Most people have been looking up at the stars and wondering about them ever since they can remember. That initial curiosity seems to deepen over time, as we learn more about such fascinating things as planets and constellations. Did you know that you can see a galaxy 2½ million light-years away with your unaided eyes? Or the Moon’s craters with binoculars?

There are countless wonders awaiting you on any clear night! But how, exactly, do you get the most enjoyment, with the least complication? Many newcomers to astronomy get lost in all the myriad of choices, information and details, and end up quitting in frustration. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

What advice would help amateur astronomers the most? The editors got together to brainstorm this question, and we’ve come up with the following very best books to help newcomers past the most common pitfalls, and onto a sure route toward a lifetime of cosmic exploration and enjoyment.