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4.0 out of 5 stars good comprehensive book
I bought this book to give me a grounding in the subject in preparation for my UCAS application and it provides a brilliant detailed introduction (so not so short) in the subject and covering the evolution of our understanding of the solar system and the universe. In particular I found it interesting how much more work Kepler did towards this than the more famous...
Published 11 months ago by Daniel Brothers

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3.0 out of 5 stars A summary of Hoskin's other work
In this work, Hoskin focus largely on a sequence of individuals, mostly from the latter parts of the Middle Ages through the Renaissance and on into the Scientific Revolution. Before that, though, there is an obligatory look at the early history of astronomy, not least looking at the work of Aristotle and Ptolemy, though even this preceded by "astronomy in...
Published 2 months ago by S. Meadows


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3.0 out of 5 stars A summary of Hoskin's other work, 20 May 2014
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S. Meadows (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The History of Astronomy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
In this work, Hoskin focus largely on a sequence of individuals, mostly from the latter parts of the Middle Ages through the Renaissance and on into the Scientific Revolution. Before that, though, there is an obligatory look at the early history of astronomy, not least looking at the work of Aristotle and Ptolemy, though even this preceded by "astronomy in prehistory".

In telling the story of astronomy in antiquity, our focus is largely on the planets, having been considered as stars that behaved in a peculiar way (hence the term 'planet' - meaning, wanderer). The puzzle, as seen from a modern perspective, is that of why the planets which are further out from the sun than earth appear to have retrograde motion. The history that then follows is the history of the ideas put forward by means of explanation as well as a little history of the people behind their ideas. As might be expected, we come across figures such as Tycho Brahe, Nicolas Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler and Isaac Newton.

In telling this history, the book's strongest point is in showing the detail behind the basic outline that most science students know. Our modern model of planets in elliptical orbits around the sun did not come about by a sudden eureka moment, but by a series of gradual shifts in thought.

The book ends in the early 19th century. Hoskin considers that at this point astronomy ceased to become a subject in its own right and became subsumed within physics and chemistry. So readers hoping for a history that included modern astronomy may well be disappointed. If that is the case, then I recommend following up with Peter Coles' Cosmology VSI. For while it is interesting enough, there was nothing that grabbed me by the lapels to make me remember it.

In the other editions in the VSI series I've read, they have come with great lists of references and further reading. Here, though, we have little more than repeated references to Hoskin's own work, which rather gives the impression that, though he is a subject matter expert, he hasn't written this a standalone book, but rather that it is a concise summary of his earlier work.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 24 Aug 2013
This review is from: The History of Astronomy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
This is not an introduction to The History of Astronomy, but just snippets that show the author's bias. So Arabic astronomy is not mentioned, whereas pages are devoted to tombs in Portugal that point roughly eastwards - very odd! Some descriptions are poor or skipped altogether. Personally, I found it quite a frustrating book to read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars good comprehensive book, 21 Aug 2013
I bought this book to give me a grounding in the subject in preparation for my UCAS application and it provides a brilliant detailed introduction (so not so short) in the subject and covering the evolution of our understanding of the solar system and the universe. In particular I found it interesting how much more work Kepler did towards this than the more famous Galileo. It's only shortcoming for me is that it stops when astrophysics emerges in the 19 century (I believe) and I would have like to have seen it go up to the present day.
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