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The 14 Best Astrophotography Books

astrophotography books

I have put together a list of best astrophotography books available today. I own and enjoy most of the astrophotography books on this list, while others are widely recognized resources that I have just not had the time to read it yet.

Whether you are a beginner astrophotographer looking for the basics or one with more experience looking to refine a particular skill, it can help to have resources for reference. Some of these books lean heavily on astronomy as a whole but include information about astrophotography as well. 

So without further adieu, here is my list of the 14 best astrophotography books covering a variety of different topics in the hobby. 

astrophotography books

2 of my favorite astrophotography books that propelled my interest early on (Numbers 3 and 4 on this list).

1. Digital SLR Astrophotography Second Edition, by Michael A. Covington

This book is ideal for beginners starting out with astrophotography., but also proves itself as a great reference source for experienced astrophotographers.

The illustrations in the book present a realistic source of inspiration for what can be done under typical imaging conditions. It is clear that the author understands the art of capturing astrophotography images with a DSLR camera very well. 

This is a great handbook for anyone starting out with a DSLR camera to capture the heavens, at any skill level.

Digital SLR Astrophotography Second Edition, by Michael A. Covington.

It begins with simple projects for beginners like using cameras on tripods. Then it moves onto more advanced projects including telescope photography, as well as introductory research-level of astronomical research.

The book provides an in-depth analysis of astrophotography using a DSLR. It is clear that Michael Covington is well educated on astronomy and astrophotography.

This second edition covers nightscapes, eclipses, operating cameras with star trackers and telescopes, as well as tools for identifying celestial objects to investigate them scientifically.

The image processing is discussed in detail, containing examples from three popular software packages; Nebulosity, Maxim DL, and PixInsight.

Covington provides simple explanations of key concepts and step by step walkthroughs, making it a popular DSLR astrophotography book.

He explains how your equipment works and then offers advice on many practical considerations, like choices for setting-up and testing lenses.

2. Astrophotography Second Edition, by Thierry Legault

“Astrophotography” is practical and easy to read. This book covers topics that include; explanations of the digital process, careful selection of useful equipment, the configuration of the camera, efficient planning of the imaging session, techniques of image acquisition along with image processing, and the significance of a good examination of your results.

Whether you are a beginner in astrophotography or want to improve your technique, this book could be your best guide. The second edition is an update from the original, making updates in equipment and experiences from the author.

Astrophotography Second Edition, by Thierry Legault.

The book begins by explaining simple methods to start in astrophotography.

The focus here is to choose the right tools for the right subject. Next is the matter of planning your photo session.

Legault offers instructions and experiments to determine what would be best suited for the subject at hand. Then the author goes further into photography with a telescope.

All the information to be successful is there, from the proper use of a telescope to the importance of good tracking and creating the best practices in image acquisition.

Legault discusses the subject image processing in a clear manner. He warns against the temptation of pushing the image treatment too far. The danger here is creating artifacts that compromise the integrity of the object which is being photographed.

This book is great for improving your astrophotography images, if you are looking to go beyond the basics. It is a very detailed and informative book, full of math and physics.

However, if you are new to astrophotography, you will easily be able to follow his instructions and take your first steps.

3. The Practical Astronomer Second Edition, by Anton Vamplew

The Practical Astronomer offers a comprehensive guide to discovering and understanding the solar system and beyond. This was one of the first astrophotography books I purchased and was really motivating for me early on. 

The Practical Astronomer is excellent for aspiring astronomers as well as for beginners. This book is well presented, easy to follow, and is full of information. It is a complete introduction to observing and understanding the night sky.

The Practical Astronomer Second Edition, by Anton Vamplew.

The book explains stargazing, how to recognize objects, and describe how they move through the sky at night and throughout the year.

There are step-by-step instructions along with star charts and constellations from all over the globe. The book offers practical advice with naked-eye observation, as well as illustrated instructions to show readers how to set up and use binoculars and telescopes, and take pictures.

The book opens with an explanation of the basics of astronomy, detailing when, where, and how to look at the night sky.

From there the author goes on to cover the necessary equipment and clothing the amateur astronomer will need.

It also includes reviewing optical equipment such as binoculars and telescopes, how they work, and how to use them. There is also a specific section that focuses on photography and covers the “how-to’s” of capturing dazzling images of what you see.

The Practical Astronomer Book

Looking inside of “The Practical Astronomer”. These pages are very worn on my copy. 

This book also contains a solar system chapter with advice on finding and observing planets, as well as objects such as moons, comets, and asteroids. It even includes a section to identify eclipses.

4. The Backyard Astronomers Guide, by Terrance Dickinson and Alan Dyer

The Backyard Astronomers Guide is not about astrophotography specifically, but there are many great astrophotography tips and tricks within it. This was one of the first astronomy books I ever purchased, and it played a large role in my progress and passion for astrophotography.

This book contains over 500 color photographs and illustrations and is definitely one of the most beautiful and user-friendly astronomy books ever produced.

The Backyard Astronomers Guide, by Terrance Dickinson and Alan Dyer.

Many of the photos in this book were taken by fellow Canadian, Alan Dyer. I am a huge fan of his astrophotography work, and the photos in this book will quickly help you understand why.

The authors do a great job providing expert guidance on choosing a telescope, photographing objects in space through a telescope, and many other helpful references. 

Below, is a video discussing the Backyard Astronomers Guide by Late Night Astronomy, and the effect it had on the reader. 

5. The Astrophotography Sky Atlas, by Charles Bracken

This book is good for any experience level. It is a compact, reasonably-priced atlas designed with imaging in mind.

This atlas is well laid out, containing clear printed maps specifically designed to highlight imaging targets. It has seventy full-color charts that cover the entire sky.

The Astrophotography Sky Atlas, by Charles Bracken.

These charts contain stars down to 9th magnitude and over 2,000 deep-sky objects plotted in their correct size and shape, including many nebulae not commonly found in sky atlases.

This book contains many pages with an abundance of useful information on photogenic targets. It is evident from this book that Charles Bracken is very educated and has lots of imaging experience.

This book is an excellent atlas making it a must-have for an on-hands approach. This book highlights many key aspects such as:

  • 416 emission nebulae and supernova remnants
  • 171 reflection nebulae
  • 146 planetary nebulae
  • 52 dark nebulae and molecular clouds
  • 792 galaxies
  • 38 galaxy groups
  • 108 globular clusters
  • 309 open clusters

The tabular index contains important details on each object, including a description, the best time of year to capture it, and the required field of view.

With information on nearly every possible photographic target in the night sky, The Astrophotography Sky Atlas will help you choose your targets and plan your imaging.

Be sure to also have a look at The Astrophotography Planner (2020-2021 Edition)

6. Photography: Night Sky. A Field Guide for Shooting After Dark, by Jennifer Wu & James Martin

Photography: Night Sky, will give you the tips and techniques you need to take stunning astrophotography photographs.

This book will teach you how to overcome the unique issues that confront nighttime photographers, offering insight to specific camera settings in order to capture images that you will be proud of.

Photography: Night Sky. A Field Guide for Shooting After Dark, by Jennifer Wu & James Martin.

This book is a practical, well organized, concise guide to photographing the night sky. It contains chapters on photographing star points, star trails, moon shots, etc. The book is informative and full of inspirational images.

This book demonstrates the author’s techniques while focusing on photographing four principal subjects; stars as points of light, star trails, the moon, and twilight. Each of these subjects share common photo techniques and considerations, as each method requires a distinct and different approach.

The photos within this book are shot from the United States of America, making it very appealing to North American stargazers. This clear and practical guide will help photographers of all levels portray the stunning spectacle of the night sky.

7. The Astrophotography Manual, by Chris Woodhouse

The Astrophotography Manual is considered by many as one of the best books ever written on Astrophotography. It is for photographers who desire to move beyond using standard SLR cameras as well as editing software.

It is for those who are ready to create beautiful images of nebulas, galaxies, clusters, and the solar system. Since this book does an excellent job explaining this process, it also proves itself as to be a useful tool for beginners.

The Astrophotography Manual, by Chris Woodhouse.

This book takes readers through the full astrophotography process; from choosing and using equipment to image capturing, calibration, and processing.

This combination of technical background information along with the hands-on approach brings the science down to earth with a practical method to plan for success.

The manual offers a wide range of images, graphs, and tables to illustrate key concepts. The author covers a diverse range of hardware to be used for astrophotography including smartphones, tablets and mount technologies.

Woodhouse demonstrates how to utilize a variety of software such as Maxim DL, Nebulosity, Sequence Generator Pro, Photoshop and PixInsight. He uses case studies showing how and when to use certain tools to overcome technical challenges.

This book demonstrates how sensor performance and light pollution affect the image quality and exposure planning. There is tons of valued information within this book. Woodhouse does an excellent job laying out this information for the reader to understand and enjoy.

8. The Deep-Sky Imaging Primer (Second Edition), by Charles Bracken

The Deep-Sky Imaging Primer is an excellent source of information. It covers almost everything you need to know to create spectacular deep-sky images with a DSLR or an astronomical CCD camera.

Sara Wager (one of my favorite astrophotographers) included this book in the useful books section of her website. 

This book is printed in full color along with almost 200 images and illustrations. The book delves into the technical details where they are important, but the focus in this book is on practical advice for the amateur photographer.

The Deep-Sky Imaging Primer (Second Edition), by Charles Bracken

It also is an excellent resource for the astrophotographer on any experience level. The Deep-Sky Imaging Primer covers narrowband and standard color imaging techniques. The author provides exercise questions in order to help to reinforce the material being that is being covered.

The final chapters contain two start-to-finish image processing examples. According to many reviews, this is another must-have book that proves itself to be an excellent manual, getting right down to the details.

This book is divided into three sections; Understanding Images, Acquiring Images and Processing Images. The first section, Understanding Images, covers the fundamentals of signal and noise and how electronic imaging sensors work. It reviews the foundation for understanding the ‘why’ behind many equipment and processing choices.

The second section, Acquiring Images, reviews all of the equipment involved in imaging, such as cameras, mounts, and optics, and how to use them. Focusing and autoguiding are covered in detail in this section, as are the critical concepts of image scale and sampling.

The third section is about Processing Images. Calibration and post-processing are explained with several examples. The chapters break the image processing workflow into phases, with the tools and techniques for each thoroughly covered.

9. Getting Started: Budget Astrophotography, by Allan Hall

This is an excellent book for beginners who want to get started in astrophotography. It is full of informative information for getting started.

With many different types of telescopes and builds, along with how to buy/use them, can be overwhelming for anyone getting started. It is evident that Hall is an excellent author and a very knowledgeable astrophotographer.

Getting Started: Budget Astrophotography, by Allan Hall.

He guides the reader through the good and the poor decisions one needs to make to determine how deep they want to explore astrophotography and achieve the results they are looking for.

This is a great book for someone who wants to expand from visual astronomy to astrophotography while needing to keep the costs low.

There will always be time to upgrade equipment and spend money once you know the skills and processes required to become a true astrophotographer. In this book, Allan Hall will help guide you through that journey.

Included are details on equipment selection, processes, how to make equipment, and recommended software from a knowledgeable and experienced teacher.

This book is divided into three sections, understanding, doing, and building. This first section is understanding. Here, Hall focuses the reader on understanding astrophotography. Hall dives into light pollution and how to best overcome its effects on your photos. He also touches upon camera basics and telescopes.

The second section is on implementation. Once you’ve learned the fundamentals of location, cameras, and telescopes, it’s time to put your knowledge to use. In this section, Hall discusses how to find targets or objects of interest to photograph.

He explores exposure settings, making videos, image stacking, and image editing, all an important aspect of astrophotography. While it may sound difficult, this reference guide simplifies the processes by providing step-by-step instructions.

The final section is focused on building and includes information about do-it-yourself projects. From modifying your equipment to building add-ons, you’ll learn how to enhance your practice. Hall provides information about creating glass solar filters for your cameras and even making your own dew heaters.

10. Lessons from the Masters: Current Concepts in Astronomical Image Processing

Lessons from the Masters is a unique collaboration of talented astrophotographers who are world-renowned in their particular area. This is a fantastic astrophotography book because it covers each of the major sub-disciplines of astrophotography.

This provides you with an amazing opportunity to learn the latest acquisition and image processing techniques directly from the key innovators in the hobby.

Some of the astrophotographers in this book include:

  • Robert Gendler
  • Jay GaBany
  • Tony Hallas
  • Ken Crawford
  • Damian Peach
  • Babak A. Tafreshi

As you can see, there are some seriously talented and innovative astrophotographers on this list. There are over 100 illustrations in this book to help you better understand the challenges of astrophotography, and how to overcome them.

Lessons from the Masters by Robert Gendler.

Consider this astrophotography book to be a source of inspiration and insight into what it takes to be a great imager. Many of the image processing techniques are shared, but the way you choose to apply them to your personal workflow is up to you.

I am a big fan of several of the astrophotographers on this list (especially Tony Hallas), and this book was very exciting for me to read. 

11. Inside PixInsight (Second Edition) by Warren A. Keller

This is a great book to read and is easy to follow as long as you have some understanding of Pixinsight. If you are an absolute beginner, it may be best to familiarize yourself with the program first before reading this book.

Once you have gained a basic appreciation of this program, this book is a helpful reference and excellent resource for Pixinsight.

Inside PixInsight (Second Edition) by Warren A. Keller

In this book, Warren Keller reveals the secrets of the astro-image processing software PixInsight in a practical and easy to follow manner.

Keller’s insight allows the reader to produce stunning astrophotographs from ordinary data. As the first complete post-processing platform to be created by astro-imagers for astro-imagers, it has for several readers replaced the generic graphics editors as the software of choice.

With clear instructions from Keller, astrophotographers can get the most from its tools to create astonishing images. PixInsight is an advanced pre-processing software, capable of complex post-processing routines, where astrophotographers calibrate and stack their exposures into completed master files.

PixInsight has been inadequately documented in books, until now. This book includes screenshots to help illustrate the process, it is a very important guide.

If you are planning on diving into PixInsight for the first time, this might be one of the best astrophotography books you read this year. 

12. Getting Started: Long Exposure Astrophotography by, Allan Hall

Getting Started: Long Exposure Astrophotography is a very good, well written, and reasonably up to date book. Hall provides excellent advice and guidance on the entire scope of the subject of astrophotography.

The only downside to this book, and why it is ranked number 11 is due to the illustrations within the book. While this book offers excellent guidance, the pictures in the book are in black and white, which may be a let down to readers who may be expecting color images as examples.

Getting Started: Long Exposure Astrophotography by, Allan Hall.

This book uses over 200 illustrations, images, charts, and graphs in addition to the text to help you understand what equipment you will need and how to make it all work in order to create breathtaking images of the skies.

Hall covers everything from purchasing your first astrophotography telescope, hooking up your camera, taking long-exposure images, and finally processing that finished image. This book could be an essential guide to the astrophotographer.

If you desire to take photographs of glowing nebulae, spiral galaxies, and shimmering star clusters, this is a reference guide you may want with you out under the stars.

Hall can take you on a journey exploring in-depth details of field rotation and focusing methods, as well as explaining the what and how, and the ever-important why. He reviews why you stack multiple images and what effect it has on your finished product.

13. 1,001 Celestial Wonders to See Before You Die by Michael E. Bakich

1,001 Celestial Wonders is a guide to the night sky’s brightest and most fascinating objects. It is a month by month guide to all that is available to see through an amateur telescope.

Each target is accessible to any amateur astronomer using a 8″ medium-sized telescopes or larger from a dark site. The book provides a chronological target list, making it very easy to use.

1,001 Celestial Wonders to See Before You Die by Michael E. Bakich.

This book will show you many of the most memorable objects to observe, whether you are using a small telescope or even binoculars.

Bakich structured this book to include various objects that have a harder observing difficulty to help readers become better observers. This book is designed to be easy-to-use at the telescope, and observers will appreciate each object’s standardized layout and the book’s chronological organization.

1,001 Celestial Wonders offers a life-list of objects any observer would be proud to complete.

14. The 100 Best Astrophotography Targets by Ruben Kier

This book signifies the importance of knowing what objects are best for imaging in each month of the year. I keep a copy of this book in my garage as a quick reference for many of the objects I photograph in the backyard.

The 100 Best Astrophotography Targets by Ruben Kier.

The author provokes the questions to consider; what objects in the sky tonight are large enough, bright enough, and high enough to be photographed?

This book reveals, for each month of the year, the best celestial treasures within reach of a commercial CCD camera. However, the book provides a useful reference for all astrophotography cameras, including dedicated astronomy cameras, and DSLR’s.

best astrophotography targets book

Kier offers helpful hints and advice on framing, exposures, and filters are included. Each deep-sky object is explained in full detail so that observers will gain a richer understanding of these astronomical objects.

The book includes helpful, full-color reference images of deep-sky objects throughout. Think of this book as more of a quick reference guide, rather than a step-by-step, instructional manual. Kier does not dwell on the technology of the cameras or image processing techniques.

Kier offers detailed discussions of these topics that can be found in other publications. His book focuses on what northern latitude objects to image at any given time of the year to get the most spectacular results.

This book is very informative and well written. 

Final Thoughts

Although the majority of my astrophotography research and education takes place online, sometimes it is nice to have a physical book to read.

I find this especially true when using a resource guide such as Inside PixInsight, or when browsing objects in the garage using the 100 Best Astrophotography Targets

All of the astrophotography books on this list can be a valuable resource for you, and propel your interest in the hobby further. If you choose to purchase one of the books from the links on this page on Amazon, I will receive a very small commission.

The 14 Best Astrophotography Books

  1. Digital SLR Astrophotography Second Edition, by Michael A. Covington
  2. Astrophotography Second Edition, by Thierry Legault
  3. The Practical Astronomer Second Edition, by Anton Vamplew
  4. The Backyard Astronomers Guide, by Terrance Dickinson and Alan Dyer
  5. The Astrophotography Sky Atlas, by Charles Bracken
  6. Photography: Night Sky by Jennifer Wu & James Martin
  7. The Astrophotography Manual, by Chris Woodhouse
  8. The Deep-Sky Imaging Primer (Second Edition), by Charles Bracken
  9. Getting Started: Budget Astrophotography, by Allan Hall
  10. Lessons from the Masters by Robert Gendler
  11. Inside PixInsight (Second Edition) by Warren A. Keller
  12. Getting Started: Long Exposure Astrophotography by, Allan Hall
  13. 1,001 Celestial Wonders to See Before You Die by Michael E. Bakich
  14. The 100 Best Astrophotography Targets by Ruben Kier

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