Amateur Astronomy

  • Chet Raymo, 365 Starry Nights

    Short introductions to the night sky in astronomy, literature and mythology for every night of the year.  Use an app like StarWalk or SkySafari to find the constellations outside at night, but use this book to take your first steps to learn about them.  It is an ideal family read-aloud, appropriate for a variety of ages, year after year, or use it as a supplement to an astronomy textbook to rekindle a sense of wonder at the universe.

    Here at The Sky Tonight, many of our Constellation pages are keyed to Raymo's 365 Starry Nights.

    The simplicity of 365 Starry Nights is also its virtue.  It is organized only according to day and month of the year.  

    The following index of constellations will aid in navigation for quick reference.

  • H.A. Rey, The Stars

    A true classic:  This introductory work, by the author of the Curious George stories for children, has introduced more young people to the constellations and enjoyment of the night sky than any other book.  Rey's stick figures representing the constellations are creative and whimsical, and above all memorable, even though sometimes they take liberties with the historical names of stars.

  • Staal, New Patterns in the Sky

    Staal's book is one of the most readable 1-volume introductions to skylore.  It helpfully attempts to balance traditional, classical skylore with the myths and legends of non-Western cultures.

  • Marett-Crosby, Astronomical Observations that Changed the World

    "Human history is also the record of our fascination with the sky, and to look upwards is to follow in the steps of such greats as Galileo and Newton.  What they and others once saw in the heavens for the first time, amateur astronomers can discover anew using this guide to twenty-five of the greatest journeys through space."

  • Bakich, Cambridge Guide to the Constellations

    An indispensable reference, "the most comprehensive single reference on the constellations to date; highly illustrated with star charts and maps of the celestial figures.  A series of tables provide a wealth of information and allow easy look-up and comparison for the constellations."

  • Burnham's Celestial Handbook

    Countless amateur astronomers have been inspired through the years, during their all-night hours, by examining under the light of a red flashlight their volumes of Burnham's Celestial Handbook lying open next to a telescope.  Burnham exemplifies the essence of amateur astronomy as the fusion of the then-latest scientific astronomical information with historical and literary appreciation for the wonders of the night sky.  Although the scientific information is no longer up-to-date, Burnham remains a classic that has a treasured place in every amateur astronomer's library.  Get these three volumes in hardback, so they will withstand the wear you will give them.  For a more extensive current effort inspired by Burnham, see Annals of the Deep Sky.

  • Annals of the Deep Sky

    In some ways an updated successor to Burnham's Celestial Handbook, this ongoing series explores the latest scientific understanding of deep sky objects, providing clear explanations of astrophysical theories and concepts while interweaving interesting stories in the history of astronomy.  From the back cover:  

    "Each constellation chapter includes... unique and informative graphics, visual descriptions of objects in various-sized telescopes, accounts of historical observations, summaries of current astrophysical research, and suggestions for making one's own observations."
  • Consolmagno and Davis, Turn Left at Orion

    This best-selling book is an all-in-one manual for the beginning amateur astronomer.  The subtitle says it all:  "Hundreds of Night Sky Objects to See in a Home Telescope - and How to Find Them."