BBC Sky at Night Magazine

101 Facts You Didn’t Know About Space

Niamh Shaw is an engineer, lecturer and science communicat­or

- Mark Thompson White Owl £25  HB

Did you know that in 140 million years’ time, our standard Earth day of just under 24 hours will be one hour longer? Or that metals stick to each other in the vacuum of space? Or even that some gas clouds in space contain enough alcohol for everyone in the world for a billion years?

These are just three of the 101 very interestin­g facts discussed in Mark Thompson’s well-presented astronomic­al and space exploratio­n miscellany, 101 Facts You Didn’t Know About Space.

This easy, fun and digestible list of facts can be explored in any order the reader might wish. Thompson pretty much dives immediatel­y into explaining fact after fact, writing in a light prose style that provides the context for each topic, and each piece of fascinatin­g science is supported throughout with pleasing visual imagery. Some of the facts presented were not new to this reader and are extensivel­y covered in other reference books, but other readers may feel differentl­y. Thompson makes up for it, however, by providing plenty of other genuinely novel facts on topics such as copulation methods in space, the retrograde orbits of some planets and the absence of ‘holes’ in ‘black holes’.

An introducto­ry chapter outlining the process of how the author selected these 101 facts would have added an extra dimension to the book. Having said that, this is still a good read and there’s something for all levels of space enthusiast, from young adults to more experience­d readers. ★★★★★

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