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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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Recommeded Astronomy Books


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Recommended Beginners Guide

For a generation, Astronomy: A Self Teaching Guide has introduced hundreds of thousands of readers worldwide to the night sky. Now this classic beginner′s guide has been completely revised to bring it up to date with the latest discoveries and graphics.

Get up to 39% off the recommended retail price on this title with free delivery options in the UK

Featured Book Review

Review of The Kaguya Lunar Atlas

Written by Motomaro Shirao and Charles Wood.
Published by Springer

On September 14th 2007 the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the SELENE lunar orbiter. SELENE’s mission was to further our understanding of the Moons origin, its surface environment and gravitational field. Amongst a host of science experiments the orbiter carried a High Definition Television camera (HDTV) specifically placed to capture panoramic ‘astronaut’ views of the lunar surface.

SELENE, named after the Greek Moon Goddess but nicknamed Kaguya by the Japanese people after a mythical lunar princess, required a full year to image the lunar surface under optimal conditions. The HDTV camera captured significant surface features, impact craters, maria, rilles, lava flows and geological faults in stunning detail.

The Kaguya Lunar Atlas is a compilation of images from the HDTV. Split into two sections, part one explores the orbiters technology and mission objectives, some impressive images of Earthrise and the Earth’s phases as seen by the orbiter’s cameras are included and goes on to detail the types of surface features captured. The remainder of the book depict one hundred image plates, each accompanied by a well written, detailed essay of the main features displayed. Seventy seven plates show landforms on the Earth facing side of the moon, the balance on the far side. The image scale varies throughout as Kaguya’s altitude above the lunar surface drops from 116 to 21km. The following image, used here with permission from JAXA, is one of the best examples of a lunar fault captured by the HDTV. The famous Straight Wall or Rupes Recta stretches 110km across the floor of an ancient impact crater whose western (left) side has sunken beneath the encroaching lavas of Mare Nubium.

HDTV-Rupes Recta, Image Credit/Copyright JAXA/NHK

The Kaguya Lunar Atlas works well in several ways. As a coffee table book it will grab and hold the attention of casual readers and is great to dip into occasionally as each page can be enjoyed in isolation. The book encourages readers to interpret the images for themselves, with a little experience one can examine the landforms and begin to work out the formation and modification processes without relying solely on the text. In effect, you learn to read the Moon. If you own a telescope, applying this knowledge at the eyepiece will almost certainly enhance lunar observing sessions and detail that may otherwise have been overlooked can be pursued and with far greater understanding. As a visual catalogue of significant lunar features the book simply excels. In the following example, again from the HDTV and used with permission from JAXA, the crater Archimedes is the right size and has the terraced walls of a complex crater but is missing the central peaks that would further denote this crater type. Further investigation reveal the floor of the crater is the same dark hued material of Mare Imbrium surrounding it, implying the crater has been flooded with mare lavas at some point, completely covering the central peaks.

HDTV-Archimedes, Image Credit/Copyright JAXA/NHK

What gives this book the edge over other lunar image compilations is not just the detail and quality inherent on every plate but the oblique angle at which they were captured. The images give a unique sense of actually being there. The images included in this review are cropped versions supplied by JAXA, images in the book have wider fields of view.

Kaguya completed all mission objectives successfully and was impacted into the lunar surface close to crater Gill at 18.25 on June 10th 2009. The book contains the last six images sent back to Earth just before the controlled impact.

Paul Rumsby
27th September 2011

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About the Authors;
Motomaro Shirao has been a free-lance photographer and science writer since he finished his Master Course in Volcanic Geology at the University of Tokyo in 1980. He has written many articles about the Moon, volcanoes, geology, and geomorphology. His publications include Graphic Natural History of Volcanoes, Geology and Geomorphology of Japan, Basics of the Moon, and Wonderful Landscapes of the World (all written in Japanese). He is a co-investigator of Kaguya's Terrain Camera and HDTV.

Charles Wood is a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona and director of the Center for Educational Technologies at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia. He is the author of The New Moon – A Personal View, published in 2003; The Lunar 100 Chart in 2004; and has written monthly columns about the Moon since 1999 for Sky & Telescope magazine. He is the originator of the websites Lunar Photo of the Day and The Moon Wiki. He studies the Moon with the latest spacecraft images and with a small telescope in his backyard.