In­tro­duc­ing As­tron­omy

A Guide to the Uni­verse

Sky at Night Magazine - - BOOKS -

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)

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