- The History of Astronomy
- How to Observe the Sky
- The Solar System
- The Moon
- The Planets
- The Sun and the Stars
- Comets and Meteors
- Galaxies, Black Holes and Quasars
- What Lies Beyond...
- Moon and Planet Maps
- Star Finder Charts
- Constellation Maps.
Well priced, informative and fully illustrated, this is a valuable companion for stargazers of all ages.
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About the Author
Nigel Henbest was Astronomy Consultant to New Scientist magazine, Editor of the Journal of the British Astronomical Association, and Media Consultant to the Royal Greenwich Observatory.
The team were authors of The History of Astronomy.
Table of ContentsContents
Observing the sky The Moon Planets Cosmic vermin Sun Stars Cosmos Constellations Reference Index Acknowledgments Photo credits
What Is Astronomy?
Picture a breathtakingly clear starry, starry night. The heavens are spangled with diamonds, glittering against the black velvet of space . . .
Each of these thousands of stars has a personality; each has its own story to tell.
Our ancestors saw the sky as a starscape, just as we see a landscape on Earth. And, just as we make maps of our world, they joined up the dots in the sky, making them into the constellation patterns we know today. To ensure that farmers and navigators at sea knew the star patterns, they invoked well-known stories to describe them.
Against this tableau of bears, giants, celestial crosses and flying swans, the heavens can give us surprises: an outburst of shooting stars; a comet; the glorious display of the Northern or Southern lights, with their swirling curtains of red and green, or even an exploding star.
Then we have our much-loved Moon, whose face changes from day-to-day as it orbits the Earth. And the planets, from Mercury to Neptune, grace our skies every night of the year. Our local star, the Sun, puts in an appearance every day (weather permitting).
This is astronomy: a celebration of the beauty of the heavens, and a science that now brings in physics, chemistry, mathematics and biology.
But the glory of astronomy is that it's not brain surgery. Anyone can do it.
You can delight in the heavens by lying on your steamer or deck chair and gazing at the stars and planets, or you can bring them closer by using binoculars or a telescope. You could even go the whole way and do an astronomy or astrophysics degree at university. That is what you need to be a pro.
Professional astronomy today is truly awesome. A whole armory of sophisticated and powerful equipment around the world is trained on the sky, as well as massive telescopes in space. Who can forget the "Pillars of Creation" image from the Hubble Space Telescope?
Astronomers launch probes to the planets, and one of them may have found primitive life on Mars. They have discovered objects beyond the imagination of their predecessors: supernovae (exploding stars), white dwarfs, quasars, pulsars (ultra-dense stars whirling around faster than you can blink) and black holes. They have even pinned down the origin of the Universe itself to a Big Bang nearly 14 billion years ago.
Astronomy is an adventure and this book shows how you can be part of it. The sky's the limit!