What reviewers and readers are saying about the 3rd Edition:

SKY AND TELESCOPE: “Guide books for amateur astronomers abound, but none is more up to date than the heavily illustrated third edition of Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer’s The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide. It’s an indispensable aid for amateurs wading into the ocean of modern telescopes, eyepieces and accessories. And the section on astrophotography with digital cameras is among the finest we’ve seen...If you were to own only one book on amateur astronomy, this is it.”

SKY AT NIGHT MAGAZINE: “This lavishly illustrated hardback is a comprehensive guide to practical astronomy, covering every conceivable facet of the hobby. Its 368 pages range from what there is to see in the sky, both night and day, to advanced techniques like astrophotography and collimation...We recommend it to absolutely everyone.”

JOURNAL of the ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY OF CANADA: “...The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide is an excellent guide to practical amateur astronomy. Any aspiring astronomer would benefit strongly by reading this beautiful book. The authors have laid out technical details and tips that will save a neophyte telescope user many hours of frustration...In short, I highly recommend this thoughtful and thorough exposition of the practical aspects of our hobby.”


“I am a beginner in astronomy as a hobby so I have looked at all the resources I thought I needed like internet sites and forums, reviews and the like. If you are looking to purchase equipment and seriously get into this hobby buy this book. It is up to date with 2010 information that is as valuable as anything you'll find on the internet and often less confusing. ...The Backyard Astronomer's Guide is the best investment a beginner in the hobby could make it should be your very first purchase even before any equipment.”

“This is the perfect book for someone interested in learning astronomy as a hobby. The hard cover, high quality images and nice paper makes this book collectors material. Books like this are why I still enjoy traditional books instead of e-books.”

“Being new to backyard astronomy, I was a little hesitant to spend the money on this book, as it seemed to be a little expensive. I read a few of the reviews and decided to take the plunge. Now that this book is in my hands, you would have quite a challenge prying it away from me. The authors, Dickinson and Dyer have covered EVERYTHING that I could think of, and then some..... I can honestly say that it is one of my most prized astronomy possessions. I cannot think of any case where I got so much really useful information about a subject that I love for so little money.”

“This newly updated version of The Backyard Astronomers Guide is up to date, relevant, and comprehensive. It is particularly useful for helping astronomers navigate the many, many, many brands, styles, and sizes of telescopes and equipment....For this reason alone it is useful. I have been involved in astronomy for quite some time and when I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down until I had finished it.”

“I am a tech-savvy (engineer type) new astronomy amateur. This book is an excellent source of information. It is almost a reference book that covers many aspects of amateur astronomy...with real "how to" information.”

“This is the most complete book for amateur astronomers. I have read many good books on the subject and have a decent library but The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide takes first place.”

“In my opinion, this is the best book available for amateur astronomers. The authors are very candid in their reviews of equipment and their advice is excellent.”

“This book is absolutely the best written and most informative guide I have.”

“To the point: Buy no other. This is THE best book on the subject. Amateur? Professional? Intermediate? Just starting? STOP. This is the book to buy. PERIOD. Is this simple enough?”


“I can be long-winded about everything I like about it...but, to sum it up- IT'S JUST DOWNRIGHT SUPERB!!!!  There's absolutely nothing to dislike.”

“I am almost finished reading the latest edition of The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide and would like to let you know it exceeded my every expectation!”
“Your book is extraordinary and marvelous. Never seen such a complete and updated general guide for stargazers, so marvelously illustrated and so easy to grasp. Your site doubles the usefulness of the book.”

“I am enjoying reading the third edition of The Backyard Astronomer's Guide. It is an excellent resource and greatly appreciated by amateur astronomers world wide.”

“Kudos for your fine body of work...the new chapter on CCD imaging is a wealth of information and insight as only two veterans of your collective experience could provide!”

“If you are new to astronomy, THIS is THE book. I have read it and re-read on a regular basis as questions arise...An indispensable reference.”

Published by Firefly Books Ltd.

Copyright © 2010 & 2012 (3rd printing)

Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer

ISBN 13: 978-1-55407-344-3

ISBN 10: 1-55407-344-8

Produced by

Bookmakers Press Inc.

12 Pine Street

Kingston, Ontario K7K 1W1

(613) 549-4347

Original design by Robbie Cooke

Revised edition by Michael Webb

Front cover image of the Horsehead Nebula by R. Jay GaBany


The website supports our book The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide, now in its Third Edition, revised and updated in 2010. At 368 pages, the latest edition is 32 pages larger than the 2nd edition, which itself was 40 pages larger than the original 1991 edition. Yet, the price remains $50. So if you have earlier editions, it is worth the upgrade! However, the book is available only as a hardcover print edition.


Here you’ll find lots of up-to-date information and advice about all aspects of the hobby. We have movies and animations, updates on equipment, further advice on buying telescopes, links to hundreds of companies and other helpful websites, and loads of recommendations for other books to read. Just click to start exploring the site’s content, organized by topic to match the book’s content. Please Contact Us to e-mail us your comments.

— Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer, September 2015

Welcome to our website for Backyard Astronomers

    Among the current highlights of the site:
Chapter 1 — A “Cosmic Zoom” through the universe + an Illustrated “Aah” Factor

Chapter 1 & all other chapters — Extensive lists of our favourite books on all topics

Chapter 3 — Suggestions for best beginner telescopes + updates on new telescopes

Chapters 3, 4 & 5 — Extensive “Links” to websites of telescope & accessory suppliers

Chapters 7, 11 & 12 — Time-lapse “real-sky”movies of sky phenomena & motions

Chapter 8 — Home movies of star parties

Chapter 13 — Articles on recommended autoguiders and new DSLR cameras

Chapter 14 — Summary of new iPad appsChapter_1__Getting_Started_in_Astronomy.htmlCosmic_Zoom.htmlIllustrated_Aah_Factor.htmlChapter_1_Reading.htmlExplore_by_Chapter_Topic.htmlChapter_3__Choosing_a_Telescope.htmlThe_Best_Beginner_Telescopes.htmlThe_Best_Beginner_Telescopes.htmlTelescope_Reviews_1.htmlChapter_3_Links.htmlChapter_4_Links.htmlChapter_5_Links.htmlChapter_7__Naked_Eye_Astronomy.htmlSky_Motion_Movies/Sky_Motion_Movies.htmlSouthern_Sky_Time-Lapse_Movies/Southern_Sky_Time-Lapse_Movies.htmlStar_Party_Movies/Star_Party_Movies.htmlChapter_13__Digital_Astrophotography.htmlNew_Autoguiding_Options.htmlDSLR_Cameras_for_Astrophotography.htmlChapter_14__Go_To_Telescopes.htmlshapeimage_6_link_0shapeimage_6_link_1shapeimage_6_link_2shapeimage_6_link_3shapeimage_6_link_4shapeimage_6_link_5shapeimage_6_link_6shapeimage_6_link_7shapeimage_6_link_8shapeimage_6_link_9shapeimage_6_link_10shapeimage_6_link_11shapeimage_6_link_12shapeimage_6_link_13shapeimage_6_link_14shapeimage_6_link_15shapeimage_6_link_16shapeimage_6_link_17shapeimage_6_link_18shapeimage_6_link_19

Website design by Alan Dyer

Our book, The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide, is as complete a guide to the modern hobby of amateur astronomy as we could pack into one book. Even so, our website allows us to supplement the book’s printed content with other media, and to provide updates for rapidly-changing areas of the hobby.

The main section of the website is divided into “Chapters” that match the topics in the book. Under each chapter you’ll find three main sections ….

What’s New … provides updates of book content such as news and reviews of new telescope models, accessories or software, & current hot cameras for astrophotography.

Plus you’ll find additional information to expand the subject matter of that chapter. In some cases, the supplements contain videos and other media.

Links … provide links to our favourite websites related to the chapter topic. We also provide an extensive set of links to manufacturers of astronomy hardware and software.

Recommended Reading … provides a list of books we recommend to pursue your interest further in that chapter’s subject. While our book contains a 3-page bibliography, the website expands upon that, providing links to publishers.

This site works best with Apple’s Safari browser
(Mac and Windows). Click the icon to download it.
   What’s Here ON OUR BOOK’s WEBSITEExplore_by_Chapter_Topic.html

 A selection of on-line retailers where you can order the book: — in the U.S.
Barnes & Noble — in the U.S. — in Canada. — in Canada. — in the UK
Dymocks Booksellers — in Australia.
Sorry, but we do not sell the book directly through this website. Nor does the publisher, Firefly Books, sell the book through an e-commerce site. To purchase the book, please go to your favourite on-line retailer or local bookstore. Below, we’ve provided a number of links that take you directly to the book’s webpages at various on-line retailers. 

However, if a link is no longer active, go to the retailer’s main page and search for The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide or look under Astronomy: Stargazing. Many astronomy shops and telescope retailers will also stock the book. Please support your local telescope store if one is near you.
This site works best with Apple’s Safari browser
(Mac and Windows). Click the icon to download it.
Made on a Mac
   What’s INside OUR BOOKBook_Contents.html
See inside the book for a detailed listing of the book’s content by chapter.Book_Contents.htmlshapeimage_19_link_0
See inside the book for a selection of sample spreads from various chapters.Book_Contents-Samples.htmlshapeimage_20_link_0
   What’s NEW on our webSite
Current Highlights:.

Chapter 13 has updated autoguider and DSLR camera recommendations, current as of September 2015.

   BUYING A NEW TELESCOPE?Chapter_3__Choosing_a_Telescope.html
Check Our Buying Advice:
In Chapter 3 of our website be sure to read:
Best Beginner’s Telescopes
Telescope News & Reviews 
Chapter 3 of our book has lots more information.Chapter_3__Choosing_a_Telescope.htmlThe_Best_Beginner_Telescopes.htmlTelescope_Reviews_1.htmlshapeimage_26_link_0shapeimage_26_link_1shapeimage_26_link_2

Click on the page to begin exploring our book’s website by chapter and topic.