This is a new section to the site and will have sections and links on all aspects of astronomy
Turn Left at Orion, Guy Consolmagna and Dan Davis
This is one of the first books recommended when a beginner asks on an astronomy newsgroup. It contains hints and tips on how to use a telescope and clear instructions on how to find about 100 night-sky objects.
Exploring the Night Sky with Binoculars, Patrick Moore
Many objects visible in binoculars are listed by constellation in this book. Strange as it may seem, it gives excellent guidance for finding objects for the first time with a small telescope. If you can see an object in binoculars, you should get a much better view through a telescope and with this book you can find the object through your binoculars first. Some telescope retailers give this book away free when you buy a pair of binoculars.
Astronomy Dictionary, Philips (Publishers)
This is a very handy book for finding the difference between your aphelions and your periastrons. It is also handy for finding out how to spell the names of astronomical objects.
Stars, Collins Gem Series
At tiny little book which fits easily into the pocket. It contains star charts for all the constellations with information on many interesting objects.
Celestial Sampler, Sue French
Sue French is a regular contributor to the US magazine, Sky and Telescope. This book is a compilation of 60 articles called “Small Scope Samplers” which she wrote for the magazine. Each article gives an in-depth guide to a small part of the sky, describing objects which can be seen with a 4” telescope.
Guide to the Constellations, Neil Bone (RIP)
This Astronomy Now publication has a chapter for each constellation visible from the UK. Each chapter includes a detailed description and map of each constellation, with a list of the most interesting objects.
Moon Observer’s Guide, Peter Grego
This book covers everything on the Moon from the equipment you need, to lunar geology, to occultations and making drawings of the Moon. The main part of the book is a detailed description of what can be seen on each day of the Lunar cycle, 62 pages to cover 28 days!
ASTRONOMY FOR DUMMIES, STEPHEN P. MARAN
An accessible guide to the wonders of the night sky, now updated. From asteroids to black holes, from quasars to white dwarfs, this new edition of Astronomy For Dummies takes backyard stargazers on a grand tour of the universe. Featuring star maps, charts, gorgeous full–color photographs, and easy–to–follow explanations, this fact–filled guide gives readers a leg up on the basic principles of astronomy and shows how to get the most out of binoculars, telescopes, planetarium visits, and other fun astronomical activities. This updated edition includes an updated color signature and covers the many discoveries made in recent years, as well as new astronomy Web sites.
Beginner’s Guide to Astronomy, Patrick Moore
This really is a brilliant book for people who are just starting out in the amazing world of astronomy. It is straight foward and easy to understand, with loads of different topics covered, so there is something for every-one.
PHILIP’S STARGAZING 2012, HEATHER COOPER, NIGEL HENBEST
Philip’s Stargazing 2012 is a concise guide to the northern night sky, helping starwatchers to see the year’s most fascinating events, whether observing with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope. The guide is suitable for use between latitudes 40 N and 60 N, including Britain and Ireland. Each chapter (one for each month of the year) has a colour star map, created by Wil Tirion, showing the positions and phases of the Moon, the positions of the planets, and other useful information. Each month also includes a constellation described in detail; special events during the month, such as eclipses; a featured astronomical object, usually a deep-sky target; plus an astrophotograph, with details of how it was taken.
There are many magazines related to astronomy available in the UK. Here is a list of some of the most popular. These are in no particular order. Most of these publications offer subscriptions for regular readers.
SKY AT NIGHT MAGAZINE
SKY AND TELESCOPE
Stars, Collins Gem Series
Don’t forget this tiny little book which fits easily into the pocket. It contains star charts for all the constellations with information on many interesting objects. There are many small star chart books like this but some contain far more information than you need when you are out using a telescope. Its size makes this one a winner.
The Observer’s Sky Atlas, E. Karkoschka
Another really useful little book, this one has 32 charts covering the whole sky with almost 100 smaller charts showing the view through a finder scope for all 110 Messier objects and another 140 deep sky objects not in the Messier catalogue. On the page opposite each chart, the author has listed information on each deep sky object and shows the instruments and observing conditions needed to see each on. It also lists information on hundreds of variable and double stars.
The Cambridge Star Atlas, Wil Tirion
The main part of this book consists of 20 charts of the whole sky showing stars to magnitude 6.5 and hundreds of deep sky objects. There are several other similar books of charts, including The Bright Star Atlas by Tirion and Skiff and Norton’s Star Atlas edited by Ridpath.
Atlas of the Night Sky, Storm Dunlop
This is a fairly new book with 20 charts similar to those mentioned above. In addition, it has a larger scale chart for each constellation, showing stars to magnitude 8.5 with detailed descriptions of interesting double stars, variable stars and deep sky objects. The star charts are by Wil Tirion, but the most striking part of this book is in the incredibly detailed charts of the Moon which were drawn by Antonin Rukl, the leading lunar cartographer of the day.
Star charts for the expert deep sky enthusiast.
If you are a deep sky expert, you will know about these, I have only seen pictures of them in catalogues. You may need a bank loan to buy some of them.
A huge variety of astronomy software is available to buy and also as freeware and shareware on the internet.
The following two websites give lists of astronomy software available to download or buy:
Cartes du Ciel is one of the best programs, The basic version is pretty comprehensive and the Help section does what it says. You can print out your own sky charts showing any patch of the sky you want to with as much detail in the stars as you need. There are many add-ons which make it very powerful but it functions very well without these.
Stellarium It is not as detailed as Cartes du Ciel but is more picturesque. It has few deep sky objects beyond the Messier list and you need to learn the keyboard shortcuts as it is not menu-driven.
Celestia is a “tour of the universe” type of program, allowing you to fly around in space.