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Galileo and 400 Years of Telescopic Astronomy (Astronomers' Universe)

Galileo and 400 Years of Telescopic Astronomy (Astronomers' Universe) [Kindle Edition]

Peter Grego , David Mannion
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Description


From the reviews:

“The organization is clear and easy to follow with excellent illustrations. In addition to providing history lessons and details of discoveries throughout the ages … include several easy-to-do exercises such as assembling and using a cross-staff or making a telescope from common optics (e.g., discarded binocular parts). Several tables of interesting events including close conjunctions or brighter Messier objects offer an incentive for the reader to become an observer. … Summing Up: Recommended. General audiences.” (M. K. Hemenway, Choice, Vol. 48 (7), March, 2011)

“This is an extraordinary book … . It’s really three books rolled into one; a sound historical overview, a practical explanation of the historical observations, and a useful reference … .  skillfully combines aspects of telescopic astronomy in a way that is both very readable and stimulating. … refreshingly new way to present observational astronomy in its historical context and would be a great introduction to anyone starting out in practical amateur astronomy. It is definitely a must have for school libraries and astronomical societies.” (Kevin Kilburn, Popular Astronomy, March-April, 2011)

“This charming book is an easily accessible romp through the history of astronomy, concentrating on what is observable. … Galileo Galilei is clearly the book’s hero. His technical ability to make and improve his own instruments is much admired. … Grego and Mannion are clearly great fans of the Italian ‘father of modern science’. Their delightful book strongly encourages us all to try and follow in his footsteps.” (Carole Stott, The Observatory, Vol. 131 (1222), June, 2011)

“Galileo and 400 Years of Telescopic Astronomy is the story of science and civilisation, retold for a twenty-first century audience. … What makes this book unique is its accessibility. … the authors warmly encourage you to perform your own experiments. … Grego and Mannion paint an insightful picture that … wholeheartedly deserves a read. This is a great book and well worth the modest price tag!” (Neil English, Astronomy Now, January, 2012)

Product Description

In 1609 Galileo first used his telescope to kick start the science of observational astronomy - an event that proved to be of enormous historic, scientific, and cultural importance. Galileo and 400 Years of Telescopic Astronomy will feature the life and achievements of Galileo, around which has pivoted the story of four centuries of telescopic astronomy. The book will detail how astronomy has progressed through four centuries and contain glimpses of future space research and astronomy goals. Uniquely, interwoven with the text will be a range of practical projects for backyard astronomers in which to participate, projects that serve to illustrate many of Galileo's scientific discoveries.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 5900 KB
  • Print Length: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Springer New York; 1 edition (9 Sep 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008BAP7PO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,140,156 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary astronomical history book 30 Dec 2010
`This is an extraordinary book', was my impression as I reached the end of chapter two. Far from being a dry history of the past four centuries of telescopic astronomy, I found a novel mixture of sound historical fact admixed with practical lessons in how to build astronomical equipment of the period, and much, much more.

It's really three books rolled into one; a sound historical overview, a practical explanation of the historical observations, and a useful reference with lists of deep sky objects, future planetary phenomena, conjunctions, transits and the like. The familiar historical outline of astronomy with all the usual characters is well told. The arrangement of the chapters follows a logical historical timeline, the main part being the early telescopic observations made by Galileo followed by Newton's development of physics, the observation and development of visual planetary astronomy and then that of extra-solar system observations. But throughout the book, and this is what I particularly liked, there was a lot of unfamiliar information and detail that brings this book bang up to date. For instance the Antikythera mechanism is rarely mentioned in other discussions of classical astronomy, Galileo's unintentional observation of Neptune is strikingly illustrated in juxtaposition with the view given by modern planetarium software, and I had not heard of Hodierna's list of 40 nebulae published in 1654, a century before that of Charles Messier.

What didn't I like ?...well, not much. The blurb on the back cover seemed a little harsh on the Church, but no big deal. In the body of the text there were some interesting omissions, like no reference to Horrock's and Crabtree's first observation of the transit of Venus in 1639. It is mentioned, but they aren't.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A FASCINATING BOOK! 28 Nov 2010
Galileo and 400 Years of Telescopic Astronomy

Galileo and 400 Years of Telescopic Astronomy is an amazing insightful discourse in how Astronomy - the oldest science - has expanded the mind of the human race from a small cosmos centred on the Earth to the present day view of unimaginable size and age. All this is done in just 300 pages covering the last 400 years. It celebrates the milestones of success and contains an enormous wealth of information from the Greeks trying to measure the size of the Earth to present day going back to less than a trillionth, trillionth, trillionth of a second after the Big Bang!

Did you know that the earliest astronomical records go back to 30 000 BCE and that the phases of the Moon were recorded as early as 15 000 BCE (Lascaux Caves, France)?

What is the escape velocity from a small asteroid? What is the probability of discovering extraterrestrials in our Galaxy. All these ideas are in this amazing book.

A major theme throughout the book are 14 projects one can do emulating the work of Galileo from recording the height of lunar mountains, transits of the inner planets and sunspots or constructing a simple pinhole camera.

But what of the future? This is the only book I have read which has covered in depth what the enormous plans are for telescopes covering the whole range of the electromagnetic spectrum: The SKA square kilometer array to HESS for ultra high energy gamma rays. It includes observations of neutrinos, cosmic rays and gravitational waves. What an exciting book!
I recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a fascinating and absorbing book 31 Jan 2011
Mannion and Grego have penned an incisive, comprehensive account of the birth of astronomy in ancient times, through to the latest developments of the present and planned scientific endeavours in the future.

Chronologically written, this is a very interesting and well researched book, with a solid scientific background, charting the earliest observations of the night sky, from ancient cultures onwards, and describes the Erasthomeus measurements, the use of astrolabes, the heliocentric theory and the work, theories and discoveries of Tycho, Aristotle, Ptolemaeus, Hipparchus through to the greats - Copernicus, Galileo and Newton.

With the discovery of the telescope came a great slew of astronomical advances as more of the Universe was discovered, the heliocentric theory overturned, and the visible lunar surface mapped. The planets and their moons could be seen, new planets discovered, and the sheer magnitude of the Universe revealed.

Later as science progressed came the birth of astrophotgraphy, mapping of the infra-red spectrum, radio astronomy and ultra-violet and spectral analysis of starlight, enabling scientists to further understand the ever expanding cosmos and the material nature of it.

Also in the book are projects for the amateur astronomer to undertake, which is a great addition, and also useful reference charts, diagrams and many pictures to compliment the text.

I would very much recommend this book as I think it would appeal to the layman, student, amateur and serious astronomer alike - it is not a dense or dull academic tome, rather a concise and fascinating history of telescopic astronomy and its origins, written with a clear passion for the subject matter. Furthermore, there are useful appendixes at the back with web links to astronomical societies and research websites with which to continue pursuing your interest in astronomy.
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