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Cosmos: A Journey to the Beginning of Time and Space Hardcover – 20 Sep 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 20 Sep 2007
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus; 2Rev Ed edition (20 Sept. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847241255
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847241252
  • Product Dimensions: 35.6 x 2.5 x 43.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 286,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


images of staggering beauty with jaw dropping photographs - Sunday Express (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 alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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 segments (when they are not floating disconnected on others) suggests strongly that the book was designed by people with little feel for the subject.

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. The otherwise excellent schematic of Jupiter's moons is blemished by distances which are out by a factor of ten, suggesting again editors unfamiliar with numbers. It sounds harsh, but the sheer lavishness of the book outshines these failings.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
I've seen many astronomy books that purport to illustrate our universe from the solar system outwards, and usually been disappointed. Too often they feature outdated pictures, or have poor reproduction.

To be honest, the blurb does this book a slight injustice. This isn't a field guide (although it is comprehensive in the subjects it covers) - if you didn't know what a globular cluster was before purchase, you probably won't afterwards either. Accompanying text is informative but fairly brief.

This is astronomy porn. This book reproduces, with superb detail and clarity, huge format (36 x 44cm) up-to-date images from Hubble and the latest crop of solar system probes, including Cassini and the Mars rovers. Even the microwave background image is from WMAP. All bases are covered, from the planetary satellites to 2MASS and the Hubble ultra deep field.

The cover price is actually UKP50, making this an absolute bargain. Many of the pictures are printed full-page, and I'm very tempted to buy a second copy to use as a bargain source of astronomy posters...
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