One of the best and classiest ways to display your interest in space, astronomy, or stargazing is collecting coffee table books. It shows your personality while keeping the room clean. They can also serve as decoration pieces that will adorn the living room, kitchen, waiting room, terrace, or even a bedroom.
Coffee table books are eye-catching and can blend and accentuate the overall design of a room. Plus the pictures are pretty to look at.
Here in little astronomy, we specialize in all things space, so we have curated a selection of the best space coffee table books that we have seen.
How these books were selected.
Here are the rules we set to choose the books in this list.
- The books should focus primarily on visuals. Photos, diagrams, artwork, etc. But they should keep the text to a minimum.
- High-quality paper and binding. Preferably hardcover versions.
- Eye-catching cover design
- Oversized versions so the images can shine.
Best Space Coffee Table Book – Expanding Universe
The Hubble orbital telescope has been in operation since 1990. It was the largest space telescope for over 30 years until the James Webb Telescope was launched in 2022. During all this time, the Hubble has gifted us spectacular images of all kinds of celestial objects. From our neighboring planets to the oldest events in the universe like quasars.
It has changed the way we understand the universe and has helped us learn so many things about it.
You could put together 10 photography books with all the astonishing images it has captured. But this book aptly named Expanding Universe curates some of the most impressive shots and displays them in high-resolution, high-quality bright paper.
Inside you will find the most amazing pictures of galaxies, nebulas, stars, and all kinds of objects.
The book focuses on letting the photos take the spotlight so you can see them in full-page format and it keeps the text to a minimum.
If you are only going to get one book out of this list. This is the one.
Best value – The Planets: Photographs from the Archives of NASA
If you have kids around the house. This is the most accessible book out of the list and the one they can learn the most from.
This volume is a photographic tour across the planets and moons of our Solar system. It contains more than 200 high-resolution detailed photos taken by the Hubble, Earth observatories, and even some taken by space probes that have been set to study them and send back these impressive images for us to enjoy.
The value for this hardcover has no match. It’s a big book printed on high-quality paper but the price is considerably lower than other similar oversized coffee table books. Just compare the cost with some of the other items in this article and you’ll get there’s a lot of price-to-value packed here.
The captions where you will quickly learn some interesting facts are by science writer Nirmala Nataraj.
Highest production value – The NASA Archives. 60 Years in Space
You know a publisher is proud of their book and wants you to get the best experience out of it when it comes shipped in a double box and a protective sleeve.
And this book definitely deserves it.
This massive 468 pages monster tells through pictures the story of space exploration, focusing mostly on the missions carried by NASA, with a good chunk of the pages dedicated solely to the Apollo program and other historical moments.
This is one of the books with the most production value I have ever seen. Just go check the reviews. 92% of people give it 5-stars. I don’t think I have ever seen another product with that ratio.
The only “but” I can find for this book is the cost. It is a bit on the expensive side, but it is definitely worth the price tag.
Infinite Wonder: An Astronaut’s Photographs from a Year in Space
Scott Kelly is one of the few people who can claim to have gone four different times to space. On his last mission, he spent almost a year in the International Space Station as part of a research project that sought to study the health effects of long-term spaceflight on the human body.
During this stay, Scott took a lot of photographs documenting his life and the life of his crew members on the ISS. He also took a bunch of panoramic pictures of the planet as the ship orbited Earth.
This book is a compilation of more than 300 of these images. It is a very interesting way to experience through his eyes this accomplishment of living in space that only a few people have had the honor to experiment.
Kelly is an experienced author. His other book, Endurance, is a New York Times Bestseller.
The production value of the book could be better. In fact, I’m not sure I would call this a “hardcover” as the binding is quite soft, but the content makes up for it as it is extremely interesting.
Moonshots: 50 Years of NASA Space Exploration Seen through Hasselblad Cameras
The Apollo program is the most important endeavor in space exploration the world has seen. The whole country came together to put a man on the Moon through the thousands of scientists, engineers, and experts that worked at NASA. It is a story worth telling.
This book searches through the Hasselblad cameras that were used during the missions to find the most impactful photos of the multiple Apollo missions.
The book is 238 pages long and includes pictures of the launches, ships, landers, astronauts, satellites, and of course, the Moon landing.
There is a softcover version of Moonshots, but if you want it as a coffee table book, it is worth spending a little bit more on the hardcover.
Best for design geeks – National Aeronautics and Space Administration Graphics Standards Manual
For the design enthusiast this book is amazing. What if NASA published its internal graphic design manuals? well, here it is.
While this book isn’t officially published by NASA, a good chunk of its content was taken and adapted from official materials.
The book is very clean and well made. It really is a collector’s piece for anyone who is both into design and space.
Even the unboxing experience is nice. The 220 pages book comes in an anti-static package that serves two functions. It gives you the illusion of unpacking top-secret documents and also protects it during shipping.
It is important to note that there’s a second edition that is cheaper but it is printed on significantly worse materials and the difference is very noticeable. The version linked here is the one we recommend.