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Best Astronomy Books

Updated on January 28, 2014

Great Astronomy Books For Beginners And Advanced

Find the best astronomy books that help you learn about exploring the universe, other planets and the world beyond our own. There has been an increase in people getting interested in astronomy and the stars, and with good reason. With the technological advances of today our astronauts can visit rising stars, planets and constellations. And the rest of us can watch almost live all the wonderful discoveries they are making in far away locations.

While some people are beginning now their journey into the world of astronomy, others are looking for the best advanced astronomy books that can help them go beyond the basics.

Image credit: Universe: The Definitive Visual Guide

Here are some great astronomy books I found on learning about the universe, the solar systems and the planets around us.

Astronomy Books For Beginners

Turn Left at Orion
Turn Left at Orion

Turn Left at Orion: A Hundred Night Sky Objects to See in a Small Telescope - and How to Find Them

This is the book that started my passion for astronomy. I got it as a birthday present a few years back along with my first small telescope, and little did I know that it would open for me a new world of exploring and wonder.

This is a great book for any beginning amateur astronomer who wants to learn more about the topic without getting overwhelmed. The books is really geared towards people who have (or want to get) a small telescope and I love the fact that it brings home the point that you don't have to use a giant expensive telescope to get started.

It goes into a very deep exploration of the moon, and sky at each season in a very straightforward way. Everything seems to simple and easy to do than you just want to take out your dusty (or new) telescope and start exploring!

An awesome book, one that I can't recommend too highly!

NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe
NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe

NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe

I've read NIghtwatch soon after my love for astronomy has been awakened and I consider this book one of the best general introductions to the topic. Astronomy has many sub-areas that one can focus on, so if you're not sure where your passion will lie within astronomy, read this book to find out.

It includes several stargazing charts that are extremely helpful and clear which makes it easy to learn about astronomy by any beginner who has never learned anything (beyond what the TV shows you) on astronomy before. If I hadn't picked Turn Left At Orion before, I'd have said this is the best book out there. Right now I consider both equally good.

The Stars
The Stars

The Stars

This is a great entry book to astronomy geared specifically towards kids. If you have a kid or know one who is interested about the stars and is always gazing upwards in wonder, this will be a perfect birthday gift.

However don't think that it's a book that adults should not pick up. On the contrary. While the language is a bit toned down so kids can easily digest the information, the book itself is great for anyone who wants to pick up a new and interesting hobby! It is really one of the best introductions to observatory astronomy out there.

Illustrated Guide to Astronomical Wonders: From Novice to Master Observer

Illustrated Guide to Astronomical Wonders: From Novice to Master Observer (DIY Science)
Illustrated Guide to Astronomical Wonders: From Novice to Master Observer (DIY Science)

This is a book that I recently picked up at Amazon. While the previous books mentioned, Nightwatch and Turn Left At Orion are my personal favorites, I certainly enjoyed this book as well, and I learned some new things too as a relatively newbie stargazer.

This is in fact another great book to get started with, you won't go wrong with this book. If you don't have a telescope, the book guides you through buying everything you need to get started with this hobby. Also it gives you a great solid foundation to build upon. You get an alphabetical listing of 50 constellations with a detailed map of each, enough to keep you going for quite some time.

If you have a 10" scope (or a better one), you will spot quite a few things. It's amazing really how much we can learn with a simple small telescope and a few basic books to guide our eyes in the right direction.

 

Did you know that...

Venus and Uranus are the only planets that rotate clockwise?

A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets Peterson Field Guides
A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets Peterson Field Guides

A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets Peterson Field Guides

Here is another great beginner astronomy book that I can heartily recommend. It contains a lot of information on astronomy to get anyone started, plus it has a detailed 52 chart atlas that is extremely useful for guidance.

This book has so much useful info that even people more advanced to astronomy can make great use of it.

Each of the planets has its own section, the sun and the sun and moon eclipses are also covered in-depth. If you are serious about this awesome hobby, this book deserves a special place on your bookshelf!

Sky & Telescope's Pocket Sky Atlas
Sky & Telescope's Pocket Sky Atlas

Sky & Telescope's Pocket Sky Atlas

Here is another great book for any newcomer to astronomy. Also perfect as a gift because the colored charts are truly a joy to browse through. You can almost used this as a coffee table book.

It's really useful when you have your own little telescope to watch the sky above with and any amateur astronomer will really enjoy having it around. My copy is a spiral bound version which is great because I can use it in a better way than just a regular paperback book.

If you're going out in the field, do not forget this book at home as it's indispensable!

Astronomy: A Beginner's Guide to the Universe
Astronomy: A Beginner's Guide to the Universe

Astronomy: A Beginner's Guide to the Universe

This is a book that I didn't buy, but my husband made it as a Christmas gift for me and it worked! If you don't consider books as idea gifts due to their rather cheap prices, check out this book. Even now at over $100 is at a discount compared to the initial price. Truly perfect for a gift that will not put anyone to shame!

And it does help the fact that it's actually useful to learn astronomy from. In fact if you take - or you know somebody who takes - astronomy in college, this is the ideal book to learn from because it's more of a college textbook than a simple hobby book. It is for really learning astronomy the serious way for any beginner level! I never took astronomy in college, but this book really did give me a solid education as a newbie stargazer.

Astronomy: A Self-Teaching Guide

Astronomy: A Self-Teaching Guide, Seventh Edition (Wiley Self-Teaching Guides)
Astronomy: A Self-Teaching Guide, Seventh Edition (Wiley Self-Teaching Guides)

While I wouldn't recommend this book as the one to start out with your journey in astronomy, it is one that is worth having on your shelf. In fact I can safely say that every book on astronomy I have at home (I have over 30) have taught me something. This book is no different. It is a great intro book to astronomy with great photos and clear explanations. Well worth having.

 

Advanced Astronomy Books

The Sky is Your Laboratory
The Sky is Your Laboratory

The Sky is Your Laboratory: Advanced Astronomy Projects for Amateurs

The Sky Is Your Laboratory is geared towards more advanced amateur astronomers, who are beyond the basics of trying to read the sky charts. With this book you can easily expand your new hobby with added knowledge and insights.

I have this book and while at times it's a bit over my head (I'm still a newbie astronomer enthusiast), it is really a great how-to book on doing a bit of space science and exploration that beginners simply don't have the eye for. It teaches you what other tools you need and it even goes a bit into spectroscopy.

This book teaches you how to do your own research that is actually useful, not only 'cute', something that a real astronomer can in fact use.

Advanced Amateur Astronomy
Advanced Amateur Astronomy

Advanced Amateur Astronomy

The beginning of this book goes over the fundamentals of astronomy, however soon it goes much deeper into it all, touching on aspects such as elescope optics, the atmosphere, astrophotography, electronic imaging, and finding the right telescope hardware and even diagnosing damaged telescopes). It's a practical book, so not much boring theory, just enough to teach you something new while keeping your attention on the subject.

If you're only starting out now with astronomy, I don't recommend you get this book yet, but if you're a bit beyond the basics, this will teach you quite a lot on pretty much every area of astronomy you'd want to learn about.

The Alchemy of the Heavens
The Alchemy of the Heavens

The Alchemy of the Heavens: Searching for Meaning in the Milky Way

Focusing on the Milky Way, this is a great book for newbie and advanced alike. It is a great account of modern cosmology as we know it. It goes in-depth into how the galaxy was made, its history and the writing helps you understand the theories without any fluff and boring text. Some of the questions that the author gives answers to are:

How the Galaxy formed and evolved? What populations and types of stars exist? What can you tell about a star just by observing its color? And how was all this knowledge acquired?

Note about the title: Don't let the world 'alchemy' confuse you as it has nothing to do with the study of the alchemy. Don't let the sadly phrased title put you off from getting the book as you'll lose out on a lot!

Did you know that...

Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are made up of just gas with no solid surface to land on?

An Introduction To Black Holes, Information And The String Theory Revolution: The Holographic Universe

An Introduction To Black Holes, Information And The String Theory Revolution: The Holographic Universe
An Introduction To Black Holes, Information And The String Theory Revolution: The Holographic Universe

It is definitely a book for the advanced astronomer hobbyist. If you are interest about black holes and their physics, about quantum mechanics, holographic universe and general relativity then this book will be an awesome read.

If you're only starting out with astronomy now, may I suggest you leave it for later. It is quite a technical text so you might not get out of it much right at the start of your journey.

A really interesting read but only for those who love to read scientific and technical books for fun!

 

Classic Books That Every Astronomy Enthusiast Should Read

A Short History of Nearly Everything

A Short History of Nearly Everything
A Short History of Nearly Everything

This is an awesome book, one that I will never part with. It's not just about astronomy, but also about physics and about everything really. Bill Bryson is a guy who once discovered that he knew pretty much nothing about the world around us, so he set out to discover it bit by bit. It's not a quick read, it's one that makes you think, but one you definitely have a sense of accomplishment once you're through with!

 

Cosmos

Cosmos
Cosmos

A classic book by Carl Sagan, I've read it back when I was a teenager and had no idea that I would eventually embrace astronomy as a part time hobby. The book stayed with me ever since and I still have my tattered and battered copy on my shelf. Really recommended classic!

 

Did you know that...

Saturn's moon Titan has hundreds of times more oil and natural gas than all the known reserves on Earth?

A Brief History of Time

A Brief History of Time
A Brief History of Time

This is again one of those books that I've read many years ago as a teen. It stayed with me ever since. Stephen Hawking wrote this book as wheelchair bound who could hardly move. If you get a chance to see some videos with him, check them out, you'll be shaken to the core. In his book he attempts to answer to questions such as: Where did the universe come from? How and why did it begin? Will it come to an end, and if so, how? A brilliant read!

 

Chariots of the Gods

Chariots of the Gods: Unsolved Mysteries of the Past
Chariots of the Gods: Unsolved Mysteries of the Past

I read in my childhood all books by Erich von Daniken as they are extremely interesting. I was curious about UFOs, about the pyramids and the weird theories that some people came up with, and Erich von Daniken is one of the most controversial writers around. In fact this book introduces the notion that we have been once visited by aliens who left us a legacy to carry on. Truly awesome book, and if you can, get hold of all his books - you won't be disappointed.

 

Do You Like Astronomy As A Hobby?

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    • profile image

      travelerme 4 years ago

      I don't have any astronomy books, only simple ones that explain abit about the solar system. I do however love astronomy, the best subject in the world. I go to NASA everyday and other sights that NASA suggests. I have created my own little book on the computer filled with things that 99% of the books probably don't have. (I really don't know what other books have [I don't ever see any] but the information I have is what people around me would say "who cares")

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      stewartscoles 4 years ago

      I am a photographer that has been hooked by things astronomic following my lens review of the Canon 60Da Yours is another one for me to follow

    • SheilaMilne profile image

      SheilaMilne 5 years ago from Kent, UK

      When I was a child I used to read everything I could lay my hands on related to astronomy, mostly Patrick Moore in those days.

    • AishwaryaTiwari1 profile image

      AishwaryaTiwari1 5 years ago

      Great list indeed, would love to lay my hands on all the books listed here.

    • profile image

      depuyhiprecalllawyer 5 years ago

      I'm gonna buy one for my son. He loves astronomy at 8.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I've always been a fan of the atmosphere and space, great site as an index for such books on this topic. *blessed*

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      There's so much about the universe we have no clue about.

    • flicker lm profile image

      flicker lm 5 years ago

      Nicely done. "Turn Left at Orion" looks like a great book! Interesting that Titan has so much oil and gas.

    • wilfredpadilla profile image

      wilfredpadilla 5 years ago

      I am interested about the blackholes. Hope you can share more.. Thanks.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I grew up watching the stars and the constellations! It was always a challenge counting the stars of Pleiades... This sure is a nice and shiny star in it's own right!

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I'm becoming more interested in Astronomy as I get older - nice book selection.