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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
May 2010
Print publication year:
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Book description

Are we alone in the Universe? Was there anything before the Big Bang? Are there other universes? What are sunspots? What is a shooting star? Was there ever life on Mars? This book answers the fascinating questions that we have been asking ourselves for hundreds of years. Using non-technical language, the authors summarize current astronomical knowledge, taking care to include the important underlying scientific principles. Plentiful color illustrations, graphs and photographs lend further weight to their simple yet meticulously written explanations. An extensive bibliography allows you to pursue or recap on the subjects that rouse your particular interest. Dip in to discover and learn fascinating facts about our Solar System and the Universe beyond!


‘… the authors tackle an amazing range of questions. Regardless of how advanced you consider yourself in astronomy … I don’t doubt you will find this trio’s collaborative effort intriguing and highly thought provoking - and that you’ll probably need to reread one or more entries at least twice to digest the full scope of the information presented. I think this work should reside on every astronomy enthusiast’s bookshelf; it will certainly sit on mine.’

Chris Raymond Source: Astronomy

'I would recommend this book whether you know a lot or a little: it is full of memorable snippets, clear and satisfying reasoning, and enough facts to keep you entertained for a very long time.'

Source: Astronomy Now

'The book would be extremely useful for teachers who are looking for quick, clear, and authoritative answers for pre-college students, for professors teaching introductory college astronomy, and who need analogies and other ways to explain complex topics such as dark energy and even string theory, and for parents who may be challenged by their children's curiosity about the night sky and all things astronomical.'

Sidney Wolff Source: Astronomy Education Review

'… the guide is informative, and by successfully tackling ideas that are often misunderstood, it makes for a worthwhile and enjoyable read.'

Source: Physics World

'… a practical reference for anyone who has ever wondered what is out there, where it all comes from, and how it all works.'

Source: Spaceflight

‘Using just enough relevant pictures, diagrams, and charts, the authors provide lucid answers to the big questions that the study of astronomy tends to generate. This book will be useful to anyone curious about astronomy, mostly because it is a very good read … very enjoyable … for anyone with even a passing interest …’

Source: National Science Teachers Association

‘The fact that the authors are, respectively, an engineer specialising in telescope design, an astrophysicist, and a senior scientist at the Gemini Observatory, ensures that the underlying principles of astronomy are solidly covered, while the contents of the cosmos and … methods of exploring it are not neglected … An excellent bibliography and website list complete a very interesting book that ought to have a place on the shelves of astronomers, whatever their level of acquaintance with the noble science.’

Bob Mizon Source: Journal of the British Astronomical Association

'… I found the book thoroughly worthwhile - I learned a lot, was reminded of much and never felt patronised, although it covered some very basic material.'

Source: Contemporary Physics

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