Suggested Reading List
Astronomy: A Beginner's Guide to the Universe, 4th Edition
Author: Chaisson and McMillan
Description: For one-semester Introduction to Astronomy courses.The authors incorporate three themes in the briefer of their two textbooks; process of science (how we know what we know), the size and scale of the universe as well as the evolution of the universe. A Beginner's Guide emphasizes critical thinking and visualization, and a leading-edge technology program.
Customer review: "For anyone who has a vague interest in astronomy, this would be the book to read. Albeit not entirely simple, this is a relatively straight forward book that uses excellent examples to explain difficult concepts. There are many charts and diagrams. How exactly does a black hole work? What's the difference between a nova and a supernova (not as simple as you might think)? Why do we get meteor showers? There is a bit of mathematics involved, but nothing too intimidating. This is an excellent textbook. Best of all, a CD-ROM is included with lots of multimedia content, study questions, and links to more sources."
NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe
Author: Terence Dickinson
Description: With 250,000 copies in print since its initial publication in 1983, NightWatch has become a standard reference guide for stargazers throughout North America.
The new Third Edition expands on that success with a completely revised and updated text, more than 100 new color photos and diagrams and 16 additional pages that cover such! new astronomical pursuits as computerized telescopes, reviews of new telescope designs and accessories, and astronomy on the Internet.
All charts, tables and diagrams have been updated and, in some cases, redesigned for easier use. Improved spacecraft measurements of the distances to the stars (recently released by the European Space Agency) are included in the charts, along with additional observing tips for stargazers using binoculars and telescopes. An expanded chapter on Astrophotography lists the best modern films and cameras for skyshooting.
The new NightWatch is faithful to the "ultra-simplified, no jargon" philosophy of the original, and at the same time, offers substantially more practical information for the novice and intermediate-level amateur astronomer. The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada called the first edition "the best of its kind"- the new Third Edition is better still. It is still an abundantly illustrated, wide-sized volume designed for easy reference during many starlit nights."
Amazon review: "The third edition of Nightwatch continues its tradition of being the best handbook for the beginning astronomer. Terence Dickinson covers all the problems beginners face, starting with the fact that the night sky does not look the way a modern city-dweller expects. He discusses light pollution, how to choose binoculars and telescopes, how to pronounce the names of stars and constellations, telescope mounts, averted vision, and why the harvest moon looks especially bright. Most of the lovely photographs in the book were taken by amateurs, which gives the section on astrophotography a particularly inspirational gleam."