Books for Astronomy - Recommendations
Regardless of your skill level, you need a few books to help your astronomy observing. Start with a book that describes what you will find and how to find it. Later you'll want a detailed star atlas and a catalogue that describes lesser-known objects.
For Newcomers and Beginners
Beginners need something that teaches basics as well as describes objects and how to find them. Few would argue the best book for new astronomers is Turn Left at Orion. It's loaded with info for observing the Moon, planets and nice list of deep sky objects for a small to medium size telecope. This is a terrific place to start.
Next, get a star atlas that fits your current skill level but can be used even as you become a more advanced observer. The standard atlas that nearly every observer brings with them is the Pocket Sky Atlas. It's just the right size for use next to your telescope and with enough detail to find a long list of objects.
A fantastic book to help you find your way in the Northern hemisphere. This book is great for a new observer needing a list of interesting objects to find. This is a very popular choice for good reasons.
Besides a worthy list of objects, this book also contains great explanations of astronomical contexts: the how and why of what we see.
Another terrific book listing objects to view. Intended for a relatively new observer.
This is a book of objects that can be found with binoculars. It includes colorful double stars and asterisms as well as a quite a few deep sky objects.
A beautiful colorful guide into the astronomy hobby. Lots and lots of valuable information on equipment and observing techniques. Astronomy concepts are described clearly and in good detail. This is the encyclopedia for amateur astronomers!
Your star atlas is your roadmap to the night sky. See the article about choosing a star atlas or select one or both of the following excellent choices.
Everyone's favorite atlas because of the convenient size and detail. It has the stars that match what you will see naked eye at dark sky location.
Large format atlas that is an advanced companion to the PSA. This contains far more stars than the Pocket Sky Atlas but in a large format. You'll need to set it up on a table nearby. Also consider the Sky Atlas 2000.0 Companion. It's the detailed index for this atlas.
For the Intermediate Observer
This book is a good companion for AstronomyLog.com. It list some of the targets that you would want when working the various AL, RASC and SAC lists. It is not as complete as AstronomyLog.com but has photos and finder charts in a useful format.
This set is an encyclopedia of objects, describing what you can expect to see with various types of instruments. A very exhaustive collection that is compiled in an ideal arrangement, and is laid out in logical and sensible format. There are three volumes: two for northern hemisphere observers (Vol. 1, Vol. 2) and one for the southern skys (Vol. 3).
This series by Stephen J. O'Meara is a wonderful guide for small scope users. He teaches how to observe that gives lessons for even the experienced observer. The series includes volumes for Messier Objects, Caldwell Objects, Hidden Treasures and the new Secret Deep.
Another noteworthy book by Stephen J. O'Meara is this book on working the Herschel 400 list. It gives a well-laid out plan to tackle this project.
By Sue French, a writer at Sky & Telescope magazine, she describes a nice collection of objects that can be observed with a small telescope.
An exhaustive list of double stars.
This is the go-to book for Lunar observers.
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