We present here our list of the best astrophotography books to help you learn how to shoot the stars and other astronomical objects.
Some would suit absolute beginners, whilst others are for intermediate or advanced astrophotographers.
There is also a second section of the best space photography books that are less educational and more inspirational. Enjoy!
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Best Astrophotography Books
These books are for those looking to learn astrophotography as a beginner, or advance their skills if already a practicioner.
They tend to either focus on landscape astrophotography with a DSLR or mirrorless camera, or deep-sky or planetary photography with a dedicated astronomy camera, but some (like the first two in this list) cover both.
The Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition is the most prestigious astrophotography competition in the world.
Every year over 100 images are shortlisted in various categories and these showcase the best of modern astrophotography.
This could easily be in our list below of the best space photography books, but the reason why it makes a great book for those looking to advance their astrophotography skills and knowledge is that each image features details of the equipment used by the photographer and some insight into how the images were taken.
You can really learn from this on what cameras, telescopes, mounts, and lenses are being successfully used today, as well as the planning, settings, and techniques used. (We have actually done a detailed analysis of the equipment used in all 400+ shortlisted images in the competition in the past three years – see here).
In addition to the educational aspects, this makes a beautiful book to have around the house showcasing the best contemporary landscape and deep-sky astrophotography.
Thierry Legault is a world-renowned astrophotographer and in his book, Astrophotography, he provides a comprehensive overview of all different types of astrophotography – from the moon and planets, to the Milky Way, and far off galaxies and other deep-sky objects.
It includes guides on how to select the best equipment and covers DLSR and dedicated astronomy cameras. It also covers advanced techniques using telescopes and post-production of images.
This book is perfect for a beginner or for someone that already has some astrophotography experience and is looking to take it further.
Newly released in 2021, this book focuses on landscape astrophotography and capturing images of the stars and the milky way above the earth (among other things).
It’s a great beginners’ guide to night sky photography and fully up-to-date in terms of equipment and techniques.
Released in July 2020, this is the latest astrophotography book from Chris Woodhouse, updating his very popular Astrophotography Manual from 2017.
The book is aimed at beginners wanting to progress from regular photography to deep-sky photography and covers all that you need to know regarding equipment and techniques.
This is the second edition, released in 2017, of Night Photography and Light Painting: Finding Your Way in the Dark by Lance Keimig.
This is a big, meaty book that covers many aspects of night sky photography and would suit a beginner or intermediate alike.
This book is recommended by deep-sky astrophotographer Ken Crawford in an interview with him we did here on how he captures far-off nebulae.
The New CCD Astronomy: How to capture the stars with a CCD camera in your own backyard by Ron Wodaski was written in 2002. It’s therefore fairly dated but many deep-sky imagers swear by it as being one of the best overviews of imaging with dedicated astronomy cameras.
The book is focused on deep-sky astrophotography with a CCD camera and a telescope and so is for advanced astrophotographers.
Another good overview for beginners and would suit someone with a DLSR or mirrorless to play around with shooting the night sky.
Written by Jennifer Wu & James Martin in 2014, this book focuses on the basics of night sky photography, covering the Milky Way, star trails, and the moon, as well as general landscape photography in low-light.
This book is a great introduction that would suit beginners and those that already have some knowledge but are looking to learn more.
Written by Allan Hall in 2014, its focus is on taking great astrophotography images without having to spend a fortune on gear.
It includes a number of projects to try that would work with basic cameras or even smartphone cameras and so makes a good starting point for those that want to learn more before deciding whether or not they need more equipment that might be expensive.
Written in 2018 by photography Glenn Randall, this is another book focused on landscape imaging.
It is less “astrophotography” and more shooting at night with a DSLR/mirrorless camera, but the lines between these are blurry, especially for landscape astronomy photography.
The 100 Best Astrophotography Targets: A Monthly Guide for CCD Imaging with Amateur Telescopes is part of the Patrick Moore Practical Astronomy Series of books.
This book focuses on what objects to image at any given time of the year for northern hemisphere skies and answers the question “what’s in the sky tonight for me to photograph?”.
It’s targeted at people with telescopes and dedicated astronomy cameras looking for deep sky objects.
This is the second edition of Michael Covington’s DSLR Astrophotography book, released in 2018.
As the name suggests, this book is for photographers with a DSLR (or mirrorless) camera looking to photograph the stars and objects in space.
This is a comprehensive overview of landscape astrophotography that covers planning, composing, and post-processing.
It covers photographing star trails and other aspects and is a great guide to all you need to know to advance your skills in this area.
Helpfully recommended by the author Greg Redfern in the comments of this article!
This is a great introduction to astrophotography for a beginner and part of the Patrick Moore Practical Astronomy Series of books.
Best Space Photography Books
These are books that showcase the greatest images of space and astronomical objects.
This well-presented book would make for a perfect gift for someone that is into NASA and space exploration.
It is a collection of some of NASA’s most amazing photographs from across the cosmos.
This National Geographic book tells the story of the Hubble Space Telescope and showcases more than 150 of the greatest images sent back in its first 25 years in space.
This book is written by International Space Station astronaut, Chris Hadfield who orbited the Earth 2,597 times in the ISS and took over 45,000 photos of the Earth!
Not technically pictures of space, but rather pictures of the Earth from space that give an amazing perspective of the different continents, oceans, and everything else.
Another National Geographic book, this one explores our galaxy, the Milky Way and our place within it, and its place within the Cosmos.
This is a historical astrophotography book that delves into the history and development of photographing the moon in the past 150+ years.
Released in 2017, this is a more up-to-date collection of over 300 of the Hubble Telescope’s greatest images.
This book presents a history of photographing the sun and the moon.
Another coffee table book showcasing the best images of Hubble.
Released in 2019, this is a classic ‘coffee table book’ that you’d have lying around to go through at your leisure.
What’s Your Favorite Astrophotography Book?
Ask pretty much any successful astrophotographer what the best way to learn is, and they will pretty much all say “just get out there and try”.
Whilst there is no substitute to taking action and learning from your mistakes, this should be balanced with learning from others that know more than you and can help make that time dedicated to taking pictures more productive.
One of the best ways to learn is through reading books written by experts.
A good book will often take you deeper than, say, reading a blog post (which we often just scan) and can be much cheaper in comparison to taking online courses or receiving in-person tuition, for example.
The above brings together a wide range of some of the best astrophotography books available. From great guides for beginners to advanced photographers, and also inspirational collections of the best images in the world.
If you have any suggestions for must-read books on astrophotography then please share your recommendations in the comments below.