my favorite astronomy books

The best astronomy books to read in 2021

Last Updated: June 17, 2021

Astronomy is a fascinating subject to learn about. The study of how the universe and everything in it have formed and evolved can be mind-bending. Between black holes, pulsars, neutron stars and black matter, the universe seems to be full of incredible things. If you ended up on this page, chances are that you too are looking to improve your knowledge of the universe we live in. I have compiled a list of what I consider to be the best 6 books about astronomy. Enjoy.

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Death by Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries

About the book 📘

This New York Times bestseller is one of the many books that renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has written during his career. This book is essentially a collection of essays about various cosmological topics. Through the 7 main sections of the book, Neil takes you on a journey through the cosmos. He explains how the universe works from the giant black holes to the tiny atoms. He goes back in time to explain the various discoveries made by Max Planck, Isaac Newton, Galileo and many others. But also rants about how Hollywood never gets the science quite right for their space movies! This read truly gives you a glimpse into the mind of this brilliant scientist.

Why I loved it 😍

I have been a fan of Neil for a long time so it’s not surprising that I have loved this book. He is such a great science communicator. He explains complex concepts and theories about the cosmos in a nice, smooth and more importantly, humorous way. His fantastic narrative skills really push your imagination to the limits as you read through the 42 chapters of the book. If you want to learn about astronomy in an entertaining yet informative way, this is the book for you! A must-read.

  • Author: Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • Print length: 384 pages
  • Publication date: September 12, 2014
  • Ideal for: people interested in the cosmos

Astronomy: A Beginner’s Guide to the Universe

About the book📘

This book is a great way to introduce yourself to the fascinating world of astronomy because co-authors Eric Chaisson & Steve McMillan present a general and simple view of astronomy (without the complex mathematics involved). They cover important concepts about the planets, the solar system, our galaxy and the universe without going into complex detail, which is ideal for those unfamiliar with the technical aspects of this area of science.

Why I loved it 😍

I was given this book a year after it was published, and nearly a decade later I still find myself looking at some of the chapters to refresh my memory on some of the more fundamental astronomical concepts. The book is detailed, concise, easy-to-read, and offers comprehensive coverage of astronomy.

  • Authors: Eric Chaisson & Steve McMillan
  • Print length: 576 pages
  • Publication date: September 14, 2012
  • Ideal for: people interested in general astronomy

The Practical Astronomer, 2nd Edition: Explore the Wonders of the Night Sky

About the book 📘

The Practical Astronomer contains all the information you might need to get you started in the wonderful hobby that is stargazing. It’s a perfect introduction to understanding the various tools you need to explore the night sky such as the different types of telescopes and binoculars. The book is structured in 6 different sections covering a range of information from how to read a star map, how to find the various space objects (planets, galaxies, nebulae, comets, etc.) as well as how to recognize the constellation’s star pattern.

Why I loved it 😍

I have been a backyard stargazer for more than a decade and I still take this book with me during some of my observing sessions. It is a treasure trove of information about the night sky and everything that you can observe whether it is with a telescope, a pair of binoculars or just the naked eye. It is well known that this hobby can become quite technical depending on what you want to achieve but this book does a great job of making everything easy to understand.

  • Author: Anton Vamplew
  • Print length: 264 pages
  • Publication date: November 07, 2017
  • Ideal for: amateur astronomers


About the book 📘

This book was written to complement the famous series of space documentaries from 1980 “Cosmos”, narrated by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Carl Sagan. It is essentially a journey back through time and through the universe, exploring the relationship between life and the cosmos. The success of this book comes from Carl’s ability to explain scientific information in a plain, thoughtful and expressive manner. You might think that a 40-year-old book might be technically outdated and yes, since we have discovered a lot more about the cosmos but Carl’s views of the universe and mankind’s connection to it still remains the most compelling one for me to this day.

Why I loved it 😍

I have had this book on my shelves for almost 15 years and it is definitely a staple in my collection of astronomy related books. Carl Sagan is without a doubt the greatest public spokesperson for all things astronomy. He dedicated his life to educating the public about the wonderful universe we live in and his passion really shines through in this publication.

  • Author: Carl Sagan
  • Print length: 414 pages
  • Publication date: August 01, 1983
  • Ideal for: people with a keen interest in our universe

Space: 10 Things You Should Know

About the book 📘

This book is composed of ten fascinating short essays covering different aspects of the universe from an astrophysicist perspective. Each essay is about 10-15 pages long and they answer big questions about space such as: “What are black holes?” “Is there an Earth 2.0 somewhere?” “Are we alone in the universe?”. “Why is the night sky so dark?”. It’s quirky, easy to read, fascinating to read and highly informative.

Why I loved it 😍

I like that this book is short in length (only 128 pages!) and the author goes straight to the point: “here are ten things you should know about space!”. The author, Dr Becky Smethurst, is an astrophysicist and research fellow at the University of Oxford. She also has a YouTube channel where she explains in detail her research and the latest discoveries. If you are looking for a captivating astronomy book to read on the go during your commute to work without having to commit to hours of reading – This book is for you!

  • Author: Rebecca Smethurst
  • Print length: 128 pages
  • Publication date: September 5, 2019
  • Ideal for: people interested in space mysteries

Turn Left at Orion: A Hundred Night Sky Objects to See in a Small Telescope - and How to Find Them

About the book 📘

Turn Left at Orion is the ultimate guide to observing the night sky. This publication is very popular amongst the visual astronomy community and it is often recommended to beginners. It’s an in-depth catalogue of space objects you can observe with a small telescope. It contains many diagrams depicting how each object is supposed to look inside the eyepiece of different types of telescope so that you know what to expect. From galaxies to Nebulae, finding your way around the night sky will be much easier with this handy compendium.

Why I loved it 😍

This book is a fantastic guide to finding objects in the night sky. I first came across this publication at a star party where an amateur astronomer was using it to locate the Pleiades star cluster (7 sisters). I was amazed at how much information there were about hundreds of space objects and ordered a copy the very next day. If you have just bought your first telescope, then this book should definitely be your next purchase. 

  • Authors: Guy Consolmagno and Dan M. Davis
  • Print length: 224 pages
  • Publication date: October 19, 2000
  • Ideal for: beginners and advanced stargazers

Final thoughts

There you have it, my list of recommended astronomy books! Each of these books has helped me understand our universe a little better and helped me appreciate my time on this planet a little more. The night sky is full of wonderful surprises and I hope my recommendations will help you enjoy it as much as I do. If you know of a book that you think should be mentioned in this list, let me know in the comments section! Thank you.

Tom Urbain

 I’ve been fascinated by space and astronomy from a very young age. When I’m not watching space-themed documentaries, movies or TV series, I spend most of my free time in my backyard admiring the planets and galaxies with my telescope.

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