A Guide to the Universe
Iain Nicolson Dunedin £9.99 PB
Writing an introduction to astronomy can be a daunting task when you consider the sheer volume of information available, but Iain Nicolson has done it well. Introducing Astronomy: A Guide to the Universe is written in an accessible style that takes the reader on a journey of discovery through the most important aspects of both.
The guidebook begins with our place in space and how the sky changes over time, before moving on to cover the Solar System. Nicolson explores star birth, life and death, and explains intricate and complex subjects such as black holes, stellar spectra, the basics of galaxies and dark matter with ease.
Towards the end of the book there is an examination of the relatively new field of exoplanets and how life may have formed, and a final chapter that discusses astronomy kit. Here, he briefly summarises the basics of telescope design and light gathering capability before touching on robotic exploration, such as that performed by Curiosity on Mars, and what CCD imaging reveals about the Universe.
The choice of images is impressive, while the many charts and diagrams – clear and informative without being over complex or cluttered – add to the book’s usefulness. Overall, it achieves what it sets out to do. This concise introduction to astronomy would make a great gift for those developing an interest in the night sky.
PAUL MONEY is BBC Sky at Night Magazine’s reviews editor
Reader price £8.99, subscriber price £8.50 P&P £1.99 Code: S0215/1 (until 25/03/15)