This review is from: Galileo and 400 Years of Telescopic Astronomy (Astronomers' Universe) (Paperback)
The story of astronomy for the past four centuries has been the story of the telescope. Almost every discovery, until the era of spaceprobes, has come from astronomers using ever more powerful 'scopes to probe the heavens, from Galileo's primitive "optick tube" to the Hubble Space Telescope, giant radio dishes and orbiting X-ray satellites.
To cover this entire field needs a brave spirit, and Peter Grego and David Mannion don't shy away from the task!
Their scene-setting chapters are replete with a cast of colourful characters, including Tycho Brahe with his copper nose and smallpox-crippled Kepler. And, as the title promises, the authors paint a very 3D portrait of the fiery redhead Galileo Galilei, including a fascinating account of his scientific achievements outside astronomy.
The later chapters take us through the Solar System and out into the wider Universe, through the eye of the telescope. If the authors had had more space, maybe they would have been able to be more discursive on later developments in non-optical astronomy; none the less, they provide a useful summary for interested student.
The practical projects are framed with a fun and modern slant. To repeat Eratosthenes experiment in measuring the size of the Earth by measuring the Sun's altitude at two different locations, it would help "if you have a far-off friend on the Internet". And they suggest you can improve on Galileo's method of measuring the acceleration of gravity from rolling balls, by videoing the experiment on your mobile phone!
Heather Couper and Nigel Henbest