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The Backyard Astronomer's Guide [Hardcover]

Terence Dickinson , Alan Dyers
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 1 1994 0921820119 978-0921820116 Revised Edition

An essential reference tool for both beginning and veteran sky observers. Drawing on decades of stargazing experience, the authors suggest 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.

This companion is broken down into three parts: "Equipment for Backyard Astronomy", "Observing the Celestial Panorama" and "Astrophotography". It focuses on the practical aspects of astronomy.

Among many astronomy subjects, the authors offer advice on how to contend with light pollution, and how to take successful and impressive color photographs of galaxies and nebulas (with or without a telescope). Each chapter is written in clear, jargon-free yet detailed.

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Product Description

From Library Journal

Despite the book's title, there is very little about astronomy here, i.e., lists of constellations, star charts, night sky maps, or details about planets, stars, and galaxies. However, there is a wealth of information about the equipment used in astronomy, including prices, consumer-type information, advice on when to use and when not to use binoculars, telescopes, cameras, film, lenses, filters, and other items for the amateur astronomer. Four chapters, though, concern the observation of the solar system and deep space objects. There are also several chapters discussing the photographing of all types of astronomical phenomena. Though cost may deter small-to-medium-sized libraries, there is much information here for the experienced amateur, and some useful information for the beginner as well. (Illustrations and index not seen.)-- Robert Ellis Potter, Dunedin P.L., Fla.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

More than one million of Terence Dickinson's previous books are in print in three languages. His many science awards include the New York Academy of Sciences Book of the Year Award and the Royal Canadian Institute's Sandford Fleming Medal.

Alan Dyer is a magazine associate editor for "Astronomy".

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great work by a prolific author. Feb. 2 2001
Because Dickinson is such a well known writer on the subject of astronomy I ambled to this book with the feeling I was in the midst of a herd of heat-seeking sheep. And because I'm familiar with his work, I felt somewhat delinquent for waiting so long to join the crowd. I'm glad I finally did.
A book like this is not only perfect for the beginning novice who hasn't a clue about astronomy or the tools to engage it, but will also serve to enlighten the veteran observer, either by filling gaps in general knowledge, or by enhancing stale techniques.
There is nothing left out. Both basic and advanced perspectives, and everything in-between, including a comprehensive glossary of terms. Want to know the true definition of an Airy disk in easy to understand language? How about Wave analysis? Is 1/20th wave really that much better than 1/4? Several times I have gone back to this book to clarify an issue, or to answer a question, either for myself or for the benefit of a fellow observer. There are useful things here - for everyone.
It's a big book; an armful with which to unwind in a sofa or with a reading lamp in bed. It finds a place comfortably as a coffee table book, or something for the footstool until you arive - a great companion to that easy chair in the corner - and makes for cozy relaxation in almost any venue. It's a nice book to return to, and one that should maintain a place in the center bookshelves of our homes for decades to come.
There used to be five books on my list of essential reading for the amateur astronomer. Now there are six.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Do not consider buying this book June 23 1999
By A Customer
You should not consider buying this book. You should just buy it. I held off purchasing it since I already knew a fair bit (or so I thought) about amateur astronomy, had already bought a great telescope and a bunch of accessories, and I knew of many other more specialized resources for specific topics (what to look at, astrophotography, physics of the objects we look at, where to find star parties and so on). Plus, published in 1991, it seemed like the book was bound to be outdated soon. However I ended up purchasing it, and reading this thing is a truly eye-opening experience. It is hard to imagine a more well-rounded, well-written, enjoyable and authoritative text on amateur astronomy. It covers many topics but somehow manages to avoid treating them superficially. Sure, if you get deeply into photography or optical design you'll want to get single-topic references. And you still need a star chart! But this book will help you get off and running in all phases of amateur astronomy. If you read this, you'll be transformed immediately from a beginner to one of the people "in the know" in your astronomy club and your enjoyment of the hobby will be heightened greatly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent source for any ameture astronomer Sept. 1 2001
Whether you are just getting into the hobby of astronomy, or a long-time observer, The Backyard Astronomer's Guide is an excellent reference for:
buying telescopes or binoculars
learning the skies
any natural phenomenon, like the green flash
daytime observing
buying accessories for telescopes and binoculars
finding how the different types of telescopes work and what to look for in purchasing one
This book has detailed descriptions on every aspect of astronomy along with spectacular pictures of various Messier objects, daytime phenomenon, the Milky Way, famous nebula, star clusters, galaxies, and everything you could ever wonder about astronomy. I very strongly recommend this book to anyone who is even remotely interested in astronomy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars J Pickens June 9 2000
Dickinson is a delightful and talented astronomer who has a gift of "sharing the wealth" of his experience and excitement for backyard astronomers across the world. This book was my first purchase, based on reviews here and suggestions at star parties. Although (by necessity) telescope reviews and equipment in general will be outdated by the time a book goes to press, his concepts, lessons, and suggestions remain timeless. I have found his advise and approach to astronomy to be full of wisdom; he is a no nonsense author whose primary goal is to be an advocate for the hobby, and if one were to read no other book, this would be the book to read! I would consider this book to be a prerequisite to entering the hobby! Enjoy it as I have.
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By A Customer
I picked this book up and didn't put it down until I had read it from front to back. It covers everything from equipment and star atlases, to techniques for finding objects and photographing them. Every page has wonderful illustrations, all photographed or drawn by backyard astronomers
Rather than spreading itself too thin, "The Backyard Astronomer's Guide" concentrates on backyard astronomy as a hobby, staying away from much of the science behind the objects we view. This is one of the book's best qualities. The science and naturalization of objects in the sky is important, but there are plenty of other books dealing with this subject.
The authors have a lot of experience in backyard astronomy, and it shows.
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I picked up this book to learn about astronomy, because I knew very little at the time. This book is a great resource for those people who know next to nothing and want to learn a lot more about everything. Terence Dickinson's book provide information for all aspects of stargazing. Everything from picking and purchasing the right telescope or binocular and accessories, to introductory nighttime viewing under various conditions, with even some information on more advanced astronomical activities, such as astrophotography, are all covered in an easy to read, informative format. A great read for anyone wanting to break into the hobby, and a great reference for those with unanswered questions. Highly recommended.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars a solid introduction for novices to near advanced
My only small gripe with this book is that it repeats verbatim several chunks of Nightwatch, Dickinson's first book. Read more
Published on Nov. 19 2001 by M. H. Bayliss
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely useful and easy to read
I'm a novice amateur astronomer who bought this book as a reference. When it arrived, I found myself reading every page, cover to cover. Whoa! Read more
Published on June 1 2001 by "smokey_joe"
5.0 out of 5 stars The best money spent on the hobby yet!
I'm actually just starting in on the hobby, but I can tell that this book is going to be a MAJOR asset throughout my learning experience. Read more
Published on May 29 2001 by "ethrane"
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive Equipment and Viewing Guide
This is the best guide to amateur astronomy PERIOD! Objective advice on the purchase of equipment, from basic items like introductory scopes and binoculars to the most obscure... Read more
Published on May 21 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for Beginners
I received this book for Christmas last year, and I love it! I have to agree with the statement from a previous reviewer, though; beginners should read this before purchasing a... Read more
Published on Nov. 10 2000 by Chad Hicks
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource for a lifetime hobby
For those who have always been interested in astronomy, or for those who are new to the subject, this book is for you. Read more
Published on Aug. 7 2000
3.0 out of 5 stars Good information, but dated
I agree with one of the other reviewers, while this text contains some good rules of thumb, the product data is fairly dated even with the update in 1993. Read more
Published on July 7 2000 by "foobar666"
5.0 out of 5 stars Backyard Astronomer's Guide
Very complete and thorough. Excellent resource for the novice and advantage amateur alike. Well worth reading and a great resource as well.
Published on May 15 2000 by Clinton McQueen
3.0 out of 5 stars Nightwatch is better than this dated tome.
Nightwatch, by the same author, is better introductory reading. The Backyard Astronomer's Guide contains more detailed material, but it is very dated. Read more
Published on April 24 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Awsome for beginners and beyond
Not knowing anything about astronomy I found Terence Dickinson's book to be an absolutle wealth of information. Read more
Published on Feb. 7 2000 by Bryan Clark
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