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Books About the Universe

Galaxies, Howard Shapley, Third Edition, Harvard 1972.  This edition of the book, first published in 1943, was revised by Paul W. Hodge in this latest edition.  This is a text about not only the Milky Way Galaxy, but about the nature of galaxies in general.  It is most interesting to read about galaxies in the words of one of the great astronomers of all time.

The Crab Nebula, Simon Mitton, Scribners 1978.  Here is a little book about one star.  Or, what was a star at one time.  This is a good book for those who want to really study the history of a star and its remains.  It is quite technical.  Never-the-less it is a worth while study for the amateur even if it is a bit advanced.  It demonstrates how much information can be gained from an event, even a thousand years after it occurred.

The Quest for SS433, David C. Clark, Viking 1985.  This book is subtitled, Discovery of the Astronomical Phenomenon of the Century.  Indeed it is.  The discovery and analysis of this event is in many ways like that of the Crab nebula.  It is a constant amazement that one event, a very special one at that, can yield so much information and change the view of stars formation and destruction.  An interesting book for those interested in super stars.

Galaxies and the Universe, David Eicher ed, Kalmbach 1992.  Subtitled, An Observing Guide from Deep Sky Magazine.  What can I say but this is a really nice collection of articles from Deep Sky.  Nice images, nice discussion and just a nice book.

Through the Eyes of Hubble - The Birth, Life and Violent Death of Stars, Robert Naeye, Kalmbach 1998.  This is a wonderful book.  The images are the very latest from Hubble and concentrate on the supernova.  It is a large format book, not very thick,  full of the most startling and magnificent of the Hubble images.  There is an excellent text to go with the images.  I recommend this book highly even to those who already have several books of Hubble images.

A Photographic Tour of the Universe, Gabriele Vanin, Firefly Books 1996.  Now this is a major book of images from the solar system to deep space.  This is a collection of images to thrill anyone interested in astronomy.  One of the best. This marvelous collection of images is accompanied by a modest but quite informative text.

The Astronomical Companion,  Guy Ottewell, 1979-1993.  This is an interesting booklet.  It is large format bu thin and in paper.  It take on a unique way to look at the universe.  It is highly oriented toward viewing the universe in spatial dimensions.  Large maps of the solar system, galaxy, clusters of galaxies and stars, going out to the edge of the known universe are presented in a spatial perspective. One of the most different and interesting booklets I have ever found. It is a must for those who like to take an overview of the big plan of the universe.

Hubble Vision, Astronomy with the Hubble Space Telescope, Carolyn Collins Peterson and John C. Brandt,  Cambridge 1995.
There have been many Hubble images and compilations.  None has been as good as this one.  The book has a story of the design and development of Hubble as well as a collection of images that is simply great.  The book concentrates on the images of great importance in advancing our understanding the the universe.  This is a must have book.

Hubble Vision, Further Adventures With the Hubble Space Telescope, Carolyn Collins and John C, Brandt, Cambridge (second edition) 1998
Sort of a second edition but also a complete rewrite of the first edition reviewed just above.  The book has been totally revised to include the latest images and latest astronomical discoveries from Hubble observations.  Still full of the most beautiful and amazing images, it has much more text and theory about recent discoveries and theories.  Again, a must have book.

Hubble's Universe, A Portrait of Our Cosmos, Simon Goodwin, Penguin Studio 1997.  A smaller book that the above and a bit less ambitious.  It must be considered a complement to the bigger Hubble Vision book.  It is a nice book but pales compared to the bigger work.  I would consider it in addition to but not a substitute for the above.

Stars and Galaxies, Astronomy's Guide to Exploring and Cosmos, David Eicher ed, Astronomy 1992.  Another of Eicher's efforts proves a winner.  This is really the book for persons who want to view the Cosmos as the title suggests.  Excellent pictures and maps of the major objects in the sky.  I recommend it highly.  Anyone can learn a lot from this marvelous presentation.

The Guide to the Galaxy, Nigel Henbest and Heather Couper, Cambridge 1994.  This book means by Galaxy, THE Galaxy.  That is the Milky Way Galaxy.  It is the best I have seen in terms of both text and images of our galaxy.  The presentation is clear, the science correct and up to date and the images quite inspiring.

Hubble - A New Window to the Universe, Daniel Fischer and Hilmar Duerbeck, Springer 1996.  Of the many books about the Hubble Space Telescope, this one is definitely in the running as one of the best.  It has good textual material and the same collection of the best of the Hubble images.  There is a well organized discussion of the design and building of Hubble as well as a vast collection of great images.  The text is intelligent and informative.  One of the best of the Hubble based books.

Splendors of the Universe, A Practical Guide to Photographing the Night Sky, Terence Dickinson and Jack Newton,  Firefly 1997.
A good, even wonderful, book about photographing the night sky.  Images from the near to far objects are included with practical advice about how to photography them.  This book is not just a picture book but a fine how to do it book.  I recommend this one highly for anyone who wants to try this most difficult type of photography.  The book will be helpful.

The Hubble Atlas of the Galaxies, Allan Sandage, The Steinhour Press 1961-1984.  This is the famous Hubble galaxy book completed by his student and colleague Allan Sandage.  An outstanding collection of images of galaxies and the systematic classification of them using the Hubble methodology.  A book of great historical interest as well as a text for learning about galaxies.  This is a big, big book which is a joy to the eyes and mind.

The Universe and Beyond, 1992 revision, Terence Dickinson,  Camden House 1995
This book is to a strange collection of fine images and rather simplistic text.  It is a clear popularization of complex ideas and concepts.  It is ok but has never thrilled me.

The third edition of this book (1999) is an improvement over the 1992 edition.   It is modern in that it includes significant Hubble images. Some of the text and general structure have been revised.  The author has a fine technique for describing complex astronomical concepts in understandable terms.  While the book is still for the beginner, it is a good introduction to astronomy of the solar system and deepest space.  This is a welcome and very nice revision. In the new edition, the publisher, Firefly Books of Canada, has done an excellent job of
producing a good looking book.

The Supernova Story, Laurence A. Marschall, Plenum Press 1988.  This is a wonderful book about Supernova 1987A and also about superstars in general.  This is a moving, interesting discussion about the useful information that these uncommon superstars can provide.  It is thoroughly authoritative.  A find book.

Supernova-The Violent Death of a Star, Donald Goldsmith, Oxford 1990.  Paperback. Devoid of charts and images though with a fair text.  This book can be well overlooked.

The Big Bang Never Happened, Eric J. Lerner, Vintage 1992.  Says Who!  A paperback which expounds some unusual theories of the universe.  If he is right he will be the only one.  An amusing little book to read.

Pathways to the Universe, Francis Graham-Smith and Bernard Lovell, Cambridge 1988.  This is a book about everything.  It has a different viewpoint from most books on everything about the universe that is quite charming.  The discussion is about divers thing from radio astronomy and the moon to deep space objects and what they tell us about the design of the universe.  The illustrations are excellent and the text very readable.  This is a fine book for someone interested in an overview of astronomy.  This overview is especially interesting and written with a tone of contagious enthusiasm.

Stars, Nebula and the Interstellar Medium, C. R. Kitchin, Adam Hilger 1987.  This is a text like book.  It is heavy duty, full of equations, graphs and complex discussions.  It does tie together the results of observational astronomy with astrophysical theory.  Not for the novice.

Planetary Nebula, Steven J. Hynes, William-Bell 1991.  This book is subtitled, A Practical Guide and Handbook for Amateur Astronomers.  Well it may be for amateurs, but only those with a deep, deep interest in planetaries.  It is practical, it has extensive tables, extensive drawings and a few so, so photographs.  About half the book is devoted to tables and locator charts .  Essential to those pursuing planetaries.

The Messier Album, Mallas and Kreimer, Sky Publications 1978.  A nice, brief description of Messier and his work in compiling his list of objects.  At the same time a great collection of good, but not spectacular, images of all of the Messier objects with a short description of each.  Nice set of locator charts with a realistic assessment of imaging the objects.  Most of the images are made with a 12 1/2" reflector, well within reach of the serious amateur.  A nice book for those interested in the fail fuzzies out there.

Messier's Nebula and Star Clusters, Kenneth Glyn Jones, Cambridge 1991.  This is a big book which is sort of like a grown up version of the "The Messier Album."  It has essentially all of the things you might want to know about the astronomer, Messier, and his friends.  There is a really fine set of charts for locating the object and an authoritative discussion of them with good references.  The objects are ordered, classified, cataloged and described in relation to each other.  There is also a set on nice photographs of them.  Of special value is a paragraph on each describing how to observe them.

Modern Cosmology and the Dark Matter Problem, D. W. Sciama, Cambridge 1993.  As a lecture in physics and on a new and complex theory in cosmology, this is not an easy book.  In fact it is a tough treatment of the observations that have forced cosmologists to recognize the existence of dark matter.  It is a high level, difficult book.

A Short History of the Universe, Joseph Silk, Scientific American Library, 1994.  This book is part of a large series of books on scientific subjects from the Scientific American Library.  It is a fine, authoritative and beautifully produced book.  It is a modern overview of the evolution of the universe that anyone can read with ease.

Stars, James B. Kaler, Scientific American Library 1992.  This book is beautifully produced, as are all the books in this series. It discusses the role stars play in the evolution of the universe, the creation of elements and the structure of the universe.  A nice, not too difficult book which I found enjoyable.

Cosmic Clouds-  Birth, Death and Recycling in the Galaxy, James B. Kaler, Scientific American Library 1997.  This book goes into some depth on the topic of the material development of the galaxy.  The physics and chemistry of star formation and the cycling of material in the galaxy are covered with authority.  The book is beautifully produced.

Gravity's Fatal Attraction, Mitchell Begelman and Martin Rees. Scientific American Library 1997.  This book gives a rather detailed but understandable discussion of the effect that gravity has on the formation of stars and other objects in the universe.  It is a nice book, beautifully produced, which rounds out the series on astronomy within the Scientific American Library series.

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