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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
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Astronomy can be an intimidating subject for the beginner. This book makes it all clear and covers all the important subjects for the beginning astronomer. Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a solid introduction for novices to near advanced Nov. 20 2001
My only small gripe with this book is that it repeats verbatim several chunks of Nightwatch, Dickinson's first book. Overall, this book provides more depth to subjects like buying telescopes, lenses, and more detailed descriptions of what you can see. I didn't find the format as visually pleasing as the spiral bound Nightwatch. Still, the pictures are great, the information written in the same clear style as Nightwatch -- there's something here for everyone. Beginners have a lot to learn, but even the advanced sky enthusiasts will pick up new and useful information. A good overview.
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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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4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely useful and easy to read June 1 2001
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! Turns out to be much more than a reference after all. The authors aren't afraid to go out on a limb and <gasp> give their opinions, not just the facts. They cover every topic a novice would need, and do it in such a way as to make the reading extremely interesting. I can honestly say that this book has heightened my excitement about getting into amateur astronomy and I now feel well prepared to do so.
Even if you aren't a "serious" hobbyist, buy this book if you buy nothing else on the subject.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best money spent on the hobby yet! May 29 2001
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. As soon as I bought it, I came home and could not put it down at all, I was so drawn in to the amount of great info in it. I'm very grateful that I picked this up before I got any binoculars or a telescope. The chapter on buying equipment is worth the cost of the book alone! Two words: Buy It!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive Equipment and Viewing Guide May 21 2001
By A Customer
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 specialty equipment available. This book will grow with you as you advance in the hobby. It also covers some aspects of viewing, but that is not the book's focus. If you want a sky guide, look elsewhere; if you want a detailed equipment and user guide, this is it.
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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 Great for Beginners Nov. 11 2000
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 telescope! True, some of the info is dated, but the descriptions of the telescope designs (their pros and cons, specifically) will help you to choose the instrument that will best suit your needs. Additionally, the book is easy to read, and not full of reams of undecipherable "techno-babble". I highly recommend that you buy this book if you are interested in amateur astronomy!
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