Published online by Cambridge University Press: 24 May 2010
Human beings are curious by nature and have marveled at the night sky ever since our Homo sapiens ancestors first gazed up into the heavens. What is “up there”? Why do stars shine? How did the Universe begin? Does life exist elsewhere? What is on the other side of the Moon?
Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences, but modern physics and technology, coupled with observations from space, have recently generated a stupendous wave of new knowledge. Most of our earliest questions about the nature of the Universe have now been answered, and many unexpected, intriguing new findings have been made, findings that invite us to be both humble and bold. And one needs not be a professional astronomer or physicist to understand them.
Our intent in writing this book has been to offer to the general reader a summary of current astronomical knowledge, generously illustrated and provided with rigorous but simple explanations, while avoiding mystifying professional jargon.
The 250 “windows” on astronomy in this book do not exhaust the topic, but we hope that they will pique the curiosity of our readers and stimulate them to explore further, by navigating on the World Wide Web or by consulting some of the many fine publications on astronomy, such as those suggested at the end of this book. Most important of all, we hope that they will find renewed wonder in the night sky!
- A Question and Answer Guide to Astronomy , pp. xiii - xivPublisher: Cambridge University PressPrint publication year: 2010