A photographic tour of the universe
Willowdale, Ontario, Canada e Buffalo, New York, USA, Firefly,
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
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
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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