With the plethora of astronomy books on the market, we’ve compiled a list of the ones we like to use for reference, and at the eyepiece. There’s also a few beginner’s books suggested as well. This is a work in progress, so we’ll be adding to it as time goes on.
Nightwatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe by Terence Dickinson
An excellent start to astronomy written in an easy to digest style.
Astronomy Manual: The Practical Guide to the Night Sky by Jane A. Green
A very comprehensive primer on the solar system, our galaxy and the cosmos, together with a practical introduction to the night sky, observing, binoculars and telescopes.
Turn Left At Orion by Dan Davis & Guy Consolmagno
The defacto guide, now in its 4th edition, for beginners wanting to locate objects in the deep sky. The more popular Messier objects are described, along with the more interesting double and triple stars. Simple finder charts are included and biographical detail for the objects.
The Cambridge Star Atlas by Wil Tirion
A comprehensive star atlas, showing the positioms of variable stars, clusters, galaxies and nebulae in a field-friendly spiral bound format with night-friendly printing. A must for the observer who has moved beyond beginner’s objects.
Deep Sky Reference
Deep-Sky Illustrated Observing Guide by Michael Vlasov
A free download printable field guide and observing list of deep-sky objects, providing basic information on about 7000 objects (up to magnitude 14) and a list of hand picked 700 DSOs complete with negative thumbnail images.
Deep Sky Observer’s Guide by Neil Bone
An excellent first step for the beginning deep sky observer with over 200 objects listed to observe. The observations were made with an 80mm refractor so the targets are very realistic to find and see; finder charts are included.
Deep Sky Observing – The Astronomical Tourist by Steve Coe
A variety of deep sky objects organised by object type, with accompanying sketches made with varying apertures. There’s additional information on deep sky equipment and star atlases. The big lack is an index of objects, but it has the greatest pearl of wisdom for any astronomer – “never look through a telescope you can’t afford”!
Atlas of the Messier Objects by Ronald Stoyan
An essential reference to the Messier catalogue which has become the definitive work.
Deep-Sky Companions: The Messier Objects by Steve O’Meara
The first in the Deep Sky Companions series gives a practical slant on observing the catalogue. Comprehensive descriptions and a little history of each object is included
Deep-Sky Companions: The Caldwell Objects by Steve O’Meara
An observing guide to Patrick Moore’s list of Deep Sky Objects designed to be the next stage on from the Messier Catalogue. As before, biographical data and observing notes on each object, accompanied by O’Meara’s sketches.
Deep-Sky Companions: Hidden Treasures by Steve O’Meara
The weightiest of the Deep Sky Companions series gives another 109 objects described and illustrated in O’Meara’s distinctive style. The hidden treasure analogy may not work for all, but it is another excellent source of deep sky targets.
Deep-Sky Companions: The Secret Deep by Steve O’Meara
A further 109 objects for your deep sky viewing pleasure.
Cosmic Challenge: The Ultimate Observing List for Amateurs by Phil Harrington
Aimed at the rather more advanced observer (or one with excellent dark, steady and transparent skies) this volume presents not only deep sky, but also lunar and solar system objects in a challenge format with suggested aperture of telescope. The Horsehead Nebula in an 80mm refractor? Or the Eye of Mars? Even if some challenges can’t be done under our skies this is a fascinating and informative book that kept three of us entertained whilst on a week long observing trip last January.
The Complete Guide to the Herschel Objects
This books provides some excellent background reading upon Herschel and provides a reference to 2,500 Herschel objects. Following the introductory chapters describing Herschel and the making of his telescopes, his surveys and the creation of the catalogue, each constellation has its own chapter with the objects in NGC number order. There is a paragraph or so of observational detail and some astrophysical data for each object, plus photographs and illustrations for the more popular. An invaluable reference for the deep sky observer.