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The Hundred Greatest Stars Hardcover – 19 Jun 2002

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Copernicus; 2002 edition (19 Jun. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0387954368
  • ISBN-13: 978-0387954363
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 21.1 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 996,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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From the reviews:

"Most people know about Sirius, Canopus and Antares, but not everyone will be familiar with EG 129, HZ 21 and Polaris Australis, the dim star close to the south pole of the sky. Enter The Hundred Greatest Stars by James Kaler...Following a very clear general introduction to stellar astronomy, Kaler embarks on an informative tour through his hundred favourite stars, each given a page of text with an appropriate illustration on the facing page...The really clever aspect of the book is that as well as describing the hundred stars, often bringing out aspects which are unfamiliar, Kaler succeeds in giving an excellent broad survey of recent developments in stellar astronomy. As is to be expected, the text is immensely authoritative...The illustrations are beautiful..."
-New Scientist

"...truly an outstanding book about the sheer beauty and diversity of the stars. It's a personal treasure to me and I'm sure you'll love it to."
-- Planetarian, March 2005

"In this book Kaler … selects 100 of his favorite stars to illustrate the amazing varieties … in which stars exist. … Truly each turn of a page offers a quick view, a fabulous color photograph or illustration … . each story is self-contained, the description of one star not dependent on another, allowing the reader to enjoy a page at random. … The Hundred Greatest Stars is truly an outstanding book about the sheer beauty and diversity of the stars." (Paul J. Krupinski, Planetarian, March, 2005)

"The life and times of stars can be written in the language of a myriad examples. In this book, the author has chosen 100, each of which reveals an intriguing property of stellar evolution or behaviour. … the well rounded narrative of each star is told with affection and enthusiasm. … One of three appendices provides the ability to find objects of a particular class easily, making this enjoyable book a good reference tool too. … The Hundred Greatest Stars is useful, readable and recommended." (Steve Ringwood, Astronomy Now, May, 2004)

"Accessibly written by James B. Kaler … The Hundred Greatest Stars is an incredible, informative, superbly illustrated, astronomical reference describing one hundred different stars ranging from Acrux to ZZ Ceti. Each individual star has a full color photograph and an accompanying page of scientific description with close attention to detail. The Hundred Greatest Stars is a strongly recommended, beautifully illustrated study for astronomy buffs." (Wisconsin Bookwatch, September, 2002)

"Top 10 Reasons to Like The Hundred Greatest Stars. … It starts with a fine synopsis of the properties of stars. … It’s a great introduction to stellar astronomy. … The appendixes are useful … . The text, aimed at a general audience, is well written and engaging. … The science is accurate and simply explained – one of the great strengths of this book. … The Hundred Greatest Stars will inspire some to pause and ‘star’-gaze for a while … ." (Paul Deans, Sky & Telescope, February, 2003)

"Although stars might seem like a strange sort of thing to appear in a ‘hundred greatest’ list, Kaler … writes with great enthusiasm about his favorites. … Kaler’s clear and simple explanations of distance, magnitude, color, and luminosity provide the background needed to understand each star’s entry. … The imaginative and varied images, many in color, include photographs, charts, graphs, and scientific research results that enhance the text and attractive layout. Recommended." (Choice, December, 2002)

"This stellar grandeur is perfectly captured in James Kaler’s lavishly illustrated and expertly written volume, The Hundred Greatest Stars. … Kaler’s deep love and enthusiasm for the stars shines through on every page. Even though the book is dedicated to the amateur astronomy community, it will surely appeal to anyone who has ever looked at the sky with a sense of curiosity and wonder." (Andrew S. Fazekas,, February, 2003)

"A lovely literary companion piece to backyard stargazing is ‘The Hundred Greatest Stars’ by James B. Kaler … . It’s an illustrated ‘greatest hits’ compendium of stars, and has been praised for its clear and eloquent writing on the likes of Alpha Centauri, Betelgeuse, The Black Widow (!) and our own beloved sun. Speaking as one for whom introductory physics was one continuous anxiety attack, I can attest to its readability. " (Mary Ann Gwinn,, August, 2002)

"Kaler … profiles an intriguing collection of some of his favorite stars … . Both beginning and practiced astronomers will find much to be admired, including an excellent introduction to stellar evolution; a wide variety of lush images … from the Anglo-Australian Observatory; and entries which deftly blend very technical (and current) data with descriptions that are not just accessible but also reflect a healthy amount of awe." (SciTech Book News, September, 2002)

"In this lavishly illustrated book, noted University of Illinois astronomer, author, and ASP Board member James B. Kaler expounds on his 100 favorite stars, from Acrux to ZZ Ceti. … The book captures the complexity and dynamism of stars, and it describes how they exemplify the extraordinary physical forces at work in the universe." (Mercury, September/October, 2002)

"For this book, Professor James B. Kaler selected 100 of the most interesting stars … . If you are interested in the wonderful array of stars to be found in our galaxy … then you will find this book absolutely fascinating. It is also beautifully illustrated with 100 colour images … . it is the wonderfully lucid Introduction that sets the scene for your journey through the cosmos. This is a book not to be missed!" (Gordon Nason, Astronomy & Space, July, 2003)

"James B. Kaler presents 100 remarkable and interesting stars, all put in reference to our Sun. … The text is very comprehensive and contains a wealth of interesting information. … A glossary of the most important scientific terms completes the book. The Hundred Greatest Stars is a nice read; it presents a wealth of interesting data that in this combination is otherwise hard to find." (Sterne und Weltraum, April, 2003)

"This is a beautiful little book about stars, replete with wonderful color photographs and concise language. Those just getting started won’t get lost, and those with a stronger background will find plenty to enjoy." (Library Journal, May, 2003)

"Kaler has used both the extreme and the apparently normal in selecting his 100 greatest stars, and much to the pleasure of this antipodean, there is no overwhelming northern hemisphere bias as is common in many astronomy publications. … What sets this book apart is that Kaler finds interest in … apparently normal naked-eye ‘creatures’ … . the book provides an excellent resource for those … having the joy of explaining why these pinpoints of light and fuzzy blobs are so fascinating!" (Roger Feasey, Auckland Astronomical Society Journal, May, 2003)

"This is a gem of a book with guts. It is the author’s celebration for the new millennium of 100 of his favourite stars. … This book is written in a breezy, friendly style that is compulsive reading but will also serve as a valuable reference. It is certainly an ‘A to Z’ of stars; Acrux to ZZ Ceti in fact. I thoroughly recommend it. I may never look at the night sky the same way again." (Bob Evans, Southern Stars, March, 2003)

"The idea behind this book … is an attractive one when written in Kaler’s style. A much-experienced astronomical writer, he has the facility of describing the more exotic of the objects in this volume in terms that many can understand. … a well-written and presented volume. This sort of writing got me into astronomy – it could well do the same for your favourite nephew or niece." (Robert Argyle, The Observatory, Vol. 123 (1173), 2003)

"This is a truly beautiful book, the vast knowledge and passion for the author’s subject transferring to the written page so well. … The text is accompanied by a photograph or illustration … and these illustrations certainly bring the subject to life, especially for younger readers. Experienced astronomers will find a wealth of technical information at their fingertips … but the opening ‘Introduction and Allegro’ provides the astronomical novice with a concise and complete background … . I really, enjoyed this book." (Philip Bridle, BBC Radio, June, 2003)

"James Kaler … is a well-known advocate for the stars. In The Hundred Greatest Stars he expresses his enthusiasm for them in everyday language … . So is this eclectic collection interesting to … the community of amateur astronomers? I believe that it is … . a much wider audience would learn a good deal … . I’m very pleased to have this book in my library as an excellent collection of useful facts about 101 very interesting stars." (David Malin, Physics World, Vol. 15 (10), 2002)

"Kaler embarks on an informative tour through his hundred favourite stars … . The really clever aspect of the book is that … Kaler succeeds in giving an excellent broad survey of recent developments in stellar astronomy. … the text is immensely authoritative … . so well written that it will appeal as much to the beginner as to the more serious student. All in all, this is one of the most interesting and enjoyable books I have read for a long time." (Patrick Moore, New Scientist, July, 2002)

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
Aside from the constellations of the Zodiac, one modern figure, Crux, the Southern Cross, is perhaps the most famed. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The books introduction is a short concise account of star birth, main sequence and the the senior events of a stars existence or life. These events and timescales do of coarse vary between every star as other factors are very much players in how these events are played out & the '100' highlights this variation on a grand scale. The short intro sets the scene adequately for a quick brush up if rusty on the subject, or if new it lays a very nice foundation that will surely season the curiosity enough to instantly dive into one of the more well-know stars.....go straight for it !

Thats the point of this book, you do not find yourself reading it from front to back like other books. It is more about setting out on a lovely walk and at first knowing your way by reading say about, our beloved Sun (that dwarf we think we are comfortable with ! ). From there why not that 'one' thats in the handle of the big dipper / plough ? Later the walk takes us to some very strange places, whilst revisits again and again by choice to the same pages are inevitable.

Each of the 101 stars has a dedicated double page. The right page has 2 columns of written information that takes no more than 4 or 5 minutes to read. The left page has the image/s and essential statistics along with unique characteristics for quick comparison and reference. The visual part varies from star to star and in rare cases includes the direct imaging of the stars surface. In the majority of cases very carefully chosen sources specific to the star are selected, many I admit to only seeing here. No doubt some would only grace the pages of archived journals away from most of us, which is a shame because the obscurity of the image with the description intrigues.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A great book - deserves to be better known. A good present for any astronomer as a coffee table book, or anywhere else you just want to dip into something for five minutes
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By Astroman on 10 Mar. 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A SUPERB guide to the stars,that is a worthy addition to my small but expanding library of astronomy books.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 15 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Informative, superbly illustrated, astronomical reference 9 Sept. 2002
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Accessibly written by James B. Kaler (Professor of Astronomy, University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign), The Hundred Greatest Stars is an incredible, informative, superbly illustrated, astronomical reference describing one hundred different stars ranging from Acrux to ZZ Ceti. Each individual star has a full color photograph and an accompanying page of scientific description with close attention to detail. The Hundred Greatest Stars is a strongly recommended, beautifully illustrated study for astronomy buffs.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
His Best Yet! 28 July 2003
By Frank A. Whorton - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was not a big fan of Kaler's until this book. I had read his "Extreme Stars" -- very difficult to follow with his writing style, but still a good book. I begged the library to order this one, which they did. Very impressive -- I was enthralled. He discusses each star with true passion and on a level the ordinary amateur astronomer can understand. If someone can get me excited looking at a boring 5th magnitude 51 Pegasii, then he's done a good job :) --- he has. Excellent illustrations to boot! Buy this book - you won't be disappointed.
Update: January 2004 - after 3 times checking it out from the library -- decided it was too good of a reference book to pass up and ordered from at discounted price! A true gem - I will observe outside, then use this to enrich my knowledge of some of the stars I've looked at afterwards. All the "biggies" are here - Arcturus, Sirius, Capella, Vega, Betelguese, and some other obscure ones -- but all so well chosen that it's hard to argue with his 100 picks! I wish he'd write another on his next top 100. I am also half through his "Little Book of Stars" and recommend that too! Will write a review on that when I am finished. Bottomline: Buy this book - you won't be disappointed if you are an astronomy buff.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Informative and colorful 12 July 2003
By Dennis Littrell - Published on
Format: Hardcover
No Katharine Hepburn or Al Pacino here. Instead we have Betelgeuse and Cygnus X-1, Deneb and MXB 1730-335 and 96 other illuminators of the night sky as selected by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Professor of Astronomy James B. Kaler. They are called "the greatest" mostly because they are significant in one way or another and partly because they are Kaler's favorites.
Of course included are Alpha Centauri, our closest interstellar neighbors, and Barnard's Star, the fastest moving star across our line of sight, and Polaris, the North Star, friend to navigators. The sun is included for comparison and reference.
Kaler begins the book with what he calls an "Introduction and Allegro" in which he explains what stars are and how they are classified and how they evolve. Then come mini essays on the each of the chosen stars, what's interesting and important about them, their history and vital statistics beginning with number zero, the sun. He identifies the "Residence" of each star according to astronomical constellation, alternative name, its class such as F2 giant (Beta Cassiopeiae), its visual magnitude, its distance from us, its absolute visual magnitude, and its "Significance" (e.g., ESO 439-26 is "The faintest known white dwarf.") Because of the range of different types of stars that Kaler has chosen (with wildly differing system configurations), double and triple stars, stars with known planets, pulsars, neutron stars, black holes, etc., reading through the various essays amounts to a modest astronomical education in itself.
There are color plates pertaining to each star, sometimes of the star and sometimes of the area of the sky in which the star can be found, and sometimes pertaining to something significant about the star such as a colorful drawing of the inflowing gas from the giant surrounding the black hole at Cygnus X-1.
There's a modest glossary and three appendices, one listing the stars by their various names for easy recognition, the second by their evolutionary status (Main Sequence stars, Neutron stars, etc.), and the third by position (by Declination and Right Association).
This works well as an introduction to stars and their nature and as a source of reference for the amateur star-gazer. It is an attractive book that would make a fine gift especially for a young person just becoming interested in astronomy. It is technical in spots, but overall it is readily accessible to the general reader.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
The Hundred Greatest Stars by Kaler 8 Nov. 2003
By Dr. Joseph S. Maresca - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book has spectacular views of major stars/ clusters.
The 3 brightest stars of the Southern Hemisphere are depicted.
These stars are Sirius, Canopus and Alpha Centauri.
Important scientific rule structures are explained. i.e.
The apparent magnitude of a star is a function of distance.
In addition, Absolute Magnitude and Color are proportional to
temperature. Important statistics are provided for stars: i.e.

Blue-White Stars have 32-50 illumination with Ionized Helium.
Infrared stars are 1000 degrees with prominent methane bands.
Stars with > 10 solar masses--are exploding stars

Ag Dra has powerful eruptions. Celestial Harp is approximately
880 Light Years with a 2600 times the sun luminosity.
This work is a virtual treasure-chest of scientific facts and
data about stars. It is perfect for a school science project.
The book is written for a large constituency of readers. i.e.
Astronomers, scientists, general audiences, teachers,
museum administrators and many others.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Little Gem 21 Oct. 2005
By Terry Teays - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jim Kaler has written a real little gem in this book. It selects 100 of the most interesting stars and gives a "biography" of each. His style is engaging and readable. The author seems to have intended the audience to be amateur astronomers, but I have found it quite useful for students in both secondary school and the university. I have always told my students that "stars are like people, if you examine them closely, all of them are strange in some way", and this book highlights some of the more interesting ones. Along the way, a fair bit of astronomical information is also imparted, but in a way that flows naturally with the stories. The book has good production quality. This is a fairly short book, very approachable for students who might be science shy. I think this is the best one that Jim has done so far. My only quibble is that he left out RU Cam, which should have been given a place in this collection.
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