Maggie Aderin-Pocock’s book runs the gamut of astronomy’s origins, classes of celestial objects, their appearance and how amateur and professional astronomers study them in ten easily digestible chapters. “Not so much a beginners’ guide; more a taster … I feel that unappeased appetites will soon be searching for richer meat,” says reviewer Steve Ringwood.
Scores of brave Major Toms have been fired into space atop the most powerful rockets known to man, yet the responsibility for getting them there — and back — rested with the mission controllers in Houston. “Unsung heroes? Heroes, certainly. But after this firecracker of a book, no longer unsung,” says reviewer Andy Sawers.
The focus of Maria Golia’s book is not in the scientific details, but squarely on the place of meteorites in various aspects of human culture. Interspersed among the various sections are full-page images of meteorites as viewed under the microscope. “This is an extremely well-researched book … renewed my interest in meteorites in general,” says reviewer John Rowlands.
Stephen Petranek’s book does not deal with the reasons for exploring the Red Planet, but does outline many of the problems that will be encountered getting to Mars and overcome in order to live on its surface. Reviewer Greg Smye-Rumsby states that the book touches on many aspects of space travel and independent living on Mars, but does so at the cost of detail. “However … it certainly has crammed a great deal in. A worthwhile read,” he says.
The history of astronomy and how ancient peoples interpreted the Sun, Moon and planets through mythology, legends, art and popular culture is a fascinating one. However, reviewer I. Fontaine finds some serious errors in Rachel Alexander’s book. “It’s a rare example of reading something that overwhelms and disappoints in equal measure,” says Fontaine.
With accessible prose and relentless curiosity, Chris Impey’s book reports on China’s plan to launch its own space station by 2020, proves that humans could survive on Mars, and unveils cutting-edge innovations poised to replace rockets at a fraction of the cost. “Beyond is a compelling book with great attention to detail and science that is awe inspiring — it is a stellar read indeed,” says reviewer Alex Green.
How did our modern picture of the universe come into being? Helge Kragh’s book tells this fascinating story in an unusual format that blends factual and fictional elements. The ‘interviewees’ are a collection of eminent twentieth century cosmologists, among them Einstein, Eddington, De Sitter, Hoyle, Arrhenius, Dirac and Schwarzschild. Reviewed by Ian Welland.
Piers Bizony’s book gives the reader an insight into the twenty-first century’s new era of human spaceflight with Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and more vying with traditional space agencies and emerging space-faring nations such as China. Reviewer Kulvinder Singh Chadha says that Bizony successfully captures what is happening right now in this generously-sized book with lush images aplenty.
Authors Couper and Henbest are great storytellers with an eye for a colourful character, says reviewer Andy Sawers. Novice stargazers looking for an introduction to the great milestones and personalities of astronomy will want to read it, while knowledgeable astronomers will enjoy the enthusiastic storytelling, he adds.