Club member Denis Williamson gives a well received lecture on Astronomy 101

Getting started in astronomy

Some free and paid resources on telescope selection, astronomy software and tutorials for the beginner and intermediate astronomer.

Planetarium Software



  • Stellarium – Free; an outstanding planetarium program for simulating the sky, it can also control a computerized telescope.
  • Cartes du Ciel – Free
  • Celestia – Free; unlike most programs, Celestia allows you to leave Earth and visit other planets, (even imaginary ones)


Smartphones & Tablets

  • Sky Safari – Depends on version ($2.99 – $39.99); available for both iPhone and Android devices.  Can control a computerized telescope.



Books (these are some of our favorites – there are hundreds more)

  • Nightwatch – A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe, by Terence Dickinson ($25)
  • Celestial Sampler, by Sue French – both this and Deep Sky Wonders are devoted to particularly interesting and/or beautiful objects.
  • Deep Sky Wonders, by Sue French
  • The Backyard Astronomers’ Guide, by Terence Dickinson & Alan Dyer – covers all aspects of amateur astronomy; more detailed than Nightwatch.
  • The Stars, by H. A. Rey – a wonderful introduction to naked-eye astronomy, by the author of the Curious George books.
  • Turn Left at Orion – Hundreds of Night Sky Objects to See in a Home Telescope, by Guy Consolmagno & Dan Davis ($24) – covers some of the same ground as Sue French’s books; well organized and easy to use.

Articles & Podcasts


Litchfield Hills Amateur Astronomy Club