The Backyard Astronomer's Guide
The Backyard Astronomer's Guide
The Backyard Astronomer's Guide The Backyard Astronomer's Guide The Backyard Astronomer's Guide The Backyard Astronomer's Guide

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Publisher: Firefly Books

Edition Notes: Third edition, revised and expanded
Author Statement: by Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer
Audience: Trade
Specs: more than 500 full-color photographs, appendixes, maps, charts, bibliography, index
Pages: 368
Trim Size: 9" x 11" X 1 4/16"
Language code 1: eng
Publication Date: 20080912
Copyright Year: 2010
Price: Select Below


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The Backyard Astronomer's Guide

An expanded and updated third edition of a basic reference for amateur astrophotographers including equipment recommendations, photographic techniques, digital photography, computerized telescopes and information on observing.

The modern classic, completely updated.

The newest edition of The Backyard Astronomer's Guide includes the latest data and answers the questions most often asked by home astronomers, from beginners to experienced stargazers. Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer provide expert guidance on the right types of telescopes and other equipment; photographing the stars through a telescope; and star charts, software and other references. They cover daytime and twilight observing, planetary and deep-sky observing, and much more.

With over 500 color photographs and illustrations, The Backyard Astronomer's Guide is one of the most valuable, beautiful and user-friendly astronomy books ever produced.

New and updated for this edition:

  • A 20-page full-color Atlas of the Milky Way provides location and context for hundreds of celestial objects mentioned throughout the book.
  • A chapter on Astrophotography with Digital Cameras specifies what equipment works best and how to use it to collect a color gallery of celestial portraits.
  • Telescopes for Recreational Astronomy features assessments of a wide range of new telescopes, from models for beginners to those for veteran astronomy enthusiasts, with special emphasis on computerized telescopes and how they work.
  • Accessory Catalog spotlights the best of the accessories and flags the frivolous and irrelevant.
  • Three practical appendices: Polar Aligning Your Telescope; Optics Cleaning and Collimation; Testing Your Telescope Optics.

Any serious home astronomer must have this superb guide as an ongoing reference.


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.


Since the publication of the first edition of The Backyard Astronomer's Guide in 1991, amateur astronomy has evolved in several important areas. This prompted a major rewrite and redesign for the Second Edition in 2002. Even more rapid developments since then bring us to this Third Edition and another major overhaul, which now expands the book substantially beyond its original 295 pages.
As always, new developments in equipment are behind most of the revisions led by affordable computerized telescopes and the entry of China as a major player in telescope manufacture. More unexpected was the speed of the digital-camera revolution, which opened a new wonderland of astrophotographic opportunities undreamed of in the days of film. That, combined with a wider array of telescopes and accessories at better prices than ever before, meant that every chapter required revisions, ranging up to a complete rewrite of the astrophotography section, Chapter 13.
In response to readers' requests for how-to reference guides to fundamental telescope setup, use and maintenance procedures, we've added two new chapters (14 and 15). More than 200 new photos and illustrations accompany these changes, both major and minor, in every chapter. (Prices given are average U.S. dollar dealer prices.)
To keep the text uncluttered and readable, we have avoided embedding a lot of website addresses throughout. To locate the websites for companies and products described, simply Google the names. Finally, at the back of the book, we've added a beautiful and practical Milky Way atlas, created by Glenn LeDrew.
In almost all cases, we have used photographs of equipment that were taken in the field and in our own studios rather than relying on stock shots from manufacturers. (We've really used this equipment!)
In many respects, this book is a sequel to coauthor Dickinson's NightWatch: A Guide to Viewing the Universe, which emphasizes reference material for the absolute beginner. In The Backyard Astronomer's Guide, we provide more in-depth commentary, guidance and resources for the enthusiast.
We invite readers to visit the book's website (see below), where updates and links to other informative sites can be found.

Terence Dickinson
NightWatch Observatory
Alan Dyer
Telus World of Science-Calgary

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