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Cosmos: A Journey to the Beginning of Time and Space [Hardcover]

Giles Sparrow , Dava Sobel
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
RRP: 25.00
Price: 17.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

20 Sep 2007

The magnificent vault of stars emblazoning Earth's night skies are but an infinitesimal fraction of the hundreds of billions that inhabit our galaxy - and there are at least as many galaxies in the universe as there are stars in the Milky Way. Cosmos makes sense of this dizzying celestial panorama by exploring it one step at a time, illustrating the planets, moons, stars, nebulae, white dwarfs, black holes and other exotica that populate the heavens with some of science's most spectacular photographs.

The book opens with an orbital survey of planet Earth, before venturing into the solar system heading for interstellar space and the heart of our galaxy. As the journey unfolds, the rhythms of stellar life emerge: we pass through dark clouds of dust and gas ablaze with newly smelted stars and we witness dying stars bloom and fade as planetary nebulae, or tear themselves apart as supernovae. Having crossed the Milky Way, we enter intergalactic space. Out here we watch the hidden lives of galaxies: we see them flock and cluster, forming massive conglomerations that span millions of light years, visibly warping space with their tremendous gravity. After covering an almost unimaginable 13.4 billion light years, we approach the edge of space and the dawn of time where our voyage must end, but not before we consider how the universe was born, and how it might die.


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus; 2Rev Ed edition (20 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847241255
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847241252
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 36.8 x 43.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 78,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

images of staggering beauty with jaw dropping photographs - Sunday Express

From the Inside Flap

A few hundred years ago we believed the universe was bound by a crystal sphere speckled with fixed stars. Less than a century ago, we believed the Milky Way to be its entire extent. Now we know it stretches at least 130 billion trillion kilometres (80 billion trillion miles) in every direction around us. We know that the magnificent vault of stars emblazoning Earth's night skies are an infinitesimal fraction of the hundreds of billions that inhabit our galaxy, and we also know there are at least as many galaxies in the universe as there are stars in the Milky Way. We know our galaxy is a member of a cluster of galaxies, that is itself an outlying member of a supercluster 100 million light years across, which is but part of a filament that stretches a billion light years across space. Cosmos: A Field Guide makes sense of this dizzying celestial panorama by exploring it one step at a time and by illustrating the planets, moons, stars, nebulae, white dwarfs, black holes and other exotica that populate the heavens with over 450 of the most spectacular and up-to-date photographs and illustrations. We begin at home, with an orbital survey of planet Earth, before venturing deeper into the solar system via the Moon, Venus, Mercury, the Sun and Mars. Crossing the asteroid belt takes us into the outer solar system and the realm of the gas giants Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Beyond Neptune's orbit we encounter a graveyard of icy debris left over from the solar system's formation that marks the outer limits of the Sun's sphere of influence. Emerging in interstellar space, we head for the heart of our galaxy as the rhythms of stellar life unfold before our eyes: we pass through dark clouds of dust and gas ablaze with clusters of newly smelted stars, we watch dying stars bloom and fade as planetary nebulae, or tear themselves apart as supernovae. Navigating through thick swarms of stars, we reach the galactic core, a gravitational maelstrom of exotic stars in the thrall of a supermassive black hole. Having crossed the Milky Way, we enter intergalactic space. Out here we watch the hidden lives of galaxies: we see them tear their companions apart or devour them whole, we see them flock and cluster, forming massive conglomerations that span millions of light years and warp space with their tremendous gravity. As we press ever deeper into the cosmos, so we travel further back in time. After covering an almost unimaginable 13.4 billion light years, we approach the edge of space and the dawn of time where our voyage must end, but not before we consider how our universe was born, and how it might die.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A simply stunning book 6 Dec 2006
Format:Hardcover
This is a seriously beautiful book - probably the largest astronomy book I've ever seen, and the reproduction on the images is simply brilliant - I'm amazed at the level of detail in some of them (especially double-page stunners such as the Orion and Helix nebulae. The design is stylish without being overfussy, and as the previous reviewer said, it benefits immensely from being printed on black.

The text also seems well-written and informative (okay there's a handful of typos that I've noticed, but it all seems factually accurate and up to date, which is ultimately more important). And the diagrams look beautiful, for the most part - I must say that I looked straight through the Venus orbit error at first glance and had to go back and check when I saw it pointed out here. Bit of a "D'oh!" moment, definitely, and I'm sure those responsible are kicking themselves, but it's such an obvious howler that it can't possibly have been intentional. It would be good if they get that sorted out for a reprint, but you only get to rate these things once, and I'm not going to let it ruin my enjoyment of an otherwise beautiful book!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have the Dorling Kindersley book "Universe" and thought that was pretty stunning and difficult to beat, but then I read a review of this book on one of the astronomy forums and had a look on Amazon. Having read the reviews below I was assured this would be worth the purchase. The reviews did not lie!! This is quite simply the best photographic astronomy book out there at the moment. If you just want one book to inspire people and make them gawp at the awesomeness of what lies beyond our atmosphere this is surely it. The only problem I have now is finding shelf space for it!
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning visuals 1 Dec 2006
Format:Hardcover
I have more "coffee table" books on Astronomy than I do surface area on my coffee tables. This book makes it so I could get rid of all the rest as it is not only more complete but more beautiful than the rest combined.

There are some errors in it that make absolutely no sense why they were made (spelling and the Venusian orbit issue listed above). However... the science is solid and more importantly for a book like this, the images are unmatched in print.

Just like any book of this type, fingerprints on the pages are inevitable and annoying against a black background, but I wouldn't trade for white backgrounds because these images need the black to really show their visual range.

The information is also very current. Pluto is not considered a planet, the idea of neutrinos contributing to Dark Matter, and a host of other relatively recent developments are included. The progression is also very clean and straight forward starting at earth and progressing out to the large scale of the universe, which is something most of these books don't spend enough time on despite it being one of the most fascinating developments in cosmology recently.

If you want to learn the science, this isn't quite the book you're looking for. It's awkward to hold for long reading sessions due to the size, and not exceptionally in depth. However, the images can't be beat (not until Hubble's replacement goes live in a few years) and the science is comprehensive enough to let you know what you are looking at.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Book 8 Jan 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Yes, it has it's inaccuracies and typos, but this is an absolutely stunning book. It's meant to be a book to enable us to sit back and amire the fraction of the Universe we know in all it's glory.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly oustanding 14 Oct 2010
By Frank D
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This spectacular book comes within an ace of being a truly superb volume.

It falls short of the mark with some mildly moronic page designs where pictures are separated from their captions quite unnecessarily and impractically, especially when given the adequacy of the space available. That text boxes are plonked over critical image segemeents (when they are not floating disconnected on others) suggests strongly that the book was designed by people with little feel for the subject.

Although not a professional astronomer, author Giles Sparrow's overall grasp of a extensive subject is quite commendable. However, the book is marred in places where his lack of expertise does shines through with instances of indifferent text and a failure to deliver clinching insights - something that could easily have been rectified with more proficient and knowledgeable editors.

Similarly, in addition to errors already mention in other reviews, some of the 'facts' vary uncomfortably, as with the distance of Betelgeuse stated as 427 light years distant on one page and 440ly on another. Andromeda is worryingly described in one single caption as being 200 000 light years in diameter and 250 000 light years across just a mere 6 lines later. Its stellar population as stated at 400 billion stars is way short of the accepted value of 1 trillion stars..... and so on.

Generally, the choice of pictures is superb, but one may quibble that better Lunar and Mars photos are available from the same sources, and that too much space was devoted to nebula purely on the basis of prettiness.

But the real excellence of this book lies in the technical brilliance of the printing and image transfer. It is formidably superb. (The Chinese printers are advised to have their name printed in future editions.)

In terms of sheer volume, ink on page and stunning images, Cosmos is unbeatable, especially at this Amazon price.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!
I bought this as a gift for my other half who has a keen interest in all things space, with a particular love of the imagary. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Rachel
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
Excellent book for anyone interested in astrology! Photography amazing def one for the coffee table bound to generate conversation and wonder in galaxy's, stars, black holes, and... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mrs Valerie Knight
4.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, but misprints
I agree with the other reviewers that the pictures in this book are breathtaking. The sheer size of the volume has its good points and bad. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Henry Purcell's No.1 Fan
5.0 out of 5 stars Space: The Final Frontier
I bought this amazing book very recently while out and about on my local High Street. It was the very dictionary definition of an 'impulse buy', especially as I'd only popped out... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Hermes Love
5.0 out of 5 stars HUGE and Significant.
Sumptuous book ( of massive proportions) Giles sparrow 's text and the magnificent selection of the pictures is really stupendous.. Read more
Published 16 months ago by PeterN
4.0 out of 5 stars nice read
this book is fab it has everything you need to know about the cosmos its a very large book so would need to read it on your lap or a table.
Published 16 months ago by mike m
5.0 out of 5 stars Just...wow.
I had no idea how large this book was when I ordered it. It's ENORMOUS. Looking inside it's an absolute feast of big high resolution colourful photographs from Earth based... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing value
What an amazingly well published book: sleek, glossy black pages; beautiful, full-colour photographs; enough information to inform without become endless text and essays! Read more
Published on 7 May 2012 by Dpops
5.0 out of 5 stars Big is Beautiful
This book needs to be reviewed in the context of being a visual journey through the universe with a bit of information added to help with the context. Read more
Published on 22 Dec 2011 by Philip Hadley
4.0 out of 5 stars Great but shame about the mistakes
A great book with loads of info and amazing pictures. Shame about the mistakes though, for instance on pg 58 the scale of the diagram on Jovian moons is all out and conflicts with... Read more
Published on 16 Oct 2010 by Steve 1234
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