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2.9 out of 5 stars
7
The Story of Astronomy
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on 1 February 2013
Peter Aughtons' book 'the story of astronomy' is his 14th outing as an author. Most of his previous works include histories of cities in the west and northwest of England from where Aughton hails.
The Author then changes course to sail with the likes of Cook in his epic voyage and then his fatal voyage, prior to changing tack once more into the field of astronomic history, one that includes Newtons apple.
The book cover is a composite image taken from various astronomical archives and has an immediate impact that suggests that the contents may be of interest.

Although the book is easy to read it tends to wander from the theme and occasionally in its content.

The material contain within the book is sufficiently good enough for the uninitiated reader, anyone who reads a lot of books and has an interest in astronomy might find this too basic. It was noted that in the latter stages of the book that equations began to appear all of these are basic in their nature but may be off-putting to most readers.

The Story of Astronomy is subjective and the author tends to focus on breakthrough events, turning points that shaped the future and provides a little background as to the origins of the information that led up to such events. It is written in a clear style and makes for easy reading.

It does however contain errors and other faults that set this book aside from others with similar content, these range from errors not picked up in proofreading to those that are misleading and are more probably items passed down from in previous writings and not properly vetted by the author.

A classic error is on p135 where Gravity is described as" the force that draws everything to the ground" whereas it may be more properly described as "physical bodies that mutually attract each other with forces proportional to their masses."

The nose of Tycho Brahe on p82 was made from Gold,Silver and Wax, whereas it was in fact Brass!

The levels of detail in family connections are exacting but it must be remembered that the Babylonians recorded their findings in clay tablets, some of which still exist today, whereas the Greek history was written on parchment which has all since been lost, so how true some of these stories are no one will probably ever know.

It is in conclusion with no doubt that this book is aimed at those who have an interest either in History or Astronomy but may not be acquainted in either field. The book is easy to read, small by comparison with most books and contains only a few basic technical details to enhance the content.
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on 12 June 2010
The book details astromonical discoveries from its roots during the earliest civilisations right through to its latest developments in the 21st century. It is excellently and richly illustrated, with many informative historical pictures, timelines, diagrams, computer representations, tables and, of course, photographs, including those of distinguished scientists, their discoveries and various astronomical features.

The text is informative, easily understandable and never dull. The story itself is compelling. There are many entertaining details concerning, for example, how the calendar was fine-tuned, how Bruno was burned by the Church for his supposedly heretical ideas (that the earth revolved around the sun, for one), the "problems" of Einstein's e=mc², and more.

A well researched and highly readable account.
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on 14 January 2018
Bought for a friend who is just getting into astronomy, Very enjoyable read
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on 14 October 2014
A reasonable, easy read, introduction to astronomy.
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on 9 February 2016
I dont want to be too harsh here on the author, Peter Aughton. I like the title of one of the other reviews 'A good try' and that is exactly what it is in trying to deal with what is literally an awesome subject. The author is very good on the early history of star gazing, from Babylon through to Omar Khayyam, Ptolemy, Copernicus and Galileo. The measurement of the heavens, the development of the lens and the big telescopes.

But it was when we get to Einstein and the chapter entitled 'Understanding the Forces of Nature' that, despite the author's very best efforts, I lost my way. The work of Fred Hoyle up to Steven Hawking is so intensely complex that it is very difficult to convey to the layman without recourse to algebra and phrases like 'a barred spiral galaxy is a spiral galaxy but with the spiral arms attached to a bar running through the nuclear bulge’. The chapters dealing with the creation of the universe, Black Holes, the Big Bang and Dark Matter (undetected missing matter from the universe with as yet unknown properties!) were very difficult. There may be something in one of the comments that Bill Bryson does this sort of thing much better.

But as I say a good try, a worthy effort and very good on the straight history of astronomy.
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on 25 January 2018
A brilliant attempt by someone to try and take you through history of astronomy. But it seems like a immature attempt by gathering knowledge from different sources and combining it together not verifying. Being a Indian I was more annoyed and upset that there is no mention of the ancient Indians who gave the world zero, calculated pi, calculate don't distance from earth to sun and earth to moon.😡😡😡😡
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on 15 January 2012
After having read Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything" I was truly inspired to learn more about the marvel that is our universe. This book seemed appealing and basic enough seeing as how I am a beginner in astronomy.

However, this book completely lacks enthralling descriptions or that 'wow'-feeling that science books actually can give you. Instead, this book is a short summary of the biggest discoveries in astronomy the last 10.000 years. I do not feel that it is always pedagogical as its explanations are not very descriptive. however, it should be added that this book is not intended to give detailed explanations from matters such as dark matter or the theory of relativity.

The book gives a very shallow look on astronomy and just googling the topics of the chapters in the book will give you just as much as reading it. Furthermore, it is a very short book (its 300+ pages are quite small and big letters) and a fast read. Despite of this, many filler quotes have been added to add maybe twenty pages to a short book. The one quote whose place in the book I find inexplicable is where the author devotes an entire page to an insert of a diarist from the 17th century describing the cold winter in London with absolutely no relevance to the topics discussed(!).

The lives of the astronomers are described very briefly and quite uninterestingly. Galileo, Newton and Einstein were fascinating characters but focus on this book is almost exclusively what they have achieved in astronomical stduy.

In short, a very brief book on astronomy that almost managed to make me feel bored of the topic. Although informative, I would instead suggest the chapters on astronomy in Bryson's "Short History of Nearly Everything" where both the science and historical scientists of astronomy are fascinating.
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