The Backyard Astronomer's Guide

by Jon Christensen

The Backyard Astronomerís Guide
by Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer
Firefly Books Ltd., $39.95

Being a relative newcomer to amateur astronomy, I found myself looking for a book that would help me get a better understanding of equipment, observing, and the hobby in general. After cruising the MAPUG topical archives, I came across a posting that suggested reading a book called "The Backyard Astronomerís Guide".

Veteran astronomy writers Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer describe their book as "a detailed practical guide to getting the most out of the experience of night-sky watching".

"The Backyard Astronomerís Guide" was thorough and answered many questions for me and those that I hear being asked by new members during our star parties, ranging from the basic ones - What kind of scope is that? - to the more advanced - What kind of camera is best for astrophotography and what makes it good?.

Some of the chapters in the book are:

Binoculars for the Beginner and the Serious Observer
Telescopes for Recreational Astronomy
Eyepieces and Filters
Accessories and Observing Aids
Ten Myths About Telescopes and Observing
The Sky Without a Telescope
Observing the Moon, Sun and Comets
Observing the Planets
How to Find Your Way Around the Sky
Exploring the Deep Sky
Capturing the Sky on Film

The authors describe the pros and cons of different types and even different brands of equipment, which is something I could have used when I bought my first telescope. I would highly recommend that anyone new to astronomy read this book from cover to cover before buying their first piece of equipment.

I found the chapters on astrophotography to be of particular interest.

If you are new to astronomy and find yourself with a lot of questions about the basics of the hobby, read this book, and your satisfaction and enjoyment will definitely be enhanced.