In print for 30 years!
Now in an all-new edition.
Available wherever books are sold,
online and in stores.
Welcome to the website for our new revised and expanded Fourth Edition of the popular guidebook to amateur astronomy by Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer. Over the 30 years since the first edition was published in 1991, the book has sold more than 225,000 copies. The Fourth Edition is available at most bookshops.
This is the new edition fans of our book have been waiting for!
New readers will find our book covers all you need to know to become an expert amateur astronomer, from getting started in learning the sky, through purchasing and using a telescope, to taking superb astrophotos.
Our 416-page book is divided into four main Parts, below. Plus an Appendix covers polar alignment, as well as cleaning, collimating and testing of telescope optics.
• Included are three new “sky tour” chapters by guest author Ken Hewitt-White.
• The Foreword is by world-renowned astrophysicist Prof. Sara Seager.
What’s in the Fourth Edition?
Getting Started in Astronomy
Chapters 1 to 6 cover: Naked-eye astronomy, your observing site, and choosing and using binoculars. Seasonal star charts for both the northern and southern hemispheres help you learn your way around the sky.
Choosing & Using a Telescope
Chapters 7 to 11 cover: Choosing a telescope, choosing eyepieces and filters, choosing essential accessories, setting up a telescope, using an equatorial mount, and using a computerized GoTo scope.
Chapters 12 to 16 cover: Observing the Sun, Moon and eclipses, observing the planets and comets, and exploring the deep sky. New chapters provide tours of the Moon and the finest deep sky objects.
Chapters 17 & 18 cover: Photographing the sky with DSLR and mirrorless cameras, in nightscapes and in long exposures with trackers and telescopes, plus how to process images in step-by-step tutorials.
What’s New in the Fourth Edition?
Almost everything! Not a page goes without major updates and re-writes of text. Many chapters have received complete overhauls.
• The book has been beautifully and completely redesigned, but retains the basic format and all the content — and more! — of earlier editions.
• The Fourth Edition is even bigger, with 48 more pages.
• Almost every image, of the sky and gear, has been replaced with new photos.
• All equipment and software recommendations have been updated to products available as of 2021.
• Tests of specific binoculars and eyepieces have been included.
• Tutorials have been added for setting up popular brands of GoTo telescopes.
• Astrophotography coverage has been expanded into two chapters.
• Image processing tutorials have been revised.
• We’ve added three new sky tour chapters: Deep Sky tours for binoculars, and tours of the Moon and Deep Sky highlights with a telescope.
• See “Look Inside” for detailed chapter-by-chapter contents.
Praise from reviewers of the current Fourth Edition
“Get excited – the fourth edition of The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide is here.…This invaluable guide will appeal to anyone no matter their experience, the equipment they have (or not) or where they live. Dickinson and Dyer do just that with this book – emphasizing that astronomy is truly a hobby for all…”— BBC Sky at Night magazine, October 2021
“The 416-page book is huge. Barely a detail has been overlooked. Seasoned astronomers will learn something new, and beginners … will be learning from two astronomers with decades of knowledge and experience.… I found the book to be a real page-turner. The authors’ clear and engaging prose was effortless to follow.”— SkyNews magazine, November/December 2021
“How do you go from being a casual stargazer to an accomplished amateur astronomer? You buy this book, that’s how.… As someone who travels to the southern hemisphere I appreciated the lack of northern hemisphere bias, which blights so many “complete guides” to the night sky, and the coverage of both lunar and solar eclipses.”— Jamie Carter for Forbes.com
“A perennial book that’s been recently updated and includes all you need to know about star gazing. The beautiful hardcover edition offers maps of the night skies, tours of the moon and other ways to observe the universe.”— Toronto Star, Books Gift Guide, November 26, 2021
“It has everything you can think of to learn this hobby. I was trying my hardest to find something that was missing, but I couldn’t!”— Antoine and Dalia Grelin, Galactic Hunter YouTube Channel
“I wholeheartedly recommend getting this book because it will be a book that can be referenced for years to come.… This guy says thumbs up all the way!”— David Fuller, Eyes on the Sky YouTube Channel
“…Every chapter has been improved….The part dealing with observing contains much new material; even if you have one of the earlier editions, this new one is worth getting for this section alone.…It is hard to believe it has been over thirty years since I first made my acquaintance with this book.…This new version is the best one of all.”— Ed Ting, AstroGear Today.com
Praise from reviewers of earlier editions
“More than any other guide to backyard observing, this excellent book focuses on equipment.”— Astronomy magazine
“Big colorful user-friendly book … I recommend this book for anyone who is contemplating buying a telescope, has one but does not quite know how to use it, or wants to learn more about accessories and fun activities to supplement his or her stargazing…. This book is your passport to the stars.”— Sky & Telescope magazine
“Few books capture the spirit of the hobby so well — the pleasures and the pitfalls of the equipment you might need, and the simple joy of watching the universe go by.”— American Scientist magazine
Praise from readers of earlier editions (via e-mail)
- “Thank you for this wonderful book that continues to inspire and bring me joy … I hope it keeps printing on and on.”
- “Thank you for creating this wonderful resource!”
- “I’ve found The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide to be very helpful in growing my astronomy knowledge! Terrific guidance.”
- “Thanks for a wonderful book that is actually very practical. I really appreciated reading it even in this age of YouTube videos and websites.… I don’t think I’ve come across anything more useful than your book.”
- “At 68, I’m a little old to just be starting this hobby, but after reading your Backyard Astronomer’s Guide, I’m kind of hooked!”
- “I bought the first edition of your outstanding Backyard Astronomer’s Guide a quarter century ago. I still consider it, by far, the best book on the practical side of amateur astronomy I have ever come across.”
- “Let me first begin by stating that, in my opinion, The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide is the best astronomy reference I have ever seen! Thank you! I’ve had my copy for several years now and am always referencing back to it.”
- “I have purchased each edition of The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide … and think they are the most comprehensive treatments of the subject available. Well done and thanks.”
- “I love the book! Your information and advice helped me get started in the hobby with a great pair of binoculars!”
About our Book
- Fourth Edition, 2021
- Published by Firefly Books Ltd.
- Produced by Bookmaker’s Press Inc.
- 416 pages; hardcover
- ISBN 13: 978-0-2281-0327-1
- Available at most sales outlets
From Sky & Telescope
“Guide books for amateur astronomers abound, but none is more up to date … If you were to own only one book on amateur astronomy, this is it.”Sky & Telescope magazine, reviewing the Second Edition, 2002
From The Sky at Night
“This lavishly illustrated hardback is a comprehensive guide to practical astronomy, covering every conceivable facet of the hobby.”The Sky at Night magazine, reviewing the Third Edition, 2010
About the Authors
Terence Dickinson, Alan Dyer and Ken Hewitt-White have been authoring astronomy guidebooks for 40 years each, and are among Canada’s most experienced amateur astronomers and astronomy authors.
Go to our Contact page to send us an email or connect through social media.