Reference Material

Go back to HOMEPAGE

There is a surprising amount of reference material available on the internet.  So much in fact that it is difficult to choose what material to use and what to ignore.  For this reason it is good to occasionally pop into a book store and browse what they have too.  There are some really great books out there as I mention below.  Also below is some of the other miscellaneous material that I have encountered and have found to be useful such as maps and other tools.  Useful websites I have put on the "Astronomy Links" page.


  • "The Backyard Astronomer's Guide", by Terence Dickinson & Alan Dyer, Third Edition.  An excellent book!  This impressive hard covered tomb is stuffed full of easy to understand explanations about everything!  Choosing a telescope, choosing eyepieces, choosing other accessories, how to setup your telescope, how to find things in the sky, on and on and on.  I've read it cover to cover and it has been immensely informative.  It is like have Dickinson and Dyer in your living room for a long chat!  Highly recommended.  Click the image below to view an excerpt of the book.

  • "The Universe and Beyond", by Terence Dickinson.  Yeah yeah, I know, another Dickinson book.  Well you know what, his books are great because they are written so that people from a large range of backgrounds can understand and appreciate what he is trying to say.  I received this book as a teenager in 1986, but find my edition no less compelling now than back then.  I'm sure the latest edition (2004) is even better!  The book is a great round trip through everything you'd like to know about what's out there in space and how it came to be there, at least as we believe it to be today.  Click the image below to view an excerpt of the book.

  • "Sky & Telescope's Pocket Sky Atlas", by Roger W. Sinnott.  See "Maps" below.

  • "Atlas of the Messier Objects - Highlights of the Deep Sky", by Ronald Stoyan.  A beautifully illustrated 350+ page guide to the 110 Messier deep sky objects.  This book provides detailed information about each object's location in the sky, its history, astrophysical description, and details about how best to observe based on a range of different aperture telescopes.  I especially like the abundance of awesome Hubble space telescope images, and historical hand sketches.  A great reference, though a little hefty to bring out to the observing site! Click the image below to view an excerpt of the book.

  • "Guide to Observing Deep-Sky Objects", by Patrick Moore.  A simple, strait forward reference for finding and observing deep sky objects.  It is organised one constellation at a time, and includes what I consider a very handy chart for each that indicates the time and dates when each constellation is best viewed in the northern hemisphere.  Click the image below to view an excerpt of the book.

  • "Observing Handbook and Catalogue of Deep-Sky Objects", by Christian B. Luginbuhl & Brian A. Skiff.  A very straight forward and thorough catalogue of deep-sky objects.  There are no fancy pictures, just greyscale hand sketches, but the information is concise and to the point.  It is organised by constellation, and provides data about each object so you can locate and identify it, as well as what you should expect to see with different aperture telescopes.  A great book for planning your evening observing sessions.  Click the image below to view an excerpt of the book.


  • "Sky & Telescope's Pocket Sky Atlas", by Roger W. Sinnott.  Wow, what a handy little sky atlas!  I love it!  It is so well laid out, and just the right amount of information makes this a very useful set of maps.  Great for grab and go.  It is probably missing the intense levels of detail some serious deep sky object hunters need, but for day-to-day type amateur stuff it is great!  Click the image above to view an excerpt of the book.

  • "The TriAtlas Project", This is an amazing, absolutely free atlas put together by an avid deep sky object observer named Jose Ramon Torres (or JR for short) in the U.S.  He has a number of different atlas sets with varying detail levels.  I personally downloaded and printed out his Panoramic Set and Level C-Set.  You can check out his website and download his atlases from:

  • "The Moon", I have found numerous maps online of the moon.  The best I have found were generated by the US Geological Survey, and can be found at the US government education resource website (  The ones I have printed out for my own use can be seen below.  Caution, these are very large image files!

Lunar Earthside Chart (LMP-1)

Lunar Farside Chart (LMP-2)

Lunar Polar Chart (LMP-3)

12211x8553 pixels, 16.3Mb (JPG) 12200x8548 pixels, 27.1Mb (JPG) 14127x8534 pixels, 14.4Mb (JPG)
Geologic Map of Nearside

Clementine Laser Altimeter Topographic Map

LRO-WAC Nearside

16031x10682 pixels, 47.8Mb (JP2) 46" x 36", 344Mb (PDF) 24000x24000 pixels, 302Mb (RAR)
  • "The Planets",  I have found many useful images of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn online.  The Mars maps I found are already labelled and ready to go, but the Jupiter and Saturn images I labelled myself.  You can seen them in detail by clicking on the pics below. Caution, these are large image files.

  • "Light Pollution Map for Eastern Ontario",  This is a map of my own creation and is simply a combination of the satellite light pollution image maps that you can find on the internet (I downloaded it from and the Google map for the Eastern Ontario region.  The map and legend are linked to the images below, as well as links to the original source light pollution maps.

  • <Light Pollution Map North America> <Light Pollution Map World>

  • "Polar Alignment Map", This is another map of my own creation.  It is a zoomed in view of a 3 field-of-view area around the north celestial pole, with the celestial pole located for a range of dates.  I generated it by screen capturing the particular view out of a planetarium software, hand drew appropriately sized dots over the screen capture in Corel Draw, then added the grid and text.  I tweaked the star positions a bit using a scan of a celestial pole figure I found on the web (I think it is from Uranometria Sky Atlas).  I printed the resulting map onto vellum (a semi-transparent paper used for drafting) and then had it laminated.  I use it by turning/flipping the map to match my finderscope or telescope view, then use my flash light to back light it and read off visually where I need to aim my telescope.  I find it handy.

  • "OAOG Astronomy Day Planisphere", This is star finder is adapted by myself from one originally designed by the people at  I simplified the construction somewhat, and added some clipart that kids can colour in to customize their planisphere.  I created this to give out to kids at my club's 2012 Astronomy Day event.


  • "The Messier, Caldwell, & O'Meara Lists",  From various sources around the internet I have compiled a short tidy reference for each of these famous deep-sky object lists.  My original compilation was done as a spreadsheet <DeepSkyLists2.xls>, but I then cut and pasted them into Word where I added images of each object.  The XLS file also has the Herchel List.  I hope you find them useful.  <The Messier List.pdf> <The Caldwell List.pdf> <The Omeara List.pdf>

  • "Astronomical Object Angular Sizes",  I have been slowly learning how to use my telescope, including how to pick the best eyepiece for viewing a particular object.  I thought it would be handy to have an idea how big various objects are in the sky, so I have compiled a list of common objects, from big to small for reference.  <Angular sizes.pdf>

  • "List of Carbon Stars Mv < 8.5", Carbon stars are an interesting object to search for due to their deep red colour.  Here is a list that I compiled from various sources around the internet ( , <Carbon Stars.pdf>

  • "Astronomy Day Handouts", Over the years I have accumulated a number of informative handouts from various science and astronomy fun days.  I have scanned them into PDF form here.

Go back to HOMEPAGE

Last updated: 21-Jan-20

Copyrights to all content from the webpages hosted here belongs to Jim Thompson. Nov. 2009.