Revised Photogr.




 A photographic tour of the universe

Willowdale, Ontario, Canada e Buffalo, New York, USA, Firefly, 1998

Revised edition, Format 25 x 29, 146 pages, 320 ill. in colour, 5 tables


Astronomy may well be the oldest science, but it is also a very modern one. Many centuries have passed since humankind first began to study the heavens, and it has taken a long time to reach the highly advanced stage of contemporary astronomy and astrophysics. All of this has been driven by our primeval quest to understand better the mysterious space that surrounds us, to learn more about our distant origins and to comprehend more clearly the limitations of our small niche in time and space. Guided by our natural curiosity, combined with our ability to construct better and better instruments, we have progressively penetrated deeper and deeper into the universe and its many riddles.
Astronomy is an exploratory science through which we all may undertake incredible voyages into the unknown. It also has the particular advantage of producing spectacular, colorful images. Although we may not yet fully understand the physical realities behind the celestial objects they depict, we may certainly admire their beauty and marvel at their complex and intricate structures. And we enjoy them best of all when the stories behind these images are told, when they are explained to us in an authoritative and interesting manner.
This is the principal achievement of the present book. It presents a marvelous collection of the latest, most significant astronomical images, obtained with the largest, most powerful telescopes now in existence. Extensive captions point out the details of each picture, how it was made and its astronomical significance.
The images are complemented by a comprehensive text that begins with the basics of astronomy, describing the various instruments with which astronomical observations are made. Next, we are taken on an exploration of the solar system, then outward to the stars and nebulas and, finally, to distant galaxies and quasars located in remote regions of the immense universe. Along the way, we learn about important historical developments and the latest discoveries, from the newly found transneptunian objects to the fantastic images of newborn stars and multi-billion-year-old galaxies recently obtained with the refurbished Hubble Space Telescope.
The author—a central and respected figure in Italian amateur astronomy—and the publishers are to be congratulated on this excellent book. It has surely not been a simple task to collect all of these images from so many different sources, but the result is outstanding. While offering valuable information to the initiated, this volume also has a great potential to attract many newcomers to this wonderful science. I am sure its readers will spend many pleasant and instructive hours in its company!

(From the preface of Richard M. West, ESO)


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