The best books to make night sky your new BFF

Who am I?

I grew up intending to become an astronaut. The cosmos always felt within reach of my backyard, from where I could watch the Space Shuttle launch. As I grew up, I began to realize that the space our rockets reached was exceedingly close compared to the rest of the universe. And I became obsessed with what else was out there. I went on to study radio astronomy, fascinated by the parts of the cosmos that our senses can’t detect. After that, I became a science journalist, writing about how space influences Earth and vice versa.

I wrote...

Astronomical Mindfulness: Your Cosmic Guide to Reconnecting with the Sun, Moon, Stars, and Planets

By Christopher G. de Pree, Sarah Scoles,

Book cover of Astronomical Mindfulness: Your Cosmic Guide to Reconnecting with the Sun, Moon, Stars, and Planets

What is my book about?

Back when humans lived in communal caves and tribal encampments, we told stories about the stars. When we started sailing, we used these same pinpricks of light to estimate our own location. When we began planting, we relied on the constellations and the Sun to plant and sustain crops. crops. Yet today, most modern humans have lost this deep connection to the cosmos that was once central to our daily lives. To help us reestablish our vital connection to the heavens, Astronomical Mindfulness guides readers in using the power of the sun, moon, stars, and planets to deepen knowledge of the solar system and foster a renewed sense of presence in the universe. Filled with engaging exercises, the shows the fundamental ways our planet moves through the solar system and how these motions determine our perception of time and place.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy's Vanishing Explorers

Why did I love this book?

Author Emily Levesque seeks out powerful telescopes and the people who run them, looking at the evolution of astronomy from a science based on hands-on observing to one more centered on remote-controlled instruments. In the book, she questions what astronomy may have lost in its shift toward more distanced and abstracted technology—and what sorts of creativity and adventure it could retain if the study of the stars were a little more like it was in centuries past. I enjoyed the hard, but narrative and engaging, look at what professional astronomers gain and lose from the way they look at the stars (and everything else in the sky).

By Emily Levesque,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Stargazers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of the people who see beyond the stars-an astronomy book for adults still spellbound by the night sky.
Humans from the earliest civilizations through today have craned their necks each night, using the stars to orient themselves in the large, strange world around them. Stargazing is a pursuit that continues to fascinate us: from Copernicus to Carl Sagan, astronomers throughout history have spent their lives trying to answer the biggest questions in the universe. Now, award-winning astronomer Emily Levesque shares the stories of modern-day stargazers in this new nonfiction release, the people willing to adventure across high mountaintops…

Book cover of The Human Cosmos: Civilization and the Stars

Why did I love this book?

This book helped me understand the history of humans’ relationship to the sky, and how our connection to it has in a lot of ways decreased, while civilizational knowledge of what’s actually going on up there has increased. It provides both the means and the motivation for the people of the modern world to act a bit more like the people of the past.

By Jo Marchant,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Human Cosmos as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Best Book of 2020 (NPR)
A Best Book of 2020 (The Economist)
A Top Ten Best Science Book of 2020 (Smithsonian)
A Best Science and Technology Book of 2020 (Library Journal)
A Must-Read Book to Escape the Chaos of 2020 (Newsweek)
Starred review (Booklist)
Starred review (Publishers Weekly)

A historically unprecedented disconnect between humanity and the heavens has opened. Jo Marchant's book can begin to heal it.

For at least 20,000 years, we have led not just an earthly existence but a cosmic one. Celestial cycles drove every aspect of our daily lives. Our innate relationship with the stars…

Book cover of The Sirens of Mars: Searching for Life on Another World

Why did I love this book?

This book provided me with a way to think of another planet as a real planet—not some abstract spot in the sky. In it, Sarah Stewart Johnson interweaves her own personal story of becoming an astronomer with the science of Mars, the planet she studies, and the efforts of some humans who came before her. Reading it, the philosophical and personal and scientific mixed together in ways that made all three lenses more focused and powerful for me—and made me see the Red Planet in a new way.

By Sarah Stewart Johnson,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Sirens of Mars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As a new wave of interplanetary exploration unfolds, a talented young planetary scientist charts our centuries-old obsession with Mars.

'Beautifully written, emotive - a love letter to a planet' DERMOT O'LEARY, BBC Radio 2

Mars - bewilderingly empty, coated in red dust - is an unlikely place to pin our hopes of finding life elsewhere. And yet, right now multiple spacecraft are circling, sweeping over Terra Sabaea, Syrtis Major, the dunes of Elysium and Mare Sirenum - on the brink, perhaps, of a discovery that would inspire humankind as much as any in our history.

With poetic precision and grace,…


By Carl Sagan,

Book cover of Contact

Why did I love this book?

I read Carl Sagan’s Contact when I was a young teenager, and it’s stayed with me for more than two decades. It details the dogged efforts of an astronomer obsessed with the question “Are we alone?” and explores what it would be like if she found out the answer was “Nope.” The book was an equal mix of science, story, and thought experiments that got me thinking about some of the biggest and oldest questions humans have asked about the universe.

By Carl Sagan,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Contact as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In December 1999 a multinational team journeys out to the stars, to the most awesome encounter in human history. Who - or what - is out there?

Book cover of The End of Everything: (Astrophysically Speaking)

Why did I love this book?

Who doesn’t love to think about how the universe—so big, so old already—will ultimately end? Reading the book encouraged me to look at the universe as its own thing, of which I and all of Earth, were tiny parts, and tiny parts that would end long before the cosmos itself would. Katie Mack explores what five such conclusions might look like, getting everybody a little more comfortable with the idea that every story has an ending, even if we don’t know what this one looks like.

By Katie Mack,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The End of Everything as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'Weird science, explained beautifully' - John Scalzi

'A rollicking tour of the wildest physics. . . Like an animated discussion with your favourite quirky and brilliant professor' Leah Crane, New Scientist

From one of the most dynamic rising stars in astrophysics, an eye-opening look at five ways the universe could end, and the mind-blowing lessons each scenario reveals about the most important ideas in cosmology

We know the universe had a beginning. But what happens at the end of the story?…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in astronomers, Mars, and cosmology?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about astronomers, Mars, and cosmology.

Astronomers Explore 17 books about astronomers
Mars Explore 69 books about Mars
Cosmology Explore 49 books about cosmology