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Science Astronomy


A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe

by (author) Terence Dickinson & Ken Hewitt-White

foreword by Richard Tresch Fienberg

Firefly Books
Initial publish date
Sep 2023
  • Spiral bound

    Publish Date
    Sep 2006
    List Price
  • Spiral bound

    Publish Date
    Nov 1998
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Nov 1998
    List Price
  • Spiral bound

    Publish Date
    Sep 2023
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 10 to 18
  • Grade: 5 to 12


As NightWatch, Terence Dickinson's classic stargazing guide, neared its 40th anniversary, Dickinson worked with a small group of trusted colleagues to give this groundbreaking reference an overhaul that will take it deep into the 21st century. Longtime astronomy writer and sky observer Ken Hewitt-White led the editorial team. A central aspect to this new edition is the subtle improvements to the unique seasonal star charts that present a 360-degree simulation of the night sky on one page and identify the stars and constellations on the facing page. Yet it is Dickinson's clear, jargon-free language that will continue to inspire hundreds of thousands of people around the world to take up recreational astronomy.

Much has happened in this popular hobby since the revised Fourth Edition of NightWatch was published in 2006. In response, the text has been substantially revised and updated throughout all 13 chapters. Moreover, the book has been completely redesigned and most of its many photographs have been replaced. A noted feature is the variety of superb astrophotos of star clusters, nebulas, galaxies and other celestial phenomena taken by accomplished amateur astronomers. Lavishly illustrated sections on the Moon and planets will inspire novice observers of the solar system. To accommodate the extensive revisions, NightWatch has grown from 192 pages to 208 pages. With the release of the Fifth Edition, we are also launching a new website,, that will offer links to additional resources and will be regularly updated with information on new celestial events and equipment.

Since the First Edition of NightWatch was released in 1983, the most significant transformations in amateur astronomy have been in optics and technology. For all the latest on gadgets and gear, renowned astrophotographer Alan Dyer, Dickinson's coauthor of The Backyard Astronomer's Guide, has contributed an entirely new chapter on basic digital astrophotography. Dyer has also modernized a key portion of an enlarged chapter on stargazing equipment, creating a welcoming place in NightWatch for today's computerized telescopes.

Stargazing enthusiasts of all levels of experience will discover much of value in an enduring reference conceived by one of the most respected names in amateur astronomy. This must-have Fifth Edition includes:

  • a comprehensive, all-season guide to the night sky
  • constellation charts covering both northern- and southern-hemisphere skies, making NightWatch a truly global resource
  • tips on choosing binoculars and telescopes and taking astrophotos
  • highlights of major features on the Moon to guide the budding lunar explorer
  • lists of solar and lunar eclipses, planet locations and the best lunar and planetary conjunctions to 2035
  • a range of resources for further study.

About the authors

Terence Dickinson, one of Canada's best-loved amateur-astronomy writers, gained renown for unraveling the mysteries of the cosmos. His down-to-earth style made him the award-winning best-selling author of 14 astronomy books, including NightWatch, The Backyard Astronomer's Guide, The Universe and Beyond and Hubble's Universe. The cofounder and former editor of SkyNews, Canada's national astronomy magazine, Dickinson was a recipient of the Order of Canada and two honorary doctorates. He died of complications from Parkinson's on February 1, 2023.

Terence Dickinson's profile page

Ken Hewitt-White has enjoyed a strong working relationship and friendship with Terence Dickinson for decades, founded on their mutual passion for the night sky Currently a contributing editor at Sky and Telescope magazine, Hewitt-White was a longtime contributor to SkyNews magazine and the former director of Vancouver's H R MacMillan Planetarium A lecturer and writer, he has authored two books, taught dozens of astronomy courses and written countless articles Hewitt-White lives with his wife Lynda in southern British Columbia, where they go stargazing in the mountains every summer

Ken Hewitt-White's profile page

Richard Tresch Fienberg's profile page

Editorial Reviews

[Review of previous edition:] A "must" for any night-time observer.

The Midwest Book Review

[Review of previous edition:] This book is widely regarded as the essential guidebook for beginning stargazers. If you buy this book for no other reason that to help you find the North Star, so that you can take images of Star Trails, then it'll be worth your money.

Garry Black Photography (

[Review of previous edition:] Aspiring stargazers will find everything that they need to unlock the secrets of the night sky in this newly updated edition. Public and school libraries will certainly want to update their collections with this book.


[Review of previous edition:] A great all-round astronomy guide.


[Review of previous edition:] This is a book you can confidently recommend to anyone who is just starting out in astronomy.

Astronomical League

[Review of previous edition:] A paramount book of sky objects... easy and understandable. This practical guide is a must for the science classroom teacher, the beginning or amateur astronomer, and young and old students of the night. The author gives a sensible, realistic perspective on night sky viewing. I believe this is the best book in its field available to amateurs.

The Science Teacher

[Review of previous edition:] This is a wonderful, single-volume introduction to the night sky and its wonders. More than that, it's chock-full of valuable information to help you understand how your telescope works and what all those dials and knobs do. If you only purchase one item to go with your new telescope, this should be it.

Sky and Telescope Magazine

[Review of previous edition:] Renowned author and astronomer Terence Dickinson took Grade 5 and 6 students from the [North Bay] area through the universe to make snowballs from water and ice particles that make up Saturn's rings, and visit the red liquid methane lakes of its moon, Titan.... "I'm hoping that they'll walk away with excitement about the universe," he said." It's a subject that young people are not discarding. They're living with it. They're interested in it. And they know a lot."

The North Bay Nugget

[Review of previous edition:] This is a fantastic introductory book chock full of information and charts. Well written and engaging, it is sure to provide all the information to get Dad started looking at the night sky.

[Review of previous edition:] If Canadians look at the sky more than anyone else in the world, it's thanks to one of our own....NightWatch, now in its fourth edition, has become a staple in many Canadian cottages and amateur astronomers' bookshelves along with his popular The Backyard Astronomer's Guide. The book has also quietly gone on to be the bestselling stargazer's guide in the world, having been translated into Spanish, Italian, Greek and other languages, and selling a stead 25,000 copies or more a year around the world.

The Whig-Standard

[Review of previous edition:] A great overall book for the stargazing hobbyist.

St Paul Pioneer Press

[Review of previous edition:] With this book, viewing the night skies can become fun again, and a family affair.... A must-have book, to stimulate interest in the heavens above, and away from video games and less productive activities.

Shelf Life, Tenth Anniversary Edition

[Review of previous edition:] It may be hard to justify upgrading from later printings of the third edition, but NightWatch remains one of the best sourcebooks to introduce beginning astronomers to the night sky -- and to keep them interested.

Sky and Telescope

[Review of previous edition:] The perfect introduction to astronomy and stargazing. It has been the top-selling stargazing guide for over 20 years... With information that even the most experienced stargazers will find comes in handy.

[Review of previous edition:] Another must-have....

My San Antonio Times (

[Review of previous edition:] NightWatch remains the best single source on sky watching and astronomy equipment for the backyard enthusiast.

Windsor Star

[Review of previous edition:] This classic title has revisions in every chapter.


[Review of previous edition:] Highly recommended as the best of its kind.

Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada

[Review of previous edition:] Some astronomy books become trusted friends; sun-baked, dew-drenched companions, their well-thumbed, fact-filled pages tattered with time. This fourth edition is just such a book. First published in 1983 but now updated and expanded, it will please loyal backyard astronomers and entice newbies seeking a first complete guide... A skilled observer and accomplished astrophotographer, the author knows what's out there and how to best see it.

BBC Sky at Night Magazine

[Review of previous edition:] Absolutely the best book for beginners

Library Journal

[Review of previous edition:] [Globe and Mail 2006 Holiday Gift Book selection] Remains perhaps the best book available for amateur astronomers, and makes fascinating browsing even if you never put eye to telescope.

Globe and Mail

[Review of previous edition:] New, better-quality photos; amped-up sections on astrophotography and using amateur telescopic equipment; and a new chapter on the skies visible from the Southern hemisphere.

[Review of previous edition:] This fourth edition of the essential guide for amateur stargazers is newly updated, lavishly illustrated...and packed with facts...and a cosmic closet-full of other astronomical delights. For anyone who ever looked up and wondered what's out there, Nightwatch puts the heavens at your fingertips.

American Profile

[Review of previous edition:] [Nightwatch was] a clear, concise manual for backyard stargazing that also managed to convey the excitement of astronomy. This fantastically revised edition continues that tradition, but now includes sky maps for observers in the southern hemisphere and a guide to celestial phenomena up to 2018. The best introduction around.

New Scientist

[Review of previous edition:] This is probably the best handbook for the beginning astronomer.

The Examiner (Peterborough)

[Review of previous edition:] General interest introduction to astronomy now in its fourth edition... bends the mind with information.

Victoria Times-Colonist

[Review of previous edition:] Easily the best in its field. ... Highly recommended for all libraries.


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