Backyard Astronomer’s
Third Edition

Here’s a complete listing of chapter titles and contents for the printed book. This website provides supplemental material to complement the content of each of these chapters. Click on Sample Spreads to go to a page with more samples of the book’s content.

contents of the printed book, third edition

Amateur Astronomy Comes of Age

•Naturalists of the Night

•Amateur Astronomy Today •Getting in Deeper •Are You Ready?

part one: Choosing equipment for backyard astronomy

Binoculars for the Beginner and the Serious Observer

•Celestial Showcase •Selecting Binoculars • Exit Pupil •Focusing Tip•Field of View •Canon IS Binoculars •Eyeglasses and Binoculars •Binocular Tests •Key Factors to Consider When Selecting Binoculars •Recommendations •Giant Binoculars

Telescopes for Recreational Astronomy

•Brief History of Telescopes • Magnification Scam •Aperture Fever •Types of Optics •Decoding Telescope Specs •Surveying the Telescope Market •Signs of a Good Starter Scope •Pros and Cons of Telescope Types •Mounting Menagerie •8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain •Recommended Telescopes •Buying for the Child •Used-Scope Lot •Making a Purchase •Scopes to Avoid

Essential Accessories: Eyepieces & Filters

•Focal Length •Field of View •Calculating Power •Eye Relief •Coatings •Designs to Avoid •Wide-Field Eyepieces •Our Favorite Eyepieces •Long-Eye-Relief Eyepieces •Nagler-Class Eyepieces •Barlow Lenses •Recommended Eyepiece Sets •Coma Correctors •Planetary Filters •Lunar Filters •Deep-Sky or Nebula Filters

The Backyard Guide ‘Accessory Catalog’

•Upgraded Finders •Reflex Sighting Devices •Really Bad Finders •Cases •Dew-Remover Coils •Power Packs •Observing Chairs •Scope Covers •Collimation Tools •Digital Setting Circles •Dob Platforms & Drives •Superbright Diagonals •Where to Keep Your Scope •Binocular Viewers •Domes & Shelters •Laser Pointers •Focus Motors •Astro-Travel

Chapter 2: Chapter_2__Binoculars_for_Astronomy.html
Chapter 1: Chapter_1__Getting_Started_in_Astronomy.html
Chapter 3: Chapter_3__Choosing_a_Telescope.html
Chapter 4: Chapter_4__Telescope_Eyepieces_and_Filters.html
Chapter 5: Chapter_5__Telescope_Accessories.html

Using Your New Telescope

•Introducing the Beginner’s Scope •Decoding Directions •The Mount •The Optical Tube •The Tripod •How a Telescope Moves •How Not to Set Up a Telescope •Telescope Assembly, a 10-Step Program •Daytime Adjustments •Getting Lined Up •Leveling •Aligning •Doing the Equatorial Tango •A Change of Latitude •First-Light Do’s and Don’ts •Why is the View Upside Down? •Top 10 Newbie Questions

Chapter 6: Chapter_6__How_to_Use_Your_Telescope.html
 To Sample SpreadsBook_Contents-Samples.htmlBook_Contents-Samples.htmlshapeimage_22_link_0

Click on the Chapter’s image to go to the support pages for that Chapter that includes:
What’s New?
Recommended Reading

The Naked-Eye Sky

•Rainbows •Halos and Sundogs •Glories and Coronas •Phenomena of the Sunset Sky •Green Flash •Twilights and Earth’s Shadow •Harvest Moon •Why Does the Moon Look So Big? •Earthshine •The Best Conjunctions 2008-2020 •Satellites •Noctilucent Clouds •Phenomena of the Dark Sky •Meteors and Showers •Zodiacal Light •Auroras •The Milky Way •Recording Observations

part TWO: observing the celestial panorama

Observing Conditions: Your Site and Light Pollution

•The Eroding Sky •Dark Sky Preserves • Observing From the City •Evaluating the Observing Site •Rating Your Observing Site •Remote Observing Site •Conventions at Dark-Sky Sites •Limiting-Magnitude Factors •The Darkest Sites in the World •Averted Vision •The Magnitude Scale

Observing the Moon, Sun and Comets

•Lunar Observing •Is There Anything Left to Discover? •Equipment for Lunar Observing •Solar Observing •Solar Viewing by Projection •Solar Filters for Telescopes •Comets •Bright Comets: 1957 to 2007 •Recent Comets • Discovering a Comet • Weird and Wonderful Comets of the 21st Century

Finding Your Way Around the Sky

•How the Sky Works 

•Where’s the North Star? •March of the Constellations •Path of the Planets •Ecliptic Highs and Lows •Going Through a Phase •Learning to Star-Hop •Finder Aids •Handy Sky Measures •A Sample Star Hop •Star Atlases •Helpful Finder Cards

Chapter 7: Chapter_7__Naked_Eye_Astronomy.html
Chapter 8: Chapter_8__Choosing_an_Observing_Site.html
Chapter 9: Chapter_9__Observing_the_Sun,_Moon_and_Comets.html

Observing the Planets

•The Lure of Other Worlds • Mercury •Observing Mercury by Day •Venus •Telescopic Appearance •Inferior Conjunction •Observing Mars •Mars Oppositions •Percival Lowell •Planetary Filters •Jupiter •Jupiter’s Four Major Moons •Saturn •Saturn’s Satellite Family •Uranus • Neptune

Chapter 10: Chapter_10__Observing_the_Planets.html
Chapter 11: Chapter_11__Finding_Your_Way_Around_the_Sky.html

Exploring the Deep Sky

•The Deep-Sky Zoo •Learning to See •Messier’s Catalog & Marathon •The NGC and IC •Herschel’s Catalog •Beyond the NGC •Sky Tour 1: The Stars •Double Stars •Carbon Stars •Sky Tour 2: Star Clusters •Asterisms, the Un-Clusters •Sky Tour 3: Where Stars Are Born •Dark Nebulas •Sky Tour 4: Where Stars Die •Sky Tour 5: Beyond the Milky Way •Sketching •The Great Southern Sky

Chapter 12: Chapter_12__Observing_Deep-Sky_Objects.html

Digital Astrophotography

•Buying a DSLR •Stock vs. Modified •Lenses and Accessories •Focusing a DSLR •Setting a DSLR •Tripod Subjects •Star Trails •Time-Lapse Shooting •Shoot the Moon and Sun •Afocal Imaging • Working with Webcams •Selecting a Telescope and Mount •Piggyback Shooting •Prime-Focus Deep Sky •Guiding Tips •Image Processing •Image Enhancement

part Three: Advanced tips and techniques

High-Tech Astronomy

•SkyScout and MySky •GoTo Tips and Techniques (Celestron, Meade, Sky-Watcher, Vixen) •Guide to Software •Planetarium Programs •Star Charting Programs •Specialty Programs •Connecting Telescope and Computer •Remote Observing

Polar Alignment, Collimation, Cleaning and Testing

•Polar Aligning Fork-Mounted Telescopes •Finder Charts: North and South Celestial Poles •Polar Aligning German Equatorial Mounts •Polar Sighting Scopes •Precise Methods •Cleaning Telescope Optics •Collimating Telescope Optics •Star-Testing Optics •Atlas of Aberrations


Further Reading


The Authors

by Glenn LeDrew

An atlas of the Milky Way, in 10 charts, 56° high and at 36° intervals, plotting clusters, nebulas, and OB associations — objects suitable for binoculars, telescopes and as photographic targets. Each chart is presented in a photo-realistic unlabeled version and in a black-on-white labeled version.

Chapter 13: Chapter_13__Digital_Astrophotography.html
Chapter 14: Chapter_14__Go_To_Telescopes.html
Chapter 15: Chapter_15__Polar_Alignment,_Collimation,_Cleaning_and_Testing_of_Telescopes.html
Milky Way Atlas Milky_Way_Atlas_by_Glenn_LeDrew.html