Astronomy - Recent Discoveries and Developments
by Paul Rumsby
Astronomy - Recent Discoveries and Developments Gathers the most significant, ground breaking, headline making stories and presents them in an easy to read, easy to understand format. Each section is accompanied by colour images and illustrations which beautifully reinforces the subject. Makes essential reading for interested laypersons, Amateur and Professional Astronomers, In fact anyone with an attraction for this fascinating and absorbing subject.
The Perfect Catch-Up
The Perfect Introduction
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Written by Govert Schilling.
Published by Springer
Just over four hundred years ago a relatively simple device called the telescope was invented in Middelburg, in the Netherlands and man turned new eyes to the night sky. He saw for the first time a majesty beyond belief, new wonders that would dispel old ideas forever and thrust mans enquiring mind on a journey to the far reaches of the Universe
The telescope started a revolution of discovery and transformed our view of the planet we live on and its place in the cosmos. Atlas of Astronomical Discoveries takes one hundred of the most significant of these breakthroughs and tells the story behind the science. Stories of persistence, perseverance, human endeavour and sheer good luck abound in all fields and Astronomy, it seems, is no exception. In truth, the full story behind any one of these discoveries deserves a much larger stage but here we have a snapshot, a snippet of the lives and events surrounding some of the most dramatic leaps in human understanding ever seen.
Each new discovery forms a two page spread in this large format book. On one page individual snippets are told in roughly five hundred words, about the same length as this review and are accompanied by a circular insert, the opposite leaf features a full page related image or artists impression. The images taken by probes, satellites and land and space based telescopes are stunning. It is a shame then, that more photographs - or line drawings - of the people behind the discoveries have not been used for the inserts, only Karl Jansky, the discoverer of cosmic radio waves in 1931 makes an appearance; it would be nice to put a few more faces to the names. If I was being picky I would also draw attention to the title, Atlas suggests that geographical location is important to the books structure, but no such empathise is placed on ‘where’ the discoveries took place, more importance is given to ‘when’ and ‘who’ so maybe Timeline of Astronomical Discoveries might have fitted the contents better. These two minor points, the former slightly disappointing the latter trivial, do not take anything away from the main purpose of this book, to provide the reader with brief snapshots of the most spectacular Astronomical discoveries since the invention of the telescope, in a format that is comfortable both visually and in prose
This is a book that does not demand regimented reading, in fact the book works better if the reader flips around a little, if the book is put down without the pages being marked and is picked up or reopened in different places. Nor does it expect any previous knowledge, no unpronounceable words or incalculable equations are encountered or required. Just an enjoyable book that you will pick up from time to time and wonder at Galileo’s excitement observing mountains on the moon for the very first time, at Eddington’s delight announcing his observational confirmation of Einstein’s prediction that extreme gravity will bend the path of light to a crowded meeting of the Royal Society or Stephane Udry’s incredible discovery of an earth like planet orbiting a red dwarf star twenty light years or one hundred and nineteen trillion miles from home.
24th August 2011
About the Author;
Govert Schilling is the Netherlands' most renowned astronomy journalist. His publications have appeared in newspapers and magazines all over the world. He has written over fifty books on a variety of astronomical subjects including 'The Hunt for Planet X' and 'Eyes on the Skies'. Asteroid 10986 has been named 'Govert' after him by the International Astronomical Union.