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77 of 77 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amateur's Guide gets a celestial makeover
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...
Published on February 26, 2004 by Brian Tung

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book
Very descriptive and a good buy but didn't serve the purpose I bought it for. I wanted a book to know understand the stars positions and planet paths, directions along the sky. This is a good book for intermediate amateur astronomers.
Published 11 months ago by Mark T


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77 of 77 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amateur's Guide gets a celestial makeover, February 26, 2004
By 
Brian Tung (Marina del Rey, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Backyard Astronomer's Guide (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 Because it also goes into specifics in recommending telescopes and accessories, however, it quickly grew out of date.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 Obvious, in that the production is stunning: the old photos, mostly black-and-white, have been replaced by beautiful full-color images of the night sky and detailed diagrams of equipment.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. It's hardly the case that anyone makes claims like "Images Appear Brighter in Fast Telescopes" (Myth #2 from the 1994 edition) without being challenged.
Perhaps because of that, and also because Dickinson and Dyer may have felt that it was more important to make sure that beginners (who might buy this book without buying Nightwatch first) were able to use their equipment effectively, the myths chapter has been replaced by an introduction to using telescopes. Like all the other chapters, this one is lavishly illustrated and finely detailed, enough so that one can follow along, step-by-step, in assembling and orienting a telescope and its mount. For example, nearly a full page is devoted to getting a telescope on a GEM, or German Equatorial Mount, to cross the meridian, a tough task for beginners to figure out on their own.
Also substantially changed in presentation is the chapter on finding your way around the night sky. The vagaries of navigation, the celestial sphere, and the nightly movements of the planets, are here illustrated by several pages of diagrams, printed from a number of different planetarium programs. This book has definitely felt the impact of computer visualization of the sky.
Elsewhere, the material has been updated more than changed. New equipment has replaced old equipment, and some of that old equipment now appears in a "classics" category--things to look for in the used telescopes bin. There is a new spin on the chapter on accessories: these have been divided into must-haves, nice-to-haves, and don't-haves. (Much to my surprise, the two-dollar eye patch that I find so handy to relieve strain on my right eye--I'm left-eyed--has been unceremoniously dumped in the don't-have category.)
Should you buy this book? If you don't have it yet, and you'd like a comprehensive, easy-to-understand reference, this is the one. There really is nothing else like it on the market today. If you have one of the older editions, the decision is harder. Certainly, there's enough overlap that you can probably find out newer information from various sources without spending the same amount of money. But it's hard to get it all in one place, and the new edition certainly is a visual treat.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My most prized Book on Astronomy, December 30, 2002
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This review is from: The Backyard Astronomer's Guide (Hardcover)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding for beginning to intermediate astronomers, August 5, 2005
By 
Laddie V. Houck (Salt Lake City, Utah) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Backyard Astronomer's Guide (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Geat Book, Great Reading, Great Pics, November 10, 2004
A Kid's Review
This review is from: The Backyard Astronomer's Guide (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
5.0 out of 5 stars The Backyard has gotten bigger and better, February 22, 2003
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This review is from: The Backyard Astronomer's Guide (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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Second book you should buy, December 1, 2004
By 
Timm (Bartlett, IL, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Backyard Astronomer's Guide (Hardcover)
This is the second book that anyone interested in learning Astronomy should buy, right after buying and reading NightWatch. Everything is well written, easy to understand and nicely arranged. I can't say enough about how valuable this book is for everyone from beginners to experienced users.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great first reference and resource book., September 14, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Backyard Astronomer's Guide (Hardcover)
Based on recommendations from the astronomy newsgroups, I bought this book. This is a great first book to get. It is very comprehensive, giving you all the necessary background before diving into Astronomy.
I would call this the "Astronomy Survey Book (101)" cutting a wides swath through many different facets. There is a section on binoculars which I am following. They tell you to start with binoculars before buying a telescope. It forces you to learn the sky, and could save you some $$ if you later decide this isn't for you.
I find myself going back to the book to find other books (Star Atlas for example).
I like to 'rate' my collection (various books) by the number of slips of paper are hanging out of the pages (marking 'important' sections). There are quite a few slips of paper hanging out, besides the layout of the book is quite intuitive, I find myself flipping to sections without a bookmark quite easily.
This is a hardcover book, it is not meant for field use (and I have not seen the need to carry it with me outside).
Because of this book, I have ordered a 'slew' of other astronomy books and star charts.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another awesome astronomy book!!, January 12, 2003
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This review is from: The Backyard Astronomer's Guide (Hardcover)
What a glorious book this is!! If you are a budding backyard astronomer,this is the book for you.It is written in terms that a novice can easily understand.Each chapter contains an abundance of info and gorgeous photos.The book covers explanations and suggestions for each step you will take to become the amateur astronomer you have always wanted to be.I cannot recommend this book highly enough.You will be fascinated by every page.And you will find yourself becoming more and more comfortable learning the technology behind telescopes,and astrophotography.May I also suggest that you get "Nightwatch," by Mr. Dickinson? Another gem,and a fine companion to this book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Amateur Astronomy Manual, March 19, 2006
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This review is from: The Backyard Astronomer's Guide (Hardcover)
I find this book to be the best all-round manual for beginning and experienced amateur astronomers. It has great explanantions for the range of natural phenomena in the sky. The authors make them very accessible and easy for the general reader (ones who know little about astronomy). Their tips for observing the universe are great and useful. I hope they will update their book soon; the telescope advice is out of date. Go to telescopes and CCD astronomy are more common and inexpensive. Even so, the book is highly recommend as a manual for the amateur astronomer. If astronomy clubs are starting a library, this is the first book they should buy.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably The Best Single Reference For Stargazers, April 22, 2007
This review is from: The Backyard Astronomer's Guide (Hardcover)
In one volume, Dickinson and Dyer have managed to cover about 95% of what amateur astronomers want to know to get a solid start in this fascinating hobby. From naked-eye observing to binocular astronomy, through sophisticated telescopes and astrophotography, this book provides solid info in an easy-reading, photo-filled format that will be a good companion on those cloudy nights when you're restricted to armchair astronomy. Especially helpful to me were the extensive tips on how to comfortably observe using lawnchairs and tripod-mounted binoculars. Your neck will thank you, too.

Enthisiastically recommended.
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The Backyard Astronomer's Guide
The Backyard Astronomer's Guide by Alan Dyer (Hardcover - November 2, 2002)
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