The Backyard Astronomer's Guide - By Terence Dickinson & Alan Dyer - Firefly Books 2002
There are only a very few books that get me excited, that make me want to read every word, and that I would recommend to anyone and everyone.The Backyard Astronomer's Guide is one I'll refer to and recommend often for probably the next 20 years or more.
Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer are both well known authors and writers, and their collaboration on this book is likely to cause The Backyard Astronomer's Guide to be regarded as a classic for a long time to come. At the turn of almost every page, I have been either knocked out by the imagery or illustrations, or I've marveled at the way the clear and concise, even poetic text, takes me to some deeper level of understanding on so many different subjects. It even gave me an image of our solar system's orientation as it relates to the plane of our Milky Way galaxy that I've never seen represented before. I'd wondered what our orientation was on so many occasions over the last 20 years, and in this book, I finally found it! In the plane of our galaxy, we are about 2/3 of the way out from the center to the outer edge. Our solar system's plane is tilted at about 65 to 70 degrees perpendicular to the plane of the galaxy. That's why we see the Milky Way appear differently in the summer versus winter, and it's also why the direction of the Milky Way runs N-S directly overhead at midnight on the first day of summer versus the E-W direction overhead at midnight on the first day of winter.
You name it, you can find out about choosing your first (or even your 10th) telescope or pair of binoculars completely explained. Eyepieces described and illustrated along with valuable suggestions on which to use for whatever you're trying to see. You'll learn how to start into astrophotography using either film or digital cameras along with darkroom and image processing suggestions on your computer. You'll even get suggestions on which astronomy planetarium software programs are best. EVERY subject relating to amateur astronomy is covered with a finese and thoughtfulness that I've seldom seen.
I received my copy (hardback listing for $49.95) as an introductory offer to rejoin the Scientific American Book Club. By itself, this book would have been well worth thrice the $18 I paid for this single selection of the intro offer without the other two included selections. That makes this book, with this offer, for this price, the best deal I've ever received for joining a book club. With the 20% discount that our paid AOAS members can now receive from Books-A-Million, I firmly believe you'll consider it a great deal as well. Why not make this book the first book you use your new 20% BAM discount on. I can almost guarantee that you'll be as enthusiastic about this book as I am. Enjoy!