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The Story of Astronomy: How the universe revealed its secrets Paperback – 5 Dec 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Cassell (5 Dec 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844037118
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844037117
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.9 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 378,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

Book Description

A fascinating and highly informative narrative into the history and science of our Universe. Features extraordinary true stories about the history of astronomy told through expert, up-to-date and informative text. The award-winning authors are the UK's leading experts on space exploration and are well-known for their extensive television and radio specials. Astronomy has become enormously popular with Brian Cox's Wonders series on the BBC. OPG's Philip's Planisphere has sold nearly 30,000 copies in the past 5 months, a testament to astronomy's vast appeal.

About the Author

After studying Astrophysics at Oxford University, Heather Couper ran the Greenwich Planetarium, and later became President of the British Astronomical Association and Gresham Professor of Astronomy. She wrote and presented BBC Radio 4's epic 30-part series Cosmic Quest, a groundbreaking overview of the history of astronomy. Nigel Henbest researched radio astronomy at Cambridge, where he studied supernovae, radio galaxies and quasars. Together, Heather and Nigel set up Pioneer Productions, now one of the leading factual TV companies in the UK. Arthur C. Clarke was one of the world's most famous and prolific science fiction writers. also renowned worldwide for more than 70 other works, and the CBS coverage of Apollo 12 and 15, as well as Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sagan on 4 April 2012
Format: Paperback
With the popularity of amateur astronomy I am quite surised to be the first reviewer of this book. It is the book I have been looking for for years .The authors recount tales of astronomy from the ancients to modern day . It is well written and has a part travelogue feel to it . The scene moves from the Australian bush to Florence,Prague etc . I have always been a fan of Heather Cooper and enjoy Nigel Henbest too. Heather is in the Carl Sagan mould in my opinion and she seems to have been replaced on TV by the newer dramatic , sweeping camera astronomy shows .This is a shame ( does Sky at Night beckon in the future ?? I would hope so) . I would recommend this book as it is an informative and easy read .
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sherlock on 14 May 2012
Format: Paperback
The Story of Astronomy takes us on a journey of Man's understanding, from the early days, of marking the Sun's position as a calendar and using the night sky as a navigation tool, to present day theories of Black Holes and SETI.
I found the chapters concerning how the thinkers of the times interpreted the motions of the Sun and planets, and formulated various theories to describe how the Universe works, particularly interesting.
I would have liked to have seen more illustrations placed within the text, to make the book flow a little easier, rather than in the two groups of plates which have to be flipped back/forward to.
Overall, a well-written book, comprehensive, and comes recommended.
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By alecn on 21 Nov 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
a well presented and easy to understand history of astronomy.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By KH on 19 April 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Excellent book. Good price and in very good condition. Very good delivery and the packing kept the item in good condition.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A great read ! 22 Feb 2013
By Geoff Cowan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
When I was a wee lad, back in the 1970’s, my love of all things science was inspired by the links of Carl Sagan, Harry Messell and the Julius Summer-Millers of this world. Together with the Curiosity Show, these scientists were more that just scientists, they were educators and communicators of science. They showed that science can answer all our questions, or help us seek the answers not yet attained. On the back of the Apollo program, Star Trek and the Thunderbirds, a generation of Australian school children learnt about the astronomy and the wonders of the this great universe. I saw the first landing of the Space Shuttle and watched Apollo 11 moonwalks and take off before I went to school. This is unfortunately lacking today, especially when you see commercials for “The Shire”, “Jersey Shore” and “Swamp People”, as a result I feel for the next generation that they will not appreciate astronomy as we did.

My personal reflection helps to develop the context of this review of this book. The story of astronomy is a reflection of the times that discoveries are made in. But the story of astronomy, many details are lost. This book fills many of gaps in the story of astronomy that is not found in the textbooks of science. It places a “face” to the discoveries and a “touch” to the people. Heather Couper and Nigel Henbest have written a book that is a story of astronomy as opposed to the normal books of astronomy. Their book demonstrates that the many of the greatest figures in science were not only insightful in the way they looked at the issues of the science, but they were very much flawed in their personal lives. Newton, the man that gave us the Laws of Motion, played with dolls as a child, was socially isolated, yet had time for a man lover. Hershel, discoverer of Uranus, was a music teacher by trade. The book shows that most of the major discoveries made by astronomers in the early years were done by amateurs that were bankers, teachers and lawyers by trade.

Other little interesting stories are that the first radio telescopes in Britain were made from “acquired” German radar sets after World War 2. Reber, again an amateur radio astronomer, set up the first radio telescope in his backyard. After his death, his ashes were scattered in 24 separate radio telescopes though out the world. These little insights into the people that made the major discoveries of science places the reader in a better position to understand the person, as opposed to the actual science. This is an excellent perspective for this book.

Heather Couper is a popular astronomer in Britain whose TV appearances in the 1980 – 1990’s made astronomy a hot subject in schools. A writer of five books in astronomy, Couper had produced some of the best documentaries on the history of astronomy ever seen on TV. Henbest, apart from his scientific communication consultancy, will soon be flying into space on the Virgin Spacecraft. Henbest himself has written 36 books and authored over 1000 papers and was the former editor of News Scientist magazine. Both these authors have their own production company [...] and address science education issues.

The book is on 12 chapters and addresses issues such as planets, gravity, readings the night sky and lastly, the science behind alien life. The chapters are written in an entertaining and educational manner, and as previously stated, fills in many of the gaps that standard science books leave out.

The one thing that I like about this book is that it demonstrates the desire by scientists to work through all the issues, whether they are religion, technology or dogma, to find the truth via observation and research. It discusses Hoyle’s atheist thinking and how his atheism leads to his understanding on the creation of the universe. The authors build on one scientist to another to demonstrate that discoveries in science are not done from one event, but many events over time. How we went from observational astronomy, to the use of the telescope, then radio astronomy and eventually discussing our existence. The final chapter on alien’s life looks at the germs that were located on a camera of a spacecraft sent to the Moon in 1967. In 1969, Pete Conrad, the third man to walk on the Moon, took the camera back and after two years in a vacuum at freezing temperatures, germs that were deposited on the camera by technician in 1966 were still alive. Hence the discussion on exobiology. Nothing is sacred in the book in that regard.

If you enjoy reading about the history of science and reading biographies of great scientists, this book will be nice filler between books. I highly recommend it to the sceptic and science reader.
Interesting Read 27 April 2014
By Shelley M. Abernathy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a retired physics teacher, I greatly enjoyed this book. It does a fine job of explaining several abstract concepts, such as why black holes are invisible. The evolution of humanity's knowledge of the universe was riveting as well as educational. Anyone who has an interest in astronomy will enjoy it.
Interesting read. 20 Mar 2014
By Robert E. Bain - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An interesting, accessible introduction to astronomy. Not just facts, but also some insight into the personalities that have shaped the science. The authors weave a good story and slip the facts in painlessly. If only textbooks were this interesting!
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