Backyard Astronomer’s
Third Edition

from Chapter 3 on Telescopes

In a large and popular section of Chapter 3 we take several pages to survey our favorite and recommended telescopes in all price ranges from starter to dream scope. This chapter is extensively updated to cover new brands and models of scopes. For many readers this is the heart of the book.

sample spreads from selected chapters

from Chapter 4 on Eyepieces

We describe eyepieces in detail, including new wide-field designs, and provide brand-specific recommendations of our favorites, in all price ranges from budget to premium class. Again, we revised this chapter to cover new models we tested in the last few years.

From Chapter 5 on Accessories

We survey the complex array of accessories available to amateur astronomers, sorting out the essential from the superfluous. We cover everything from flashlights to domes. This is another greatly revamped chapter.

From Chapter 6 on Using a Telescope

Years of experience teaching telescope courses has taught us what puzzles people most about their new scopes. Chapter 6 provides a “missing manual,” with step-by-step instructions on setting up typical entry-level telescopes.

From Chapter 7 on Naked-Eye Astronomy

There’s lots to see in the sky even without fancy gear. We cover atmospheric phenomena and other naked-eye sky sights such as auroras and satellites. We include information on upcoming events such as conjunctions and eclipses until 2020.

From Chapter 9 on Sun, Moon and Planets

We cover telescope observing techniques for the solar system here and in Chapter 10, including updated information about solar filters and recent comets. Here and throughout the book, almost every image has been replaced and updated.

From Chapter 11 on Finding Your Way Around the Sky

A big part of learning the sky is getting to know how it moves and why things appear where they do in the sky at different times of the night and through the year. Chapter 11 provides an “Astro 101” primer on celestial motions as well as a survey of star charts, finder aids, and instructions on how to “star hop” to celestial targets.

From Chapter 12 on Deep-Sky Observing

We devote a large chapter to the techniques and the subjects of deep-sky observing, sorting out the menagerie of objects, from stars to galaxy clusters and the jargon surrounding deep-sky catalogs. We even include some historical vignettes. For this edition, we inserted a newly-revised section on the “great southern sky,” extolling the wonders of the southern hemisphere.

From Chapter 13 on Digital Astrophotography

We completely tossed out all the old astrophoto sections and redid this topic from the ground up. Digital SLR cameras have revolutionized astro-imaging and this chapter covers how to select and use DSLRs, including deep-sky guiding techniques. We include lots of specific equipment recommendations. We concentrate on DSLRs because that’s what we use — most of the images in the book are ones we took with DSLRs.

From Chapter 13 on Digital Astrophotography

A section of Chapter 13 covers, in tutorial format, how to process DSLR images, from RAW to finished photo, using a “workflow” based on Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. We cover RAW conversion, stacking, noise reduction, and the use of adjustment layers to enhance contrast and color.

From Chapter 14 on High-Tech Astronomy

A greatly revised chapter covers tips and techniques for getting a computerized Go To scope “going to” where it is supposed to, with tips for Meade, Celestron, Vixen, and Sky-Watcher systems. We cover software programs and how to get your laptop or handheld device talking to your “smart scope.”

From Chapter 15 on Alignment, Collimation and Cleaning

Previously available only through downloadable files, the much-requested information about polar alignment, collimation, cleaning and star-testing of telescope optics is now in the print edition of the book. No subjects perplex backyard astronomers more than these, and this chapter provides thorough tutorials for keeping your scope working right.

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