Cover image for The stars of heaven
The stars of heaven
Pickover, Clifford A.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xx, 233 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Stellar parallax and the quest for transcendence -- joy and Paschen of starlight -- Spectral classes, temperatures, and doppler shifts -- Luminosity and the distance modulus -- Hertzsprung-Russell, mass-luminosity relations, and binary stars -- Last tango on the heliopause -- Stellar evolution and the helium flash -- Stellar graveyards, nucleosynthesis, and why we exist -- Some final thoughts.
Subject Term:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QB801 .P53 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Do a little armchair space travel, rub elbows with alien life forms, and stretch your mind to the furthest corners of our uncharted universe. With this astonishing guide book, The Stars of Heaven, you need not be an astronomer to explore the mysteries of stars and their profound meaning forhuman existence. Stars have fascinated humankind since the dawn of history and have allowed us to transcend ordinary lives in our literature, art, and religions. In fact, humans have always looked to the stars as a source of inspiration and transcendence that lifts us beyond the boundaries of ordinaryintuition. In the tradition of One Two Three... Infinity, Pickover tackles a range of topics from stellar evolution to the fundamental and awe-inspiring reasons why the universe permits life to flourish. Where did we come from? What is the universe's ultimate fate? Pickover alternates sections thatexplain the mysteries of the cosmos with sections that dramatize mind-expanding concepts through a fictional dialog between futuristic humans and their alien peers who embark on a journey beyond the reader's wildest imagination. This highly accessible and entertaining approach turns an intimidatingsubject into a scientific game open to all dreamers. Told in Clifford Pickover's inimitable blend of fascinating state-of-the-art science and whimsical science fiction, and packed with numerous diagrams and illustrations, The Stars of Heaven unfolds a world of paradox and mystery, one that will intrigue anyone who has ever pondered the night skywith wonder.

Author Notes

Clifford A. Pickover is an associate editor of several journals and a prolific inventor, and his science web site,, has received over a million visits. Pickover is also the author of many best-selling books on popular science topics

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

The indefatigable Pickover presents an introduction to the evolution and behavior of "a veritable zoo of strange stars," from our sun, a run-of-the-mill main sequence yellow "dwarf," to supergiants larger than the orbit of Jupiter to pulsars, neutron stars, black holes, and lesser-known bizarre stellar products. In a blend of science and science fiction, he utilizes a pair of quirky space travelers to present concepts and relevant formulas. Bob, a futuristic human, is curator of an intergalactic art museum. His diamond-bodied scolex companion, Mr. Plex, can survive the harshness of space and will perform any experiment Bob asks him to. This educational device has its fun moments, but some serious readers may find it a bit much. Beyond that, there's plenty here to contemplate, since without exploding stars, there would be no "seagull cries, computer chips, trilobites, Beethovens, or the tears of a little girl." Pickover is one of popular science's most prolific and animated writers as well as a multitalented inventor, puzzlemaker, and graphic artist. Explore his Web site at --David Siegfried

Table of Contents

Introductionp. x
Chapter 1 Stellar Parallax and the Quest for Transcendencep. 1
Chapter 2 The Joy and Paschen of Starlightp. 14
Chapter 3 Spectral Classes, Temperatures, and Doppler Shiftsp. 39
Chapter 4 Luminosity and the Distance Modulusp. 58
Chapter 5 Hertzsprung-Russell, Mass-Luminosity Relations, and Binary Starsp. 71
Chapter 6 Last Tango on the Heliopausep. 90
Chapter 7 Stellar Evolution and the Helium Flashp. 117
Chapter 8 Stellar Graveyards, Nucleosynthesis, and Why We Existp. 142
Chapter 9 Some Final Thoughtsp. 188
Notesp. 198
Appendix 1. Stars in the Biblep. 212
Appendix 2. Updates and Breakthroughsp. 217
Further Readingp. 224
About the Authorp. 226
Indexp. 229