11 Best Astronomy Books Revealed

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The stars and planets have captured children’s imaginations for centuries, and some retain this fascination with space to adulthood. This is a reason why books about the final frontier are so popular.

Astronomy books come in different types and are geared toward various reading levels, from basic books to advanced titles. Here are some of the best astronomy books, which are available everywhere. Read on to find out more.

“The Secret World of Stargazing,” by Adrian West

Astronomy isn’t just educational, it’s an activity that can benefit your wellbeing, and Adrian West knows this intimately. This book guides you through the basics of astronomy and describes how stargazing improves your mental and physical health. It’s a slightly unusual topic for an astronomy book, but you won’t regret picking it up.

West doesn’t bother with technical jargon to confuse beginner astronomy lovers – he keeps everything simple and easy to understand. Newcomers often aren’t ready to dip into the complicated aspects of astronomy, so having a book catered to their beginner mindset helps immensely. Seasoned astronomers can also appreciate the straightforward approach that may remind them of the innocence they used to feel in the past.

You’ll learn to prepare for stargazing trips for every season of the year, what to look for in the night sky, and how to spot celestial objects. West covers meteor showers, comets, moon phases, and every hemisphere. There are also stories of the mythology that serves as the basis of the constellations to keep things interesting

By the time you finish this book, you’ll gain a new appreciation for stargazing and astronomy in a way you may have previously never considered. If you get frustrated with the hobby, consider reading this book to regain a sense of perspective.

“The Science of Interstellar,” by Kip Thorne

The 2014 film “Interstellar,” directed by Christopher Nolan, was a beautiful movie that introduced the audience to a failing Earth. The main characters then travel across the galaxy with the help of NASA’s newest technology. They do this through a wormhole and experience incredible things.

Even though the plot is fictional, the concepts of space travel, wormholes, and warped space-time are based on scientific principles. Nolan also hired Kip Throne as a science advisor, and his book The Science of Interstellar delves into these topics. You’ll understand the movie better after this read.

Thorne lets readers in on some behind-the-scenes processes, explaining how the movie was conceived and developed. Interstellar travel and other strange space phenomena are all covered. With vivid language, Throne also brings all these abstract concepts to life.

Astrophysics is a field most people don’t understand, but the author manages to guide you through it gently. Despite the subject, there aren’t many equations, but the few in the book are complex. Thorne is careful to note what’s merely speculation and what’s fact without confusing you.

This book isn’t recommended for novice readers, as Thorne goes deep into physics discussions and formulas. However, it’s also geared toward people who have watched the film.

Readers looking forward to learning about time travel paradoxes may also be disappointed even though it’s a crucial plot point in the movie. Unfortunately, Thorne doesn’t talk about it as much. Nevertheless, this book is entertaining and enlightening if you’re a fan of Nolan’s award-winning film.

“Constellations: The Story of Space Told Through the 88 Known Star Patterns in the Night Sky,” by Govert Schilling

Our night sky contains at least 88 known constellations. The book is the product of Govert Schilling’s extensive work in astronomy. It also features Wil Tirion’s beautiful cartography. Both men are masters of their craft and have won awards in their respective fields.

Schilling is your tour guide, leading you through each constellation and its detailed information such as size, visibility, and how many stars comprise it. Of course, you can’t have a comprehensive book about constellations without mentioning the legends and stories that gave them their names. You’ll walk away with a functional knowledge of all 88 constellations.

Knowing about these star patterns is standard fare, but Schilling doesn’t stop there. He even includes every astronomical event and significant discovery made around each constellation. For example, astronomers discovered the first gamma-ray burst known to science in Orion.

Meanwhile, Tirion’s cartography skills capture each constellation’s exact details and location. Some neighboring celestial objects are also included to provide locational context.

Each constellation is listed in alphabetical order. Therefore, you can quickly flip to the specific pattern you’re looking for.

This book is a must-have in your collection, particularly for those who enjoy stargazing.

“Missions to Mars,” by Larry S. Crumpler

Few planets have captured the interest of scientists, billionaires, and children as Mars. Elon Musk and many others in the space industry have declared similar goals of colonizing the Red Planet. This book, by Dr. Larry S. Crumpler, chronicles the Mars Exploration Rover Project, which is widely considered a major scientific accomplishment.

Before Musk’s made it his mission to make Mars a human colony, humanity had long dreamed of exploring the celestial frontier. Dr. Crumpler documents the ancient efforts to learn about space and modern technological advances. In addition, you can find some of the first images the most recent Mars Rover Perseverance sent back.

Dr. Crumpler was one of the scientists who worked on the Rover Project, and you’re treated to a firsthand account of what went into sending these rovers to Mars.

In January 2004, Spirit and Opportunity made history and were the first rovers to land on the Red Planet. Scientists like Dr. Crumpler had expected the two to stay functional for only 90 days, but no one could have predicted 15 years of service. Nevertheless, the data these rovers and others gathered helped Dr. Crumpler and his team reconstruct Mars’ ancient past when it had seas and possibly nurtured microbial life.

From the data the Rover Project transmitted over the years, we know that Mars used to have much more water on the surface. Then, after intense climate change, the planet became red and arid and has the appearance we now know today.

Mars may still have a living ecosystem today, which is what Dr. Crumpler and his team have been trying to prove.

Astronomers who have a soft spot for Mars will find this book a joy to read. There’s no better person to learn from than Dr. Crumpler.

“Moongazing: Beginners Guide to Exploring the Moon,” by Tom Kerss

Aside from Mars, our moon is also the subject of exploration. Scientists have gathered plenty of data thanks to the Apollo missions and high-power telescopes. Tom Kerss’ book will teach you everything you need to know about the moon and the Apollo missions.

In addition to some fun facts, this book contains information about lunar photography. Taking pictures of the moon isn’t straightforward, but both smartphones and DSLR cameras are capable of it. Additionally, you get clear photographs of the surface and its features, all invisible to the naked eye.

While we know what the moon looks like, not everyone has seen a detailed atlas. Kerss includes a large atlas that divides the moon into 16 sections. A section covers lunar surface features and their categorization to complement the map. It helps you make sense of the lunar atlas even more.

Many astronomers enjoy using telescopes to see the moon’s surface in greater detail. Unfortunately, many don’t know where to start, so Kerss includes a guide to purchasing a good telescope for moon-gazing.

This book is the only Royal Observatory Greenwich-approved guide to the moon, released on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo landings. Both amateur and seasoned astronomers will enjoy the title.

“The Sun: A Very Short Introduction,” by Philip Judge

Part of Oxford University Press’s Very Short Introductions series, this book is one of many meant to introduce new subjects to young students and above. These books are all the work of experts in their field, allowing you to get your feet wet before diving into complex subjects. In this case, you’ll be learning about the sun.

Our sun is the nearest star to Earth, and it’s not wrong to call it the source of life on our planet. The light and warm radiation are what helped life develop and thrive. In addition, the sun directly influences the weather, contributing to bountiful harvests or natural disasters.

The sun also releases solar storms and bursts of energy capable of crippling our satellite arrays. Nevertheless, we can’t survive without it.

Philip Judge introduces readers to the basics of solar science. Then, he’ll discuss why sunspots form and exist, among other questions you might have.

Learning more about the sun gives readers a better insight into how the Solar System and other stars work. If there’s ever life found outside Earth, it may be because they have a sun like ours.

“Astrophysics for People in a Hurry,” by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s wit and humor have earned him many fans, and his book “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” perfectly captures his famous style. Space, time, the universe – deGrasse Tyson will guide you through all these topics in layman’s terms.

The answers to complicated things can also be hard to understand. That’s why the book includes examples to help readers wrap their minds around concepts many struggle to understand. Everything you need to know about astrophysics and what we already know is in here.

Since science and history are often related, deGrasse Tyson includes some brief background information designed to stimulate our learning. That way, readers catching a train or plane can absorb the information without feeling bored.

Critics have mentioned how the book feels a tad too autobiographical at points and that it’s not very suitable for beginners. True, the language is advanced and may be beyond the scope of people who just want a casual read. But the topics covered are a selection of many within astrophysics, so it’s natural some people find it either lacking or too advanced.

Despite these shortcomings, it’s impossible to deny learning about black holes, quantum mechanics, and other space information is more entertaining with some of deGrasse Tyson’s humor and charm.

Reading through this book in one sitting is possible, but the text is designed to let owners pick up and continue where they left off before. Of course, you can also flip to any chapter and start reading.

astronomy book

“Cosmos,” by Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” is a fantastic work for those looking for a general introduction to the universe. It complements the famous TV show of the same name. While Sagan passed away in 1996, the book has been through several revisions and now has a new foreword by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Starting with the beginning of the universe, Sagan brings readers through a journey in time all the way to what the future may be. Besides the stars, you also learn about biology and the human brain without being overwhelmed by the data.

Reading through the book has helped many people unify many subjects thought to be unrelated, from science to religion to politics. Sagan does this without bias, and you get to peer inside his thought processes.

While touching on the various subjects, Sagan is careful not to let anything cloud his mind. Instead, he tries to have an open perspective.

Carl Sagan intended for his book to be a crash course on the universe while helping you combine the disciplines of the world. As a result, you’ll walk away with a new appreciation of life on Earth and beyond.

Cosmos isn’t a straightforward book, but it can profoundly affect you. Thus, it’s considered one of the best books for learning astronomy.

“A Brief History of Time,” by Stephen Hawking

The late Stephen Hawking had ALS, which kept him wheelchair-bound and limited his communication to a text-to-speech device. However, it never limited his extraordinary mind; he conducted extensive research on theoretical physics, culminating with this book.

The story behind “A Brief History of Time” was that Hawking wanted to write about time, but he had to sell books too. After presenting the idea to his literary agent, he was told this mission was impossible. Despite this, he would not only complete the book but rewrite and revise the content several times. As a result, it stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for 147 weeks and 237 weeks on the Times of London bestseller list.

Theoretical physics is already full of abstraction and theory, but Hawking makes it less alien to his audience. Known for his humor, he would use that and many examples to drive the concepts home. The plain language helped the book sell at least 10 million copies.

Hawking’s editors forced him to simplify everything until even they, non-scientists, could understand the idea. In the end, Hawking said he regretted the decision despite suffering from many rejections and requests to rewrite passages. In addition, they limited Hawking to discussing a single mathematical equation. He chose E = mc².

But in the end, some people claim that after reading the book, they felt both smarter and dumber than before, an example of what the power of Hawking’s words and editing could do,

Black holes, space-time, and general relativity are covered in this 256-page book. Few other books can surpass it as a primer for learning about the origins of our universe.

“Handprints on Hubble,” by Kathryn D. Sullivan

The Hubble Space Telescope has served humankind for more than 30 years, and it had to receive maintenance somewhere along the journey. One of the astronauts privileged to repair it was Kathryn Sullivan, the first American woman to perform a spacewalk. She recounts her experiences doing so in this book.

Starting with a short account of her early life, Sullivan transitions to her foray into space. She was first an oceanographer before being accepted by NASA. Through her words, you can feel what she felt during liftoff into space and what she saw during her historical spacewalk.

Sullivan had to invent tools and processes to maintain the Hubble Space Telescope. Her quick-thinking work fixed some important mirrors on the telescope, which had to be addressed immediately.

During the mission, Sullivan also had to accept that there was a possibility of not returning to Earth, but nonetheless performed her duties. Her words show the indomitable human spirit brilliantly, and she describes every event in vivid detail as it happened.

Arguably the most important astronomical instrument in Earth’s orbit, the Hubble Space Telescope is crucial to our collective history of forays in space, and Sullivan’s mission helped make it possible. The telescope still captures images and makes discoveries today.

Increasing Knowledge

Books remain one of the best ways to learn about a subject; these are the best astronomy books available now. From stargazing to human missions in space, there’s a title that can interest everyone. You may even recognize some of these names and events even if you’re not an astronomy expert, which can add to the enjoyment.

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