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The Backyard Astronomer's Guide Hardcover – Sep 12 2008

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The Backyard Astronomer's Guide + NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe + Sky & Telescope's Pocket Sky Atlas
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Firefly Books; Third edition, revised and expanded edition (Sept. 12 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1554073448
  • ISBN-13: 978-1554073443
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 3.2 x 27.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #10,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


[Review of earlier edition:] I highly recommend this volume for most amateur astronomers and all libraries. I wish I had read it before I purchased my first telescope. (John O. Christensen Science Books and Films 2003-10-15)

[Review of earlier edition:] More than any other guide to backyard observing, this excellent book focuses on equipment. (Astronomy 2004-11-00)

[Review of earlier edition:] Excellent introductory text ... completely revised... it is lushly illustrated in color throughout. (Ursula Ellis E-Streams, Vol. 6, No. 4)

[Review of earlier edition:] If an amateur astronomer could afford one book, this would be the one to get ... one of the most attractive practical astronomy works ever produced. (Russ Francis Monday Magazine)

[Review of earlier edition:] Lively, accessible style; is comprehensive; and is lavishly illustrated with hundreds of photographs, diagrams, and charts... highly recommended for any library. (Mark Wilson American Reference Books Annual, Volume 35 2004-01-00)

[Review of earlier edition:] Few books capture the spirit of the hobby so well -- the pleasures and the pitfalls of the equipment you might need, and the simple joy of watching the universe go by. (American Scientist 2003-01-00)

[Review of earlier edition:] This all-encompassing reference provides practical advice. (Science News 2003-01-04)

[Review of earlier edition:] Recommended for all libraries and for experienced or inexperienced amateur astronomers. (A.R. Upgren Choice 2003-04-00)

[Review of earlier edition:] Big colorful user-friendly book ... I recommend this book for anyone who is contemplating buying a telescope, has one but does not quite know how to use it, or wants to learn more about accessories and fun activities to supplement his or her stargazing. If you teach observational astronomy, run a public observatory, or conduct community stargazing classes, put this magazine down and order it right now ... This book is your passport to the stars. (David Aguilar Sky and Telescope 2003-08-00)

[Review of earlier edition:] This book is an indispensable tool for any serious naturalist who wants to understand and experience the full expanse of the world and universe around us. (Pierre R. Gauthier Canadian Camera 2003-06-00)

[Review of earlier edition:] Its nontechnical language makes astronomy an avocation accessible to everyone. (Library Journal 2003-05-01)

[Review of earlier edition:] Crammed with practical information that should help you become a better observer, and have fun doing it. (Craig Tupper Astronomy 2003-05-00)

[Review of earlier edition:] Besides its practical benefits, this book is a real treat for the eyes. It's loaded with colorful photographs, graphics and information boxes. (John McPhee Halifax Chronicle-Herald 2003-02-01)

With over 500 color photographs and illustrations, this book is a valuable, beautiful and user-friendly astronomy reference. (Lunar and Planetary Information Bulletin 2008-12-00)

A magnificently illustrated and superb guide to astronomy is contained in the newest edition of The Backyard Astronomer's Guide.... Overall, this title is a beautiful and informative resource for the amateur astronomer, both the beginner and the experienced. (Denise A. Garofalo American Reference Book Annual)

I fondly remember haunting my favorite bookstore as a college student in the early 1990s, ogling the big, full-color astronomy texts, when I happened upon The Backyard Astronomer's Guide. It wasn't as flashy as the other books, but I was quickly taken by its practical information, covering all the subjects I was interested in as a fledgling amateur. Now in its third edition, Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer have completely rewritten large sections to keep in lockstep with the evolving trends. Like an old friend who has grown wiser over time, this compendium has become better with age. It's good-looking too--though chock-full of useful information, none of the full-color layouts appear cramped or confused. Immediately from the first chapter the authors' fluid writing style draws you in, casually introducing you to the pursuit of the night sky. As in previous editions, the flow comfortably builds with each page, easing you into progressively challenging subjects without missing a step. The text builds though each successive chapter, describing today's plethora of binoculars, telescopes, mounts, eyepieces, and other accessories. We then move on to delve deeply into everything of interest in the sky, from the planets to deep-sky objects. The detailed yet accessible explanation of celestial mechanics should be required reading for everyone. The third part introduces digital astrophotography. Yes, digital--it starts out by stating that film is dead. This new section covers everything you need to get started taking pictures, including some useful parts of Adobe Photoshop. The Backyard Astronomer's Guide closes with a set of beautifully rendered charts of the Milky Way by Glenn LeDrew. Opposing pages display a color version and a labeled, black-on-white version plotted to magnitude 9. Dickinson and Dyer have brought their excellent guide further into the 21st century. I can't recommend it highly enough. (Sean Walker Sky and Telescope 2009-04-01)

Dickinson and Dyer provide considerable information that amateur astronomers will appreciate... Complementing the informative text are hundreds of colour photographs and illustrations as well as a 20-page, full-colour atlas of the Milky Way that includes 10 charts. This revised and expanded third edition will be of interest to serious amateur astronomers. (Glenn Perrett 2010-10-02)

The Backyard Astronomer's Guide continues to impress, offering a little something for everyone. If you have never seen this book before, now is the time to add it to your collection. It is one book you will never tire of opening, always finding something of interest in the world of astronomy. (Shelf Life 2011-04-00)

About the Author

Terence Dickinson is the author of Night Watch and 13 other astronomy books, among them The Universe and Beyond, Summer Stargazing and Exploring the Night Sky. He is also editor of SkyNews.

Alan Dyer is program producer at the Calgary Science Centre Planetarium and a contributing editor to Sky and Telescope magazine. An authority on commercial telescopes, his reviews of astronomical equipment appear regularly in major astronomy magazines.

Inside This Book

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jamieren on Nov. 23 2008
Format: Hardcover
For good reason, I purchased this after reading "Nightwatch" by the same author, which I would highly recommend as a first book. After getting a primer from the above mentioned book, I was thirsty for more depth. Through reading this book I've been granted a greater understanding of the workings of our solar system, a solid foundation from which to choose eyepieces (if you're familiar with the potential costs on these items, that alone is worth the cover price!), and a launching pad towards other books & materials in accordance with the opinions of the authors. I own the latest revision (2008?) and can say it looks completely up to date in terms of products & information covered. This book has more information than I'll probably ever need but it's been a blast reading it through. It takes the framework established in Nightwatch and expands on it several times over. I especially liked small touches such as the infrequent blurbs about Charles Messier or the 'Leviathan of Parsonstown' -little snippets of astronomy history any enthusiast would find enthralling. The photographs and illustrations are top-notch, nicely complementing the text. I will concede that much of the info offered by the book is readily available on the internet, but it is all neatly organized and conveniently waiting for you at the flip of a fingertip here.

In summary, I would not recommend you consider this an introduction to astronomy, but would rather suggest 'Nightwatch' as better reading for the beginner. Those who are ready to make a serious investment (of time &/or money) into the hobby of astronomy need look no further for an exhaustive reference on the subject.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael Olden on July 24 2010
Format: Hardcover
I got this book from the library, read a lot of it, like half, and got excited that I bought it on amazon. Now I have my own. it covers everything,from what you can see with your two eyes and what you can see with binculars and different types of telescopes. Some history and where we are going with the hobby,.Most important is advice, the dos and donts, this will save you thousands of dollars, and most important, what you can expect to see from a dark site or the city .It also covers a bit of astro photography,which is important to you in real life cameras,and lots more info you may need
Yes ,the people that put this book together, were great at explaining how it all works, it is a masterpiece an should be in your home library, and you may use it a lot and the links it recommends
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By Franck on March 7 2012
Format: Hardcover
I think to begin in astronomy the first step to do is get this book ... Well written, nice layout, great pictures. An essential...The best book on amateur astronomy that I read... all there. It's really a reference, only downside, no French translation available ... But written with a highly technical vocabulary, so readable even for an idiot like me.

Le meilleur livre sur L'astronomie amateur que j'ai lue...tout y est. C'est vraiment une référence seul bémol, aucune traduction française de disponible...Mais écrit avec un vocabulaire très technique donc déchiffrable même pour un poche en anglais comme moi.
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By Jim Schaefer on June 5 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Backyard Astronomers guide is an excellent book on all aspects of Astronomy . From selecting a telescope, eyepieces, & filters to advanced Astronomy and deep sky observing. A must have book for beginners and veterns alike. From choosing equipment to observing to advanced tips and techniques,Astrophotography and care and mantainence of your telescope and equipment.Terrence Dickinson & Alan Dyer do a master job of covering all aspects and questions in this , wonderful world of Astronomy. Highly reccomended! 5 stars all around!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of the best books for budding amateur astronomers or even seasoned vets. Terrance Dickinson covers everything you can possibly want from starting out, to astrophotography, and gets it right. A must read that you won't want to put down and one you will reference for a long time.
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By Benny Gardner on May 10 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr Dickinson has compiled a reference for anyone wanting to get into this hobby.He covers all aspects in being an amateur astronomer in an easy to read book that will definitely satisfy all.
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By Flying High on Oct. 20 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is an absolute must for every beginner in Astronomy. Dickinson's book is the standard for beginning astronomers, and is well worth the price.
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