The Urban Astronomy Guide

Stargazing from towns and suburbs

Published 2014

Click on the cover to buy this book through

Click here to order through (Firefly North American edition, entitled Urban Astronomy)

Most amateur astronomers have to put up with light pollution to a greater or lesser extent, even if they don't live in the middle of a city, so many will find this book useful. It is a complete revision and updating of Astronomy from Towns and Suburbs, which I wrote in 1994. While things have moved on for the amateur astronomer, light pollution gets worse year by year. But to some extent, technology is coming to the rescue.

The book begins by looking at the two enemies of the observer: the weather and light pollution. You might think there is nothing you can do about the weather, but the important thing is to recognise how the different weather conditions can affect your observing, whether you are interested in observing the planets and other Solar-System objects, where light pollution does not matter, or deep-sky objects, where you need the clearest skies possible.

Light pollution is changing, as LED lighting becomes more widespread. Learn to recognise the different types and how they will affect the type of object you want to observe.

I also take a look at the telescopes that are best suited to combating light pollution, and to what extent you can use filters to help your observing, whether visual or imaging. The advent of CCDs and planetary cameras has transformed amateur observing, so I show how you can take dramatic photos even from city centres.


Chapter 1
Introduction Outlining the problem
Chapter 2 Know your enemy – the weather How keeping an eye in the weather map can help you to maximise the benefit from clear skies
Chapter 3 Know your enemy – the streetlights The different types and their characteristics
Chapter 4 Choose your targets The range of objects that you can observe, and how each is affected differently by urban conditions
Chapter 5 Choose your weapons How to equip yourself for urban observing, with the merits of different types of instrument explained
Chapter 6 Choose your ammunition How technology, from filters to CCD and DSLR cameras, is coming to the rescue
Chapter 7 If all else fails... A brief look at finding a less light-polluted site for observing, either at home or abroad; and remote observing, without leaving home at all
Chapter 8 Indoor observing Not strictly urban observing, but what to do if getting out there is just too much for you. Making use of the resources on the web.
Finally, there is a comprehensive list of 135 deep-sky objects that you can observe from urban locations around the world, and an Index.

My brief sky guide for this month (on the Society for Popular Astronomy Young Stargazers' site)

    Site updated 29 April 2016

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