July 9, 2016

A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets

Fourth Edition Jay M. Pasachoff

The 16th printing (the number 16 appears at the base of the copyright page), with eclipse 2017 material (the medallion on the cover says “Includes 2017 eclipse images”) and many tables updated for the next decade, was published in January 2019.  The publisher’s website is at:
and the amazon.com website is at:

Related Links | Equipment | Hubble Space Telescope | Updates and Errata | Reviews



Pasachoff, Jay M., and Alex Filippenko. 2014. The Cosmos: Astronomy in the New Millennium, 4th edition. Cambridge University Press. A shorter text. Cambridge University Press


Pasachoff, Jay M. 2014. Peterson First Guide to Astronomy, 2nd edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. A short, simple introduction to astronomy, illustrated entirely in color. Includes simplified monthly sky maps and drawings of mythological constellation figures.


Arnold, H. J. P., P. Doherty, and P. Moore. 1997. The Photographic Atlas of the Stars. Bristol, UK: Institute of Physics

Audouze, Jean, and Guy Israël. 1994. Cambridge Atlas of Astronomy, 3rd ed. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Cragin, Murray, James Lucyk, and Barry Rappaport. 1993. The Deep Sky Field Guide to Uranometria 2000.0. Richmond, VA: Willmann-Bell.

Hirshfeld, Alan, and Roger W. Sinnott, and François Ochsenbein. 1991 (vol.1); Alan Hirshfeld and Roger W. Sinnott 1985 (vol. 2). Sky Catalogue 2000.0, 2nd ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Sky Publishing Corp. Volume 1 is a list of stars; volume 2 provides lists of double stars, variable stars, galaxies, clusters, nebulae, and other objects. All positions are precessed to epoch 2000.0.

Meeus, Jean. 1998. Astronomical Tables of the Sun, Moon, and Planets, 2nd ed. Richmond, Va.: Willmann-Bell. Lists of astronomical phenomena, including planetary oppositions and conjunctions, eclipses, transits, etc.

Ridpath, Ian, ed. 1998. Norton’s star atlas and reference handbook (epoch 2000.0). 19th ed. Longman. The old standard, updated.

Ridpath, Ian. 1998. Eyewitness Handbooks: Stars and Planets. DK Publishing.

Sinnott, Roger W., ed. 1988. NGC 2000.0: the complete new general catalogue and index catalogues of nebulae and star clusters. Cambridge, Mass.: Sky Publishing Corp. and New York: Cambridge University Press. A centennial reissue of Dreyer’s work with updated data.

Sinnott, Roger W., ed. 1997. The Millennium Star Atlas. Cambridge, MA: Sky Publishing Corp., and European Space Agency.

Tirion, Wil, 1996. Cambridge Star Atlas, 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press. A naked eye star atlas in full color. A moon map, twenty four monthly sky maps, 20 detailed star charts, and six all-sky maps.

Tirion, Wil, and Sinnott, Roger W. 1998. Sky Atlas 2000.0, 2nd ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Sky Publishing Corp. and New York: Cambridge University Press. Twenty-eight large-scale star charts, showing over 80,000 stars, down to magnitude 8.55 and about 2,700 deep-sky objects.The Atlas comes in three versions: white stars on black background for use outside, black stars on white background for use indoors, and colors on white background (deluxe). The first two versions are available as spiral-bound laminated charts.

Vehrenberg, Hans. 1984. Atlas of Deep Sky Splendors. 4th ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Sky Publishing Corp. and New York: Cambridge University Press. Color and black-and-white photographs, at a uniform scale, of the most interesting parts of the sky. Includes close-ups of Messier and other objects.


Bishop, Roy L., ed. Observer’s Handbook (published annually). Toronto: Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. A popular guide to sky objects and events, available from the society at 136 Dupont Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5R 1V2.

Bone, Neil. 1998. Meteors, Comets, Supernovae: Observing Transient Phenomena. Springer-Verlag.

Burnham, Robert, Jr. 1980. Burnham’s Celestial Handbook. 3 vols. New York: Dover. Detailed constellation-by-constellation discussions, with photographs of a wide variety of objects. Out of print, but still a standard reference.

Chartrand, Mark R., III. 1990. Skyguide. New York: Golden Press. Observing hints and constellation maps, with beautiful illustrations by Helmut K. Wimmer.

Chartrand, Mark R., III. , and Wil Tirion. 1995. The Audubon Society Field Guide to the Night Sky, revised. New York: Knopf. [The imprimatur of the Audubon Society for this series of books is purchased as a license to use their name. The actual book is put together by a packager, Chanticleer Press.]

Clark, Roger N. 1991. Visual Astronomy of the Deep Sky. New York: Cambridge University Press. How and what to observe.

Coe, Steven R. 2000. Deep Sky Observing: The Astronomical Tourist (Patrick Moore’s Practical Astronomy Series). London: Springer. General discussions plus lots of specific objects described on double-page spreads with charts, photos, and sketches.

Dickinson, Terence. 1998. Nightwatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe, 3rd ed. Willowdale, Ontario, Canada: Firefly Books.

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

Enright, Leo. 1999. The Beginner’s Observing Guide. Toronto: Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Harrington, Philip S. 1990. Touring the Universe Through Binoculars. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Harrington, Philip S. 1997. Eclipse! The What, Where, When, Why, and How Guide to Watching Solar and Lunar Eclipses. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Harrington, Philip S. 1998. The Deep Sky: An Introduction. Cambridge, MA: Sky Publishing Corp.

Harrington, Philip S. 1998. Starware: The amateur astronomer’s ultimate guide to choosing, buying, and using telescopes and accessories. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Jones, Kenneth Glyn. 1991. Messier’s Nebulae and Star Clusters, 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press. Messier‚s catalogue, discussed one by one.

Kepple, George R., and Glen W. Sanner. 1999. Sky Observer’s Guide (2 vols.). Richmond, VA: Willmann-Bell.

Kitchen, Chris, and Robert W. Forrest. 1998. Seeing Stars: The Night Sky Through Small Telescopes. Springer-Verlag.

Levy, David H. 1998. Observing Variable Stars: A Guide for the Beginner. Cambridge University Press.

Levy, David H. 1993. The Sky: A User’s Guide. New York: Cambridge University Press. An introduction to observing.

Meeus, Jean. 1989. Transits. Richmond, VA: Willmann-Bell.

Newton, Jack, and Philip Teece. 1995. Guide to Amateur Astronomy, 2nd ed. New York: Cambridge University Press.

North, Gerald. 1997. Advanced Amateur Astronomy. Cambridge University Press.

O’Meara, Stephen James, and David H. Levy. 1998. The Messier Objects. Cambridge University Press.

Pennington, Harvard. 1999. The Year-Round Messier Marathon Field Guide. Richmond, VA: Willmann-Bell.

Rey, H. A., updated by Jay M. Pasachoff, 1989. The Stars: A New Way to See Them. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Nontraditional constellation outlines, drawn to resemble actual objects more than the usual ways that stars are connected.

Rhoads, Samuel E. The Sky Tonight: A Guided Tour of the Stras Over Hawai’i. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press. Nice constellation-figure overlays. Suitable for equatorial latitudes.

Webb Society Deep-Sky Observer’s Handbook, Hillside, NJ 07205: Enslow Publishers, vol. 1: Double Stars, 2nd ed., 1986; vol. 2: Planetary and Gaseous Nebulae, 1979; vol. 3: Open and Globular Clusters, 1980; vol. 4: Galaxies, 1981; vol. 5: Clusters of Galaxies, 1982; vol. 6: Anonymous Galaxies, 1987; vol. 7: The Southern Sky, 1987; vol. 8: Variable Stars, 1990. All out of print.

Most of these publications are available from Sky Publishing Corp., 90 Sherman Street, Cambridge, Mass. 02140-3264, (800) 253-0245, Willmann-Bell, Inc., P.O. Box 35025, Richmond, Va. 23235, (800) 825-STAR, and through standard booksellers like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, and so on.

Astronomical Calendar (yearly). The changing sky and astronomical events such as eclipses. Available from Guy Ottewell, Astronomical Workshop, Furman University, Greenville, S.C. 29613.

Solar Eclipses
International Astronomical Union’s Working Group on Solar Eclipses

Fred Espenak’s eclipse site


Sky Calendar (monthly). Easy-to-use diagrams of the moon’s phases and its daily changes in position against the starry background, plus diagrams of planetary conjunctions with bright stars, with the moon, and with other planets. Available by subscription from Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI. 48824.

Skywatcher’s Almanac (yearly). Computer-generated information on the visibility of the sun, moon, and other objects, tailored for the individual observer at a given latitude. Available from the Astronomical Data Service, 3922 Leisure Lane, Colorado Springs, CO. 80917.


Astronomy(monthly). Monthly sky features and articles summarizing different fields of astronomy in lay terms. 21027 Crossroads Circle, P.O. Box 1612, Waukesha, WI 53187, (800) 446 5489.

Sky & Telescope (monthly). The standard journal for amateur observers; includes popular articles on astronomical topics and sky events, in addition to regular monthly features. For subscription information go to skyandtelescope.com, call (800) 253 0245.

Mercury (bimonthly). Published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 390 Ashton Ave., San Francisco, CA 94112.

Muse (10 times a year). For children. Published by Cobblestone Publishing, Inc., 7926 Jones Branch Drive, Suite 870, McLean, VA 22102 or call (800) 821-0115.

StarDate (bimonthly). Published by the McDonald Observatory, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712 (800) STAR-DATE. 

Planetary Report. Published by The Planetary Society, 65 North Catalina Ave., Pasadena, CA 91106; [email protected]



Chromey, Frederik R. 2016. To Measure the SkyCambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Warner, Brian D. 2016. A Practical Guide to Lightcurve Photometry and Analysis. Springer-Verlag.


Sky and Telescope publishes lists of planetariums, observatories, clubs, and societies in its September issues.

American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO), 49 Bay State Rd. Cambridge, MA 02138. [email protected]. Finding charts on line, in addition to a wide variety of other information.

American Meteor Society.

The Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers.

The Astronomical League, the umbrella group of amateur societies. 

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 390 Ashton Ave., San Francisco, Calif. 94112.

British Astronomical Association, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1V 9AG, England.

International Dark-Sky Association, 3223 N. First Ave., Tucson, AZ 85719. [email protected].

The Planetary Society, 60 South Los Robles Ave., Pasadena, CA 91101. [email protected].

Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, 203-4920 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON, M9A 1B7, Canada. [email protected].


American Astronomical Society, 1667 K Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20006. For information on “Careers in Astronomy,” https://aas.org/learn/careers-astronomy/.

For problems or questions contact:  [email protected]