Cover image for The universal book of astronomy : from the Andromeda Galaxy to the zone of avoidance
The universal book of astronomy : from the Andromeda Galaxy to the zone of avoidance
Darling, David J.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Hoboken, N.J. : John Wiley, [2004]

Physical Description:
v, 570 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color), maps ; 25 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QB14 .D37 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The ultimate guide to the final frontier
This alphabetical tour of the universe provides all the history, science, and up-to-the-minute facts needed to explore the skies with authority. Packed with more than 3,000 entries that cover everything from major observatories and space telescopes to biographies of astronomers throughout the ages, it showcases an extraordinary array of newfound wonders, including microquasars, brown dwarfs, and dark energy, as well as a host of individual comets, asteroids, moons, planets, stars, nebulas, and galaxies. Featuring nearly 200 illustrations and eight pages of color photographs, this comprehensive guide provides easy lookup of topics and offers more in-depth information than can be found in existing star guides or astronomy dictionaries. It's an ideal resource for the amateur astronomer or anyone with an interest in the mysteries of the cosmos.
David Darling, PhD (Brainerd, MN), is the author of The Complete Book of Spaceflight (0-471-05649-9) and Equations of Eternity, a New York Times Notable Book.

Author Notes

DAVID DARLING, Ph.D., is the author of The Complete Book of Spaceflight (Wiley); Life Everywhere; The Extraterrestrial Encyclopedia; Deep Time; Equations of Eternity (a New York Times Notable Book); Soul Search; and Zen Physics. He received his doctorate in astronomy from the University of Manchester, England, and now lives with his family in rural Minnesota. More information on astronomy and spaceflight may be found at

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Science writer Darling (The Complete Book of Spaceflight; Equations of Eternity) has created a first-rate resource for readers and students of popular astronomy and general science. Unlike The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Amateur Astronomy-which is excellent but really written as a textbook for observers-The Universal Book is a true encyclopedia, with over 3000 alphabetically arranged entries covering history, biography, celestial objects, cosmological phenomena, and more. Some entries are brief, providing good, simple definitions of terms readers may encounter in books and articles geared toward the amateur astronomer. Other entries, when the topics warrant, provide more in-depth information and photos or illustrations. As a whole, the entries are written in a spare style that is easily understood but never dumbed down. This work addresses all the subdisciplines of astronomy, as would a less-expensive dictionary of astronomy, but offers more detail and fills the information gaps that exist in many skywatchers' field guides. Darling's introduction includes notes for using the book and a brief explanation of exponential notation and units. A list of references, related web sites, and a category index (all unseen by this reviewer) should make this an even more useful reference. Highly recommended for public libraries and essential for high school and undergraduate college libraries supporting general science, astronomy, and physics courses.-Denise Hamilton, Heritage Christian Sch., Rindge, NH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Designed for nonspecialists, Darling's volume fills a niche in astronomy ready reference. Although the 3,000 entries vary greatly in length, particular emphasis and detail cover the latest developments, e.g., description of new planets and ongoing findings about Mars. In contrast to Jacqueline Mitton's The Cambridge Dictionary of Astronomy (2001), Darling offers longer, more detailed articles and a number of both black-and-white and color illustrations. He also supplies a category index, grouping entries by subject and research area. In comparison with A Dictionary of Astronomy, ed. by Ian Ridpath (CH, Mar'04), which has many contributors from all fields in astronomy and a higher academic tone, Darling's book has slight disadvantages in its sole authorship and its intended audience of amateurs. The volume is, however, highly readable and provides bonuses in 22 star charts outlining all 88 constellations in both north and south celestial hemispheres, instructional aids throughout the text, and charts that accompany entries for many stars, galaxies, and clusters and show size, position, etc. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels. J. Duffy Ohio State University

Table of Contents

How to Use This Book
Exponential Notation
Astronomy Entries A to Z. Star Charts