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The Cambridge Illustrated History of Astronomy (Cambridge Illustrated Histories)

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1st Edition edition (28 Nov. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521411580
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521411585
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 3.3 x 25.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 122,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


'… has the weight of authority you would expect from a combination of Cambridge University Press and an author who was formerly head of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science in Cambridge. Everything from Stonehenge to the Hubble Space Telescope, with potted biographies as well as great ideas, good illustrations, a useful glossary and a chronology.' Good Book Guide

'The Cambridge Illustrated History of Astronomy is a book that professional as well as amateur historians of science should have on their bookshelves … beautifully illustrated … You will find yourself sitting down to glance at this book and end up reading late into the night … well written and a wonderful source of information.' Raymond F. Haynes, Metascience

'… a hardbound book of such size and attractiveness for £25 is remarkable value … a volume that historians, librarians and enthusiasts will want to have within easy reach for many years to come.' P. D. Hingley, Astronomy and Geophysics

'… the best account of the history of astronomy in one volume to date.' Albert van Helden, Journal for the History of Astronomy

'The illustrations (both colour and black and white) are not only beautifully reproduced, but opportunity has been taken to use some which have never or rarely been seen before … This is a book that has been produced at a price that is very reasonable, and I would recommend it to all who have an interest in the history of astronomy.' A. J. Kinder, Journal of the British Astronomical Association

'… well written and a wonderful source of information.' AAHPSSS

'… a most useful and enjoyable book, published at what is, by present-day standards, a very reasonable price. Strongly recommended.' Sir Patrick Moore, Modern Astronomer

'… excellent book.' Martin Ince, The Times Higher Education Supplement

'… beautifully produced, sumptuously illustrated, well organised and accessible.' Allan Chapman, Astronomy Now

'This is a lavishly illustrated and well produced account of astronomical theory and practice from earliest times to the present day.' Aslib Book Guide

'Reading this excellent book will give everyone an understanding of how great scientists work and how their work has produced great astronomy.' Paul Murdin, Endeavour

'… this is a fine volume which treats its topics thoroughly and fills a niche in the current historical literature in astronomy. Considering some of the prices charged now for such books this can be regarded as a bargain and comes highly recommended.' Robert Argyle, The Observatory

Book Description

Expertly written and lavishly illustrated, The Cambridge Illustrated History of Astronomy offers a unique account of astronomical theory and practice from antiquity to the present day. Packed with anecdotes and intriguing detail, this is a lively and highly visual history of astronomy - a compelling read for specialists and non-specialists alike.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent book with lots of background detail in one convenient source.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x93841018) out of 5 stars 9 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x934bae40) out of 5 stars Beautifully written and illustrated 12 Jun. 2000
By Jay Strader - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is the single best history of astronomy I've ever encountered. Not only is the narrative interesting, the pictures--from William Herschel's journal pages describing his discovery of Uranus to full-page illuminations of the Cartesian cosmology--enhance the experience even more than one might expect. At less than ( ), this book is a must for any astronomy buff.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9373d108) out of 5 stars Not a Finer History of Astronomy Available 1 April 2007
By Steve R - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Like other works in this series, the Cambridge 'Illustrated History of Astronomy' is both a useful reference work and a visually entertaining table-top book. Combined, those two elements make for an excellent history of the science of astronomy.

The scholarship is top-notch: Michael Hoskin is the editor and a contributor, and other contributors include J.A. Bennett, Owen Gingerich, Clive Ruggles, Christopher Cullen and David Dewhirst--superb scholars all. They cover the history of astronomy from prehistory, through the invention of the telescope and the scientific revolution, to the rise of astrophysics and beyond. Astronomy in non-western cultures (China, India, Islam) is also covered, and makes a welcome addition to the traditional Euro-centric story.

But the illustrations (many in color) really make the book: pictures, graphs, sidebars, frontispieces, manuscript pages, newspaper clippings, paintings, etc. enhance the written portion and make it that much more informative.

In sum, this may be the most useful and enjoyable book on the history of astronomy in print.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x934b86e4) out of 5 stars Comprehensive coverage of the history of astronomy 29 Mar. 2000
By Gary Thomas - Published on
Format: Hardcover
An excellent survey with both breadth and depth, covering non-European astronomy (for example the Dresden Codex - a Mayan calendar), the difficulties of the Geo-centric model, the development of the telescope, modern astrophysics, up to the Hubble Space Telescope. Includes a great many sidebars with much peripheral information (I did not know that Herschel was an organist by trade).
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x934c87ec) out of 5 stars Masterpice! 9 Nov. 2000
By Helmer Aslaksen - Published on
Format: Hardcover
When you see a "coffee table" book like this, you sometimes wonder about whether the writing is going to match the pictures, but with people like Michael Hoskin, Christopher Cullen and Owen Gingerich writing the text, you know that this one is going to be a winner even before you open it. Let me just say that the pictures and the desing in fantastic, and that the writing is at a level suitable for the general public without being "dumbed down". Trust me, you're going to enjoy this one!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9345803c) out of 5 stars History of Astronomy 22 May 2008
By Zoltan Ring - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book immensely, because it combines two of my favorite topics, history and science, and shows how one makes the other. The book is lavishly illustrated with photographs of stone tablets, astronomical instruments, original sketches, and drawings to underpin its narrative of history of astronomy. The book takes the reader from antiquity thru Copernicus to Hobble in a narrative that is gripping as the quest for knowledge and understanding of the universe unfolds.

As a scientist in microelectronics, I appreciated how people of different ages developed a concept of the universe based on their sometimes incomprehensible observational data; how that concept changed due to the ever increasing accuracy of observation; and how the need for more accurate observation drove the need for improvements in instrumentation.

Unlike a typical astronomy (or engineering) textbook that lists facts that is perhaps a culmination of a thoughtprocess of many generations, this book tries to answer the even more important question, how did they figure that? - outlining breakthrough concepts and how and why they were arrived at but not dragging the reader down in detail.

The history of astronomy is the history of people (and not that of a single genius), and how scientists and astronomers built on the results of the previous generation, sometimes tearing concepts down, but ever improving our view. There have been some very smart people in the past in astronomy and in other sciences; and it is incredible what they accomplished with what little they had. The book pays respect to these individuals, as we all should, as we all stand on the shoulders of these giants.
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