WHAT ARE THE BEST ASTRONOMY BOOKS FOR BEGINNERS?
Updated: Jul 16, 2020
Recommended books for every astro novice
So, you want to be an amateur astronomer? Apart from the obvious tools of the trade like telescopes and a star chart, no amateur astronomy buff is complete without a few astronomy books for reference. There are tens of thousands to choose from, and sifting the chaff from the wheat is difficult. Lucky for us, we have a group with over 15,000 members who have a solid list they recommend. Here are best astronomy books for beginners as recommended by our members
Over the years a few books have risen to the top of the must have list for individuals interested in the night sky. These are our recommendations
BEST ASTRONOMY BOOKS FOR BEGINNERS
TURN LEFT AT ORION BY GUY CONSOLMAGNO
Turn Left at Orion by Guy Consolmagno. This book maybe the most recommended book for beginners. It is a staple to every astronomers tool kit. Left Turn at Orion is key in learning the process for how to actually find whatever it is you're hunting for in the night sky.
ASTRONOMY FOR DUMMIES BY STEPHEN P. MARAN, PHD
Astronomy for Dummies by Stephen P. Maran, PhD is an easy to digest text book that any person wanting to really understand what goes on above our heads can read. It starts off with a discussion of what astronomy is, planets, constellations and named stars then goes into discussions of everything from astronomy clubs to the big bang and the evolution of our universe!
STARGAZING FOR DUMMIES BY STEVE OWENS
Stargazing for Dummies by Steve Owens . Mark Merritt says , “ My first stop for trying most things is the for dummies books, they make the more in-depth ideas easier to understand and is a good beginning before the more serious reading.” This is another great resourse that stars with the basics of the night sky and constellations then gradually works the reader up to learning the sky with a telescope.
NIGHTWATCH BY TERENCE DICKINSON
Nightwatch: A Practical Guide For Viewing The Universe by Terence Dickinson. Scott Dearinger says, “ Night watch has been a favorite for decades. Is updated every few years. Has great info for beginners and simple informative maps perfect for urban use.” Although the book is updated if you find an older version there is still relevant information and a lot to learn.1
THE BACKYARD ASTRONOMERS GUIDE BY TERENCE DICKINSON
The Backyard Astronomers Guide by Terence Dickinson is an essential reference tool where the author suggests what equipment to buy and what to avoid, describe observing techniques, and explain how to hunt down the most interesting celestial objects. Each chapter is illustrated with the latest, breathtaking astrophotography . Jarkko Laukkanen commented, “It's the book for all astro equipment without ad-talk and with experience-based advices. I saved hundreds by avoiding buying wrong accessories which were simply unnecessary.”
50 THINGS TO SEE WITH A SMALL TELESCOPE BY JOHN READ
50 Things to See with a Small Telescope by John Read. Some individuals get their first view of the night sky through a telescope they picked up at a yard sale or a modestly priced smaller telescope so they can test the waters. This book is helpful to maximize your telescopes capabilities. 50 things is a great go-to reference for small telescope owners. It's not bloated with too much advanced or necessary technical content
ASTRONOMY: A SELF-TEACHING GUIDE BY DINAH L. MOCHE
Astronomy: A Self-Teaching Guide , Eighth Edition by Dinah L. Moche. This book is unique as it is a workbook which helps your learning to become interactive. Although it is worth noting that many reviews say that it can become very technical at times and a background with math is helpful. If you've read Astronomy for Dummies, and want something a little more challenging, then Astronomy: A self-teaching guide should be your next read.
SOLAR SYSTEM BY MARCUS CHOWN
Solar System: A Visual Exploration of the Planets, Moons, and Other Heavenly Bodies that Orbit Our Sun by Marcus Chown . A great book for children or if you are a visual learner that yearns for a deeper understanding of our solar system. Each page gives a high level education on a topic aided by full sized, vibrant imagery.
ASTRONOMY HACKS BY ROBERT BRUCE
Astronomy Hacks: Tips and Tools for Observing the Night Sky by Robert Bruce Thompson and Barbara Fritchman Thompson. This book is full of hacks, tips, tools and advice that are both useful and fun. Some of the useful tips for the reader include dark-adapting your notebook computer, picking binoculars, star hopping, and even how to do basic astrophotography
DISCOVER THE STARS BY RICHARD BERRY
Discover the Stars: Starwatching Using the Naked Eye, Binoculars, or a Telescope by Richard Berry. This book covers the full spectrum of enjoying the night sky. Full of sky maps that are useful year round, this book helps the reader choose a telescope, and then use it to see the night sky and discover what lies in each constellation.
SPACE EXPLORATION BOOKS
Finally, no recommendation list would be complete without a few inspirational recommendations from those that have visited the night sky or have helped to make that possible.
ENDURANCE: A YEAR IN SPACE, A LIFETIME OF DISCOVERY BY SCOTT KELLY
Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly is a told as it happened, no filter account of astronaut Scott Kelly's landmark year aboard the International Space Station. His book reads like a memoir and Kelly often recollects memories from his time on Earth before the one year mission.
ROCKET MEN BY ROBERT KURSON
Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon by Robert Kurson tells the story of the three men who first visited the moon aboard the Apollo 8 space craft. It wouldn't be until Apollo 11 that man first stepped foot on the moon, but the preceding three missions were vital to the lunar landing success. None more important than Apollo 8 where NASA tested the Saturn V with a crew on board for the first time.
HIDDEN FIGURES BY MARGOT LEE SHETTERLY
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly. This book lifts the story of so many women behind some of the most defining moments in the 20th century into the spotlight for the first time.
RISE OF THE ROCKET GIRLS BY NATHALIA HOLD
Rise of the Rocket Girls by Nathalia Holt is Hidden Figures squared! NASAs JPL employed a group of women human computers to lay the foundation of space travel.
BOOKS ABOUT SPACE FOR KIDS
If you're on the hunt for books about space for kids, then you may want to consider the following recommendations.
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC’S LITTLE KIDS FIRST BIG BOOK OF SPACE
National Geographic’s Little Kids First Big Book of Space. This beautiful book is the latest addition to the National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book series. These colorful pages will introduce young children to the wonders of space, with colorful illustrations by David Aguilar and simple text that is perfect for beginning readers or for reading aloud. The book will explain basic concepts of space, beginning with what is most familiar to kids and expanding out into the universe.
MARGARET AND THE MOON BY DEAN ROBBINS
Margaret and the Moon by Dean Robbins, Illustrated by Lucy Kinsley. Margaret and the Moon is an illustrated biography of Margaret Hamilton, who led the NASA team from MIT that developed onboard flight software for the first moon landing.
THE DARKEST DARK BY CHRIS HADFIELD
The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield. Inspired by the childhood of real-life astronaut Chris Hadfield and brought to life by Terry and Eric Fan's lush, evocative illustrations, The Darkest Dark will encourage readers to dream the impossible.
FIND THE CONSTELLATIONS BY H.A. REY
Find the Constellations by H.A. Rey. Master Astronomer, Jean Napp , said "Written for children by the author of Curious George, but the stories and drawings of the night sky are the best! Towards the end of the book is a page of first stars to come out each night. This is how I figured out the night sky long before I had a cell phone app!"
Adding a few of these books to your toolkit will help keep you busy on cloudy nights will answer many of your questions and provide an excellent foundation while you continue to grow in a hobby rich with history and discovery.
If you have other recommendations, leave them in the comments below! Clear skies to you!