University Lowbrow Astronomers

University Lowbrow Astronomers Book List
Intermediate Book List

by Dave Snyder

This is a list of intermediate astronomy books and magazines that belong to one or more of the following:

This is not a complete list; instead it is a sample of astronomy books in these categories. Some of these texts contain bibliographies that contain other references.


Amateur Astronomy. [Published Quarterly - Tom Clark].

Astronomy. [Published Monthly - Kalmbach Publishing].

Reflections of the University Lowbrow Astronomers. [Published Monthly - The University Lowbrow Astronomers.]

Sky & Telescope. [Published Monthly - Sky Publishing].


------. 2004. Scientific American Special Edition: The Secret Lives of Stars. Volume 14, Number 4.

A series of articles describing various aspects of stellar dynamics written for a general audience.

Beatty, J. Kelley, Peterson, Carolyn Collins and Chaikin, Andrew, editors. 1999. The New Solar System. 4th edition. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Sky Publishing Corporation.

A detailed examination of the solar system. In recent years our view of the solar system has changed, and as the title suggests, this book explains this new view. The book is filled with numerous color photographs and charts.

Becvár, Antonín. 1958. Atlas of the Heavens 1950.0. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Sky Publishing Corp.

Star Atlas.

Bless, R. C. 1996. Discovering the Cosmos. Sausalito, California: University Science Books.

One of the textbooks used in the introductory astronomy courses at the University of Michigan.

Bone, Neil. 1993. Sky & Telescope Observer’s Guides: Meteors. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Sky Publishing Corp.

This book contains a wealth of information on what meteors are, and how and when to observe them.

Carlson, Shawn, editor. 2001. Scientific American: The Amateur Astronomer. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Thirty projects from the Scientific American “Amateur Scientist” column.

Covington, Michael A. 1999. Astrophotography for the Amateur. 2nd edition. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

Cragin, Murray, et al. 1993. The Deep Sky Guide to the Uranometria 2000.0. Richmond, Virginia: Willmann-Bell, Inc.

Catalog to go along with [Tirion, et. al., 1987].

Croswell, Ken. 2003. Magnificent Mars. New York: The Free Press (A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.).

An impressive collection of color photographs and color diagrams tell the story of Mars. Croswell discusses the geology and atmosphere of Mars using these photographs, and discusses the possibility that Mars had water in its distant past and may still have water (in the form of ice).

Dickinson, Terence and Dyer, Alan. 2002. The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide. 2nd edition. Willowdale, Ontario, Canada: Firefly Books.

A thorough guide to all aspects of amateur astronomy.

Dickinson, Terrence and Newton, Jack. 1997. Splendors of the Universe: A Practical Guide to Photographing the Night Sky. Willowdale, Ontario: Firefly Books.

Garfinkle, Robert. 1994. Star-Hopping: Your Vista to Viewing the Universe. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

Explains with numerous examples how to use “star-hopping” with a telescope to locate many interesting objects. There are some examples for each month of the year.

Goodstein, David L. and Goodstein, Judith, R. 1996. Feynman’s Lost Lecture: The Motion of Planets Around the Sun. New York: W. W. Norton and Company.

Richard Feynman was part of the Physics faculty at the California Institute of Technology where he made important contributions to physics. Feynman was great teacher, however he taught undergraduates rarely: during an introductory physics class from 1961-1963 and in the occasional guest lecture, but at no other time. Nevertheless he gained a reputation as an exceptional explainer as a result of these classes and lectures. This book is a reconstruction of a lecture he gave to an undergraduate physics class; the subject was how and why planets orbit the sun. Instead of using calculus to explain this (they way most instructors would do), Dr. Feynman limited himself to high school geometry. The book includes a short biography of Richard Feynman and an audio CD.

Kelly, Patrick, editor. 2008. Observer’s Handbook 2009. Toronto, Ontario: Thistle Printing Limited.

Contains charts and text for a variety of areas of astronomical observing (including times, locations and other useful information). It primarily covers solar system objects (the planets, meteor showers, comets, asteroids and so on) but has a few sections on stars, nebulae, galaxies and the Messier objects. A new edition is published each year.

Harrington, Philip S. 1990. Touring the Universe through Binoculars: A Complete Astronomer’s Guidebook. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

A guide to amateur astronomy using binoculars. Covers the moon, the planets, stars and a variety of deep sky objects.

------. 2002. Star Ware. 3rd edition. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Information on telescopes and other astronomy equipment.

Hirshfeld, Alan and Sinnott, Roger W., editors. 1997. Sky Catalog 2000.0, Volume 2: Double Stars, Variable Stars and Nonstellar Objects. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Sky Publishing Corporation.


Hofflet, Dorrit. 1964. Bright Star Catalog: Containing Data Compiled Through 1962. Saint Paul, Minnesota: Twin City Graphics Proton, Inc.


Illingworth, Valerie, editor. 1994. The Facts on File Dictionary of Astronomy. 3rd edition. United Kingdom: Facts on File.

Kaufmann, William J. III and Freedman, Roger A. 2007. Universe. Eighth edition. New York: W. H. Freeman and Company.

One of the textbooks used in the introductory astronomy courses at the University of Michigan. An excellent introduction to the subject. The authors cover history, the solar system, gravitation, stars, galaxies, black holes and cosmology. The text is filled with numerous photographs, guest essays. It comes with a CD-ROM disk containing astronomy software.

Kepple, George Robert and Sanner, Glen W, editors. 1999. The Night Sky Observer’s Guide. Richmond, Virginia: Willmann-Bell, Inc.

This guide comes in two volumes: Volume 1: Autumn & Winter; and Volume 2: Spring & Summer. The two volumes cover 5541 objects with particular emphasis on galaxies, nebulae and clusters. It is aimed at amateurs with reflecting telescopes between 8 and 18 inches (however there is adequate information for telescopes as small as 2 inches). Most of the double and variable stars are collected in lists. However some double and variable stars and all of the galaxies, nebulae and clusters have one or more paragraphs that describe how the object appears in a telescope with a specific aperture. A number of sketches and black and white photographs are included. The quality of the descriptions varies depending on which contributor wrote a given section. Volume 1 contains a short introduction to astronomy.

Kriege, David and Berry, Richard. 1998. The Dobsonian Telescope: A Practical Manual for Building Large Aperture Telescopes. Richmond, Virginia: Willmann-Bell, Inc.

Maor, Eli. 2000. June 8, 2004: Venus in Transit. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Transits of Venus (when Venus passes between the Sun and the Earth) occur once or twice a century. The author describes the mechanics of a transit (some very simple mathematics is used to explain the timing of the transits). He then explains why astronomers in the 1700’s thought observing Venus transits were so important: numerous astronomers devoted years of effort to observing these fleeting and rare events. This is a human story of success and failure which continued over the next two hundred years. The fact the ultimate goal, determination of the distance between the sun and earth, was not achieved by observing Venus shows that science does not always proceed in a predictable fashion. However unexpected new knowledge came out of these efforts.

Manly, Peter L. 1995. Unusual Telescopes. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

O’Meara, Stephen James. 1998. Deep-Sky Companions: The Messier Objects. Cambridge, United Kingdom: The Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge and Sky Publishing Corporation.

A description of each of the 109 Messier objects plus a number of other objects Messier should have included in his catalog.

O’Shea, Donald C. 1985. Elements of Modern Optical Design. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Ottewell, Guy, et al. 2001. Astronomical Calendar 2002. Greenville, South Carolina: The Universal Workshop (Department of Physics, Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina).

Oversize soft-cover book with charts and text for a variety of areas of astronomical observing (including times, locations and other useful information). It primarily covers solar system objects (the planets, meteor showers, comets, asteroids and so on), however mentions a few unusual stars, clusters, nebulae and galaxies. A new edition is published each year.

Plait, Philip. 2002. Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing “Hoax.” New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Price, Fred W. 2000. The Planet Observer’s Handbook. 2nd edition. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

Reeves, Robert. 2000. Wide-Field Astrophotography: Exposing the Universe Starting With a Common Camera. Richmond, Virginia: Willmann-Bell, Inc.

Rükl, Antonín. 2004. Atlas of the Moon. Revised updated edition. Gary Seronik, editor. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Sky Publishing Corporation.

Rutten, Harrie G. J., and Van Venrooij, Martin A. M. 1988. Telescope Optics: Complete Manual for Amateur Astronomers. Richmond, Virginia: Willmann-Bell, Inc.

Sandage, Allan and Bedke, John. 1988. Atlas of Galaxies. Washington, D. C.: NASA.

Oversize book filled with black and white photos of galaxies. The photos are accompanied with some descriptive text.

Schaaf, Fred. 1992. Seeing the Deep Sky: Telescopic Projects Beyond the Solar System. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

For more information: Paul Walkowski. February, 2000. “Seeing the Deep Sky by Fred Schaaf: a Book Review by Paul Walkowski.” Reflections of the University Lowbrow Astronomers.

Scientific American, the editors of. 1999. The Scientific American Book of Astronomy. New York: Lyons Press.

Articles on Black Holes, Extraterrestrial Life, Galactic Explosions, Gamma-Ray Bursters and much more.

Strong, Robert A. 1994. Sky Atlas 2000.0 Companion. The Essential Guide for Locating Deep Sky Objects. Piermont, New York: Robert A. Strong.

Catalog to go along with [Tirion, 1991].

Suiter, Harold Richard. 2003. Star Testing Astronomical Telescopes: A Manual for Optical Evaluation and Adjustment. Richmond, Virginia: Willmann-Bell, Inc.

Tirion, Wil. 1991. Sky Atlas 2000.0. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Sky Publishing Corporation.

Star Atlas.

Tirion, Wil, et al. 1987. Uranometria 2000.0: Volume 1 - The Northern Hemisphere to -6°. Richmond, Virginia: Willmann-Bell, Inc.

Star Atlas.

Vehrenberg, Hans. 1978. Atlas of Deep Sky Splendors. 3rd edition. Dusseldorf: Treugesell-Verlag.

Black and white photographs. Each photograph has associated text.

Walker, Jearl. 1977. The Flying Circus of Physics with Answers. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

I don’t think I can do better than what is written on the back cover: “This original, offbeat book is a collection of problems and questions about physics in the real, everyday world. The questions focus on relevant, fun phenomena—like Frisbees, sounds of thunder, rainbows, sand dunes, soap bubbles. And they involve familiar objects considered in imaginative, unconventional ways—rubber bands, ski goggles, water pipes, eggs, teapots, Coke bottles. It’s a new way to learn, to appreciate basic science by thinking about questions you may not have thought of!”

A few of these offbeat questions involve astronomy (which is why the book is included here).

Don’t be fooled however, even though the questions may be offbeat, the answers to these questions involve a variety of real physics, the answers to some are still not completely understood. The first edition of the book did not include answers, but this edition includes both complete references and answers for each question.

Wilson, Brent. 1993. Finder Charts of the Messier Objects: Volume 1 - M1 through M55. Bountiful, Utah: Sky Spot.

This and the other four books in this set are indispensable if one wants to locate objects with a Telrad. They can be obtained via an order blank which is included with new Telrads.

------. 1993. Finder Charts of the Messier Objects: Volume 2 - M56 through M110. Bountiful, Utah: Sky Spot.

------. 1994. Finder Charts of Overlooked Objects. Bountiful, Utah: Sky Spot.

------. 1995. Finder Charts of Bright Telescopic Objects. Bountiful Utah: Sky Spot.

------. 2002. Finder Charts of Select Double Stars. Bountiful Utah: Sky Spot.

Weinberg, Steven. 1988. The First Three Minutes: A Modern View of the Origin of the Universe, Updated Edition. New York: Basic Books.

Additional Intermediate Book Lists

Additional intermediate astronomy books can be found on the following pages:


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