Recommendations Requested for Astronomy...


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Recommendations Requested for Astronomy...

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Jan 29, 2008, 11:44am


I would like to read a book that describes all the latest discoveries out in the universe - the structure of the universe, interesting new astronomical bodies, planets, etc.

I am a Biochemist, but read extensively in Science, so an intermediate level of difficulty would be appropriate.

Would anyone have a recommendation for me?

Thanks very much,


Jan 30, 2008, 10:26am

I don't think such a book exists ... there aren't even any really good "intro"-level astronomy textbooks.

Fév 13, 2008, 3:33am

Sounds like you might want to go for a periodical instead of a book, like Sky & Telescope or Astronomy Magazine.

Modifié : Fév 13, 2008, 11:45am

It sounds like you are looking for both cosmo;ogy books as well as astronomy books. Here are a few of my own from both categories:

New Theories of Everything by John D. Barrow, ISBN 0192807218 / 9780192807212

The Stars of Heaven by Clifford Pickover

Universe by Robert Dinwiddie -- a**beautiful, lavish coffe-table sized book that has EVERYTHING!! This is a book like the National Geo books, the ultimate first class reference on everything starting from Earth itself and going out to the ends of the known universe. A huge treasure trove of astronomical info.

The View from the Center of the Universe: Discovering Our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmosby Joel R. Primack

That's a start. Or just browse my catalog under books tagged Astronomy/Cosmos for others.

Pete B

Fév 13, 2008, 12:54pm

Hi Erica,

You aren't going to have a lot of luck finding a single book covering all of that; cosmology ("the structure of the universe") and extrasolar planets are very different fields.

You're probably going to have more luck with the former. As it happens my father-in-law requested this sort of book for Christmas last year (my partner is an astronomer, and I have a PhD in astronomy but have left the field). I got him Dark Side of the Universe and Death by Black Hole. I would steer clear of any of the string-theory sort of things like The Elegant Universe. The Accelerating Universe might be an option -- the author is a good scientist, though I can't vouch one way or the other for his popularization abilities -- but the blurbs from Amazon give me pause, since the two astronomers they quote are, while not crackpots, firmly stuck in the past and refuse to accept modern results.

As for the extrasolar planet issue, I really think Sky & Telescope might be your best bet -- the most common book on LibraryThing is the badly outdated Planet Quest. It looks like the list of popular-level books and articles on hasn't been updated recently, either; there may just not be much out there.

Fév 13, 2008, 2:14pm

I'd be interested in such a book as well. I get my daily fix of APOD which has pics illustrating the latest events in the sky, with accompanying text sprinkled with links to give you more detail. I have few astronomy related books, but First Light by Richard Preston was a good find, and the book I am currently reading - Almost Everyone's Guide To Science by John Gribben - gives a very good high level summary (as of 1998).

Fév 13, 2008, 5:50pm

Hi All, Thanks for the suggestions.

Peteb, I found a bunch in your Catalog that sound good. Lorax, Death by Black Hole sounds interesting, and Noisy - thanks for reminding me about APOD - I haven't been there in awhile.

I will take some of your suggestions to the library and see what I can find!

Thanks Again,


Modifié : Fév 13, 2008, 6:02pm


I read Mario Livio's The Golden Ratio a few years ago, was not impressed, and have avoided his other books.

The only book of this sort I've had a look at recently is Many Worlds in One by Alex Vilenkin (and that only a couple of chapters). It seemed nicely written, and addresses some interesting cosmology (eternal inflation) that I don't know enough about to assess.

Fév 28, 2008, 10:49pm

I would highly recommend Blind Watchers of the Sky. I loved it. The author, Rocky Kolb, is a U. of Chicago prof who tours the country giving lectures to introduce people to the latest discoveries about the universe, so he's very good at striking a nice level of not so difficult. I bought it for me because I heard it was good and also fun. My husband (who is more "advanced" than I in science) started thumbing through it and the next thing you know, I had to wait my turn... We posted a combined review of it if you are interested in checking it out.

Avr 14, 2008, 12:54pm

I really liked "Foundations of Astronomy" by Michael Seeds. Covers an awful lot of material. Not the recent stuff like extrasolar planets (unless it's had another very recent edition), but still, a lot of good reference material.

Juil 25, 2012, 6:58pm

Have just come home from the library with 'EXTREME COSMOS' (2011) about the most extreme astronomical events and objects known. Will get back to you later with a review. And say, is there a Group in this website for Astronomy?

Modifié : Juil 25, 2012, 11:12pm

There's certainly a semi-active Skywatchers group.

There's also an Astronomy and Astrophysics group, but that one is pretty moribund.

Modifié : Juil 25, 2012, 11:31pm

Shywatchers is especially semi active when the clouds cover the skies for several straight weeks. There was some good viewing the last couple nights. Clouds back tonight though.

Juil 26, 2012, 5:43am

It sounds like you could do worse than reading Brian Cox's Wonders of the Universe and Wonders of the Solar System.

Août 2, 2012, 8:09pm

In 'EXTREME COSMOS' the chapter titles are: extreme... temperature, luminosity, time, size (wait a minute, does that really count?), speed, mass, sound (in a vacuum, no less), electricity & magnetism, gravity and density. By the time I finished it, I felt about one millimeter tall and weighing one micro-gram, if that, floating around a hot ball of gas on a speck of metallic dust. It reminded me of, as I'm told, how people are said to feel when they see the three-mile-high vertical mountain face in Pakistan, the name of which I have forgotten.