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The Backyard Astronomer's Guide Hardcover – November 2, 2002

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Firefly Books; 2nd edition (November 2, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 155209507X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1552095072
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 9.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #670,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


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)

Here's the ultimate resource for anyone who's thought of following up on an interest in astronomy.... A valuable addition to the amateur astronomer's bookshelf, "The Backyard Astronomer's Guide" brings distant object to our everyday lives. (Linda Turk Chronicle-Journal (Thunder Bay) 2008-09-14)

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)

This all-encompassing reference provides practical advice. (Science News 2003-01-04)

Excellent introductory text ... completely revised from the 1991 edition, and it is lushly illustrated in color throughout. (Ursula Ellis E-Streams, Vol. 6, No. 4)

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)

Recommended for all libraries and for experienced or inexperienced amateur astronomers. (A.R. Upgren Choice 2003-04-00)

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)

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)

Its nontechnical language makes astronomy an avocation accessible to everyone. (Library Journal 2003-05-01)

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

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)

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)

More than any other guide to backyard observing, this excellent book focuses on equipment. (Astronomy 2004-11-00)

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

A comprehensive guide for the amateur astronomer on buying and using equipment, including telescopes, mounts, eyepieces, and accessories. If you're bewildered by the choice of astronomy equipment out there, this book will help immensely. (One-Minute Astronomer.com 2008-10-03)

One of the best books to guide amateurs. (Tracey Pitch Anchorage Daily News 2010-12-10)


The Best Skygazer's Guide You Can Buy
(Robert Burnham former Editor in Chief, Astronomy magazine ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 35 customer reviews
Everything is well written, easy to understand and nicely arranged.
I find this book to be the best all-round manual for beginning and experienced amateur astronomers.
Melvin H. Pritchard
This is one of the few books you can put in the hand of a novice and say "This is It!"
Laddie V. Houck

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Brian Tung on February 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Terence Dickinson is perhaps the leading writer of English-language amateur astronomy books; his Nightwatch is rightly considered one of the best introductions to the night sky and how to observe it. It covers the broad range of amateur astronomy admirably, from science to equipment to observing tactics. One of the only glaring drawbacks to the book is that it is simply too short.
The Backyard Astronomer's Guide is an able sequel. Written with fellow Canadian amateur Alan Dyer, it goes further in depth than does Nightwatch. Because it also goes into specifics in recommending telescopes and accessories, however, it quickly grew out of date. A somewhat updated and revised edition came out in 1994, but more than eight years have passed since then, and most of the models described there have been discontinued, although a few workhorses have continued to the present day.
Now, at last, this book is available in a true second edition. The changes are at once obvious and subtle. Obvious, in that the production is stunning: the old photos, mostly black-and-white, have been replaced by beautiful full-color images of the night sky and detailed diagrams of equipment. Subtle, in that the table of contents reads almost the same; it's not so much the inherent content that has changed so much as how it's presented.
One chapter from the first edition that has disappeared is one entitled "Ten Myths About Telescopes and Observing." In the first edition, this chapter was praised by reviewers and readers alike (and excoriated by some other readers, too!); it undoubtedly surpassed Dickinson and Dyer's expectations in terms of the amount of discussion it engendered. Whether you agree with them or not, they have at least educated their readers about the dispute over these myths.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By James Judson Peebles Jr. on December 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have bought around ten books on astronomy and this one is my favorite. It is a joy to read. It is written in a style of english that is understandable and a pleasure to read. It has hundreds of high quility pictures of state of the art information to date. It covers everything that you could possibly want to know about astronomy. It covers types of telescopes and which ones to stay away from buying to how to observe planets and deep sky objects. It covers the basics on how to use your first telescope. I love this book so much that I would recomend to anyone that wants to know about the fun stuff that one would want to know on this subject. I'm not kidding this book is beautiful and I spend more time on this book reading over and over subjects that I want to know more about. If you want my honest opinion you will be very happy with this fine book.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Laddie V. Houck on August 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the few books you can put in the hand of a novice and say "This is It!" It is comprehensive and informative in all areas of amateur astromomy from choosing the best telescope (one that you will use, not necessarily the most expensive) for your goals and objectives, to finding all manner of planets, stars, nebulas, and other objects in the night sky. It even covers astrophotography and the equipment necessary to take the pictures you desire. I found this book very informative and helpful and its price will definitely save you a bundle in mispurchased equipment if you follow the advice of the authors. An excellent, easy-to-read book for all amateur astronomers.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on November 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoy reading this book. It is perfect for begginers and advanced alike and has detailed information about stuff like planets and there moons and seting up common equatorial mounts. It also has an extensive amonut of telescope reviews for whatever your price or observing preference.

Terece Dickinson and Alan Dyer realy did a good job on this book. I think it is begginer freindly and clearly states what a bad scope is like, how to take photographs, types of mounts, and things about magnification and eypeices. It helped me choose my first telescope, one of the best, a Nexstar 11 GPS. I recomend that telescope to anyone who can carry it and aford it.

If you are interested in astronomy BUY THIS BOOK
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Taras R. Hnatyshyn on February 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This classic introduction to amateur astronomy has gotten a much improved revised edition. Dickinson and Dyer have updated this indispensable resource for the 21st century. This book is divided into three main parts.
The first covers the hardware. The authors explain the workings of the different types of scopes and accessories and give suggestions based upon budget and the type of viewing to be pursued. They tell you what hardware is essential, what is nice to have, and what you can live without including new scopes and accessories that have come out since the previous edition. Also covered is how to set up the scopes properly, and what mistakes to avoid setting up a new scope for the first time.
The second part is a crash course on the sky, starting with what you can see with the naked eye, observing conditions based on your location, and then how to observe the various objects in the sky with the equipment from the first part.
The final part is an introduction to photographing the sky with a camera (film or digital) or a dedicated CCD imager. Coverage includes simple camera on a tripod or barndoor mount setups, piggybacking on a telescope, and thru the telescope photography. Enough to get one started.
The text is not the only part of this book to be updated. Hundreds of color photos have been sprinkled liberally throughout this guide. If you are just getting one book before plunging into amateur astronomy, make this the book. It is great for beginning and intermediate amateurs.
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