Cover image for The Scientific American book of astronomy
The Scientific American book of astronomy
Scientific American, inc.
Publication Information:
New York : Lyons Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xi, 372 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Subject Term:
Added Corporate Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QB43.2 .S38 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Space has and confounded human beings since our earliest ancestors captivated first gazed upward toward the starry heavens. From the seventeenth century, when Galileo viewed the moon through his newly invented telescope, to the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope just a few years ago, mankind has pursued the quest to unlock the mysteries of the universe. Indeed, the quest itself seems infinite, as is made abundantly clear by the breadth of scientific theory and research contained within these pages.

Now, for the first time in book form, "The Scientific American Book of Astronomy" compiles over thirty articles culled from the magazine, written by some of the biggest names presently working in the field. Included here is Leonard Susskind on "Black Holes and the Information Paradox, " Kenneth R. Lang on newly discovered "Secrets of the Sun, " and David H. Levy and Eugene Shoemaker on the heart-stopping 1995 collision between Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 and Jupiter. Read about the newest theory of the self-reproducing universe. Learn how a meteorite found in Antarctica offers strong evidence of life on Mars. Divided into categories including "The Universe, " "Galaxies, " and "Planets, " among others, these articles present cutting-edge technology, as well as the history of discoveries that have shaped our understanding of space. With black-and-white illustrations and a color section, this book will take readers to new heights of knowledge and imagination.

Author Notes

Timothy Ferris is emeritus professor at the University of California, Berkeley

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

For the library that pitches its periodicals, this anthology provides a chance to restore lost knowledge. The articles explore, in more detail than a newspaper article but less than a professional paper, the headlines that astronomy has made in the 1990s--possible microscopic life in a Mars rock, a comet hitting Jupiter, the inflationary universe. They are gathered under the general divisions of astronomy, so that whether one gravitates toward the planets, the sun, stellar evolution, the Milky Way, galactic evolution, or the whole shebang (aka cosmology), a sampling of the latest discoveries is on offer. Some articles have already become quasiclassics, such as that of Alan Guth, who dreamed up the theory of inflation (the big bang kind, not the economic one). Each article exudes the vibrancy of contemporary astronomy and astrophysics, as it draws back the veils that have hitherto concealed planets around other stars, sound waves in the sun, the influence of dark matter on galaxies, and more. The consummate public library title. --Gilbert Taylor

Library Journal Review

Anthologies like these are reliable money-makers for publishers, but they are often regarded with ambivalence by librarians because their contents are reprints of articles usually available elsewhere. In these books, the editors of the venerable Scientific American have selected what they declare to be the "best" articles from recent issues and arranged them in topical sectionsÄ"Astronomy" has chapters on stars, galaxies, and the universe, for example. But this kind of organization lends only a superficial cohesiveness, because each of these articles was written to stand alone, and although each one covers its specific topic admirably, the sampling barely represents current knowledge in the broader field; most science reference librarians would be able to recommend any number of recent monographs that cover these subjects more comprehensively. Among these, ironically, would be two books by the scholars who wrote introductions to these volumes: Timothy Ferris's The Whole Shebang and Antonio Damasio's Descartes' Error. Make no mistake, however: because of the books' high quality, they'd surely circulate in public libraries. Some of the articles (like Guth's piece on the inflationary universe, Rubin's on dark matter, Crick's on consciousness, and Nemeroff's on depression) might even be considered classics of popular science. Still, library budgets are lean; unless your library does not subscribe to Scientific American, this is an optional purchase.ÄGregg Sapp, Univ. of Miami Lib., Coral Gables, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

YA-A collection of 32 essays culled from the magazine that looks at the cutting-edge topics of space exploration by some of the biggest names in the field. One article describes the collision of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter, and another speculates on what Earth would be like with the inhospitable environment of Venus. Bruce M. Jakosky, an investigator on the Mars Global Surveyor mission, addresses the question of where we might look for life in our solar system. Andrei Linde begins his article by saying, "If my colleagues and I are right, we may soon be saying good-bye to the idea that our universe was a single fireball created in the big bang. We are exploring a new theory-which basically says the universe consists of many inflating balls that produce new balls, which in turn produce more balls, ad infinitum." The collection concludes with Shannon Lucid's description of her preparation for and experiences on the Russian space station Mir. All of the articles are well written and accessible to students with a background in the physical sciences.-Cynthia J. Rieben, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Timothy FerrisBradley E. SchaeferJames W. Cronin and Thomas K. Gaisser and Simon P. SwordyGerald J. Fishman and Dieter H. HartmannDavid H. Levy and Eugene M. Shoemaker and Carolyn S. ShoemakerTom GehrelsJane X. Luu and David C. JewittPaul R. WeissmanJanet G. Luhmann and James B. Pollack and Lawrence ColinEverett K. Gibson Jr. and David S. McKay and Kathie Thomas-Keprta and Christopher S. RomanekJeffrey S. Kargel and Robert G. StromBruce M. JakoskyDavid C. BlackAlan P. BossTsvi PiranKenneth R. LangJohn K. Cannizzo and Ronald H. KaitchuckSidney van den Bergh and James E. HesserJ. Patrick Henry and Ulrich G. Briel and Hans BohringerSylvain Veilleux and Gerald Cecil and Jonathan Bland-HawthornVera RubinMichael DisneyF. Duccio Macchetto and Mark DickinsonP. James E. Peebles and David N. Schramm and Edwin L. Turner and Richard G. KronCraig J. HoganVera RubinAlan H. Guth and Paul J. SteinhardtAndrei LindeLeonard SusskindWendy L. FreedmanEric J. ChaissonTim BeardsleyShannon W. Lucid
Introductionp. ix
I Rays, Waves, and Particlesp. 1
Gamma-Ray Burstersp. 3
Cosmic Rays at the Energy Frontierp. 13
Gamma-Ray Burstsp. 21
II Comets, Asteroids, and Meteoritesp. 31
Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 Meets Jupiterp. 33
Collisions with Comets and Asteroidsp. 43
The Kuiper Beltp. 53
The Oort Cloudp. 63
III Planetsp. 73
The Pioneer Mission to Venusp. 75
The Case for Relic Life on Marsp. 87
Global Climatic Change on Marsp. 99
Searching for Life in Our Solar Systemp. 109
Worlds around Other Starsp. 117
IV Starsp. 129
Collapse and Formation of Starsp. 131
Binary Neutron Starsp. 141
SOHO Reveals the Secrets of the Sunp. 153
Accretion Disks in Interacting Binary Starsp. 163
V Galaxiesp. 177
How the Milky Way Formedp. 179
The Evolution of Galaxy Clustersp. 191
Colossal Galactic Explosionsp. 199
Dark Matter in Spiral Galaxiesp. 207
A New Look at Quasarsp. 221
Galaxies in the Young Universep. 229
VI The Universep. 239
The Evolution of the Universep. 241
Primordial Deuterium and the Big Bangp. 251
Dark Matter in the Universep. 259
The Inflationary Universep. 267
The Self-Reproducing Inflationary Universep. 285
Black Holes and the Information Paradoxp. 297
The Expansion Rate and Size of the Universep. 309
VII Technologyp. 319
Early Results from the Hubble Space Telescopep. 321
The International Space Stationp. 333
Six Months on Mirp. 341
About the Authorsp. 353
Indexp. 363