For centuries we’ve been intrigued by the stars, the planets, and the possibility of life beyond Earth. Outer space contains many mysteries that are slowly being revealed thanks to the hard work of scientists and astronauts. And while there’s so much information online, nothing can take the place of a good book. That’s why we’ve put together our collection of the 20 best books about space.
If you are interested in outer space and looking for a way to increase your knowledge, there are so many books to choose from. Whether you want a guide to the constellations or an insider’s look at the life of an astronaut, there’s something for you. And if you aren’t a big reader, stunning photography books filled with images of the universe will definitely meet your needs.
We’ve got everything from behind-the-scenes looks at NASA to classic cosmology reads by Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking. Take a look at these 20 great reads about astronomy and space travel and get ready to launch into a good book.
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Books About Constellations and Galaxies
Space Atlas: Mapping the Universe and Beyond by James Trefil
National Geographic’s Space Atlas is a must-have guide to outer space. It has over 300 pages of information, including constellation star guides and annotated planetary maps. It’s the astronomy reference book that you’ll return to over and over again.
Constellations: The Story of Space Told Through the 88 Known Star Patterns in the Night Sky by Govert Schilling
Let award-winning astronomy writer Govert Schilling guide you through the stars. Not only does this book provide the basics about each constellation — including location, size, and visibility — but Schilling also delves into how they were discovered and the folklore behind them.
Galaxies: Birth and Destiny of Our Universe by Govert Schilling
Go to the Milky Way and beyond through stunning photographs of known galaxies taken by the world’s largest ground-based telescopes, as well as the Hubble Space Telescope. Along the way, learn more about these galaxies through text by acclaimed astronomy writer Govert Schilling.
Astronomy Photography and Art
Hubble Legacy: 30 Years of Discoveries and Images by Jim Bell
The world may be buzzing about the James Webb Space Telescope, but there’s no denying the beauty of the imagery that the Hubble Space Telescope has captured for over 30 years. This coffee table book celebrates Hubble’s most iconic imagery and provides insider insight into the stories behind the photographs.
The Art of NASA: The Illustrations That Sold the Missions by Piers Bizony
This is an interesting look at NASA’s use of illustrations to sell the concepts of their missions. Culled by the space agency’s vast archive, the book has 200 artworks that show a different side of NASA’s history.
Infinite Wonder: An Astronaut’s Photographs from a Year in Space by Scott Kelly
Astronaut Scott Kelly spent one year working on the International Space Station. This photography book is a fascinating collection of imagery from his time in outer space. Kelly gives a rare glimpse of what it feels like to view Earth from outer space and what life is like on the ISS.
Infinite Worlds: The People and Places of Space Exploration by Michael Soluri
Take a look at what happened behind the scenes when NASA came together to save the Hubble Space Telescope during its final servicing mission and the closure of the shuttle program. Photographer Michael Soluri was given unfettered access to the astronauts, engineers, scientists, and ground crew at three NASA flight centers. His images are interwoven with essays by those involved in this final mission.
Memoirs by Astronauts
Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut’s Journeys by Michael Collins
Astronaut Michael Collins will forever be known for his work on the Apollo 11 mission. Carrying the Fire is his personal look at his time in NASA, giving a unique perspective on the Moon landing. His look at what it means to travel into space is a must-read for anyone interested in outer space.
Handprints on Hubble: An Astronaut’s Story of Invention by Kathryn D. Sullivan
The Hubble Space Telescope revolutionized the way we look at outer space. And thanks to astronaut Kathryn D. Sullivan, we have a first-hand account of the blood, sweat, and tears it took to bring Hubble to life. Along the way, Sullivan also details her own time at NASA as one of the agency’s first six female astronauts and the first American woman to walk in space.
Chasing Space by Leland Melvin
Leland Melvin’s inspiring memoir shares his journey from NFL wide receiver to NASA astronaut. Melvin, who suffered an injury during NASA training that left him deaf, discusses how he persevered to overcome his injury and, eventually, make it to outer space.
Books About Space and Time
Cosmos by Carl Sagan
It’s impossible not to include Cosmos on a list of books about space. Carl Sagan’s masterpiece is one of the bestselling science books of all time, and for good reason. Sagan’s musings on the origin of the universe and beyond have inspired astronomy lovers for decades.
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking’s introduction to cosmology remains one of the best reads for non-experts looking for insight into the Big Bang, black holes, and much more.
Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries by Neil Degrasse Tyson
This collection of essays from well-known American astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson tackles the mysteries of the cosmos with humor and enthusiasm.
Hyperspace by Michio Kaku
Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku is known for his ability to break down complex theories in a manner that anyone can understand. With Hyperspace, he examines modern physics and the thought-provoking idea of a 10-dimensional universe.
Dr. Space Junk vs. the Universe: Archeology and the Future by Alice Gorman
What goes up must come down — even in space. In this fascinating book, archeologist Alice Gorman takes a look at what humans leave behind in outer space. This space junk can include abandoned satellites or the American flag on the Moon. Dr. Space June vs. the Universe is a fascinating look at how humans relate to outer space.
Books About Life on Mars
Missions to Mars: A New Era of Rover and Spacecraft Discovery on the Red Planet by Larry Crumpler
Mars has been a hot topic for many years and NASA has been rolling out many missions to explore the Red Planet and see if life could survive there. Larry Crumpler’s book uses his expertise as a planning lead for the Mars Exploration Rover Project to give new insights into NASA’s goals for the Red Planet.
The Sirens of Mars: Searching for Life on Another World by Sarah Stewart Johnson
Johnson uses her own fascination with Mars to weave a tale of how she and other scientists are looking for signs of life on the planet. This deeply personal account gives great insight into why we, as humans, are so connected to Mars and invested in seeing life on another planet.
Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
Mary Roach answers all of the pressing questions one might have about living in space. How do toilets flush? What’s it like when you can’t walk for a year? This fun and informative dive into life in space uses flight simulations as well as interviews with astronauts to give a glimpse at what it’s like to travel in space.
Books About Apollo
Apollo’s Legacy: Perspectives on the Moon Landings by Roger D. Launius
This all-encompassing look at the Apollo missions is a fascinating look at how they changed American society. Launius looks at the technological and political implications of Apollo and weaves a tale about why its legacy is so important.
How Apollo Flew to the Moon by W. David Woods
Covering every aspect of Apollo, this book is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn more about the mission. He not only gives insight into the technical aspects of the mission, but he also touches on the human impact and does so in a way that nontechnical readers can understand and appreciate.
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