worth persevering with and becomes a little more understandable as you progress. Various star types are discussed as are nebulae and the life of stars and the book ends with a very thought provoking chapter on life beyond Earth.

The Night Sky Month by Month

£7.80 from Amazon

An invaluable, user-friendly guide to discovering and navigating the night sky every month.

The Night Sky Month by Month offers charts for observing stars and constellations in both the northern and southern hemispheres at any time of the year. Positions of stars and planet locations for each month are included, plus get tips on what equipment to use and how.

Packed with specially-commissioned artworks and photography with illustrated overviews introducing each month with a guide to the main attractions, such as bright stars and prominent constellations, this will inspire both beginners to star-gazing as well as amateur astronomers.

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