Category : Astronomy Books

Discovering the Solar System Book Review

Discovering The Solar SystemThis is the second edition of Discovering the Solar System (ISBN 0470018313) and is said to be essential reading for all undergraduate students for whom astronomy or planetary science are components of their degrees, but also suitable for people with a keen interest in astronomy.

A small amount of scientific knowledge is assumed in addition to the familiaritiy with basic algebra and graphs.

Discovering the Solar System is definitely not a book for those who want to see amazing pictures of the cosmos as this book is mainly textual with very few images, those that are included are in black and white, although the book does include a number of tables and diagrams to aid your understanding of the subject.

Discovering the Solar System contains 12 chapters and it begins by covering the Sun and its family, then the origin of the solar system including solar nebular theories and the formation of satellites and rings of the giant planets.

Further chapters discuss small bodies in the solar system such as asteroids, comets and meteorites. There are two chapters covering the interiors of planets and satellites from a observational and theoretical basis including gravitational and magnetic field data to the models of individual bodies, such as the terrestrial planets, satellites and the giant planets.

The following three chapters then cover the surfaces of planets and satellites including methods and processes such as processes that produce the surfaces of planetary bodies, weakly active surfaces of the Moon, Mercury, Mars and icy surfaces. Then there is a chapter on looking at active surfaces of the Earth, Venus, Io and Icy surface moons.

The final three chapers discuss the atmospheres of various objects including the planets and satellites, rocky and icy-rocky bodies and finally the atmospheres of the giant planets.

Overall Discovering the Solar System is a very technical and in-depth book containing a lot of mathematical equations and examples. It also includes essay style questions at the end of every chapter with answer guides in the back. The book also contains in-depth glossary at the rear. A great book on the theory behind our galaxy.

Discovering the Solar System is available at Waterstones


Astrophotography Book Review

AstrophotographyAstrophotography ( ISBN 0540083127 ) begins with a brief introduction to the solar system, planet rotation, and our night’s sky. The book then covers astrophotography equipment, such as various cameras, film, lenses and tripods.

There is a nice section that runs you through what’s involved in a night’s photography such as preparations and ending the photo session. Astrophotography then contains several chapters on photographing the moon, the sun, the stars and the planets in turn.

Each chapter contains some great information on how best to photograph your subject and it suggests when and how to photograph including the best lenses and exposures to use. The book also contains information on how to build your own Haig equatorial camera mount.

There is an interesting chapter entitled “The Earth is a planet too!” which talks about other photography opportunities on our planet including taking shots of aurorae, rainbows, coronas, moonlight and twilight shots etc.

Astrophotography also contains information on taking photographs of meteors, satellites, aircraft and comets. There is then a chapter on processing your film, which is only of information to you if you use a non-digital camera.

Finally the last chapter is about digital photography, and new motorized and GoTo telescopes and what they mean to astrophotography. There is also information on performing afocal photography, which is where the camera is held or fitted to the eyepiece of the telescope. The use of CCD cameras and web cams are also discussed.

This edition of Astrophotography is the updated edition of 2002. I think one main area that disappointed me about this book was that I expected it to go into great detail about digital astrophotography, web cams and how to get the best out of pictures by using software such as photoshop.

Unfortunately the book does seem dated as it mainly covers 35mm film photography with just some information on digital photography at the end of the book. I think the book could do with a complete re-write. A lot of the information about astrophotography is common between whatever camera you use, but I would have thought that most astronomers now use digital cameras and laptops etc.

Otherwise astrophotography is a good book containing a lot of information about how to take photos of our solar system and the colour photos are really good. Overall Astrophotography is a good book on the introduction to film and digital photography, but it could have included more information on the latest imaging technologies and astrophotography imaging techniques.

Astrophotography is available at Waterstones


Solar System Observer’s Guide Book Review

Solar System Observers GuideThe Solar System Observer’s Guide (ISBN 0540088277) is one of many of the great astronomy books from Philips. The book is around 250 pages long, with some great colour astronomy photos throughout and the book is thoroughly readable.

Solar System Observer’s Guide begins with a basic introduction to our solar system and how the human eye works. You are also introduced to the various types of telescope and how they work as well as how binoculars work. There is also some information on astronomy drawing, using a web cam and astrophotography.

 

Each chapter in turn then covers the planets in our solar system including (in order in the book) Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

 

Each chapter gives you full data about each planet including its orbit and about the globe, as well as how to find the planet in the sky and what you will see in your telescope. Each chapter gives you a great introduction about each planet with many of the colour photographs included being taken by named astronomers.

 

After the planet chapters there are chapters on comets, meteors, our moon, the sun and about aurorae.

 

If you are after a handy sized book which gives you a general introduction to the solar system then consider the Solar Systems Observer’s Guide.

 

This book would also make a great astronomy book purchase for a child’s school project, especially at the prices that Philips charge for their books.

Solar System Observer’s Guide is available at Waterstones


The Planetary System Book Review

The Planetary SystemThe Planetary System ( ISBN 080538734X ) gives you a complete overview of the solar system. It gives you a great introduction to watching the sky together with the theory behind orbits, eclipses and the history of major researchers of astronomy.

 

Each chapter in turn in The Planetary System then discusses each planet in turn and other major sky items, such as satellites, asteroids and meteorites.

 

Within each chapter in The Planetary System is what you would see when looking at the object. Seasonal cycles of the planets are discussed, together with the topography and geologic features of the surfaces of the planets. Craters and surface views are also included as are intricate details about the planets atmosphere.

The end of every chapter includes a summary with key terms learnt. It also includes review questions, quantitative exercises and additional reading.

The Planetary System is quite a large book which contains a lot of information and some great photos and illustrations in a mixture of black and white and colour.

The Planetary System includes a lot of theory and some intricate science and formulae.

 

This may be a little advanced for a lot of us astronomers, but the book does give you specific insights into a lot of information about our solar system and our solar systems planets. If you want to learn a lot more about our solar system and the planets then The Planetary System is a great book.

 

The Planetary System also comes with Voyager SkyGazer College Edition software on CDROM.

 

The Planetary System is available at Waterstones


Astronomy For The Utterly Confused Book Review

Astronomy For The Utterly ConfusedAstronomy for the utterly confused (ISBN 0071471588) reminds me of the dummies guide series, as the front cover is black and yellow, plus the content is similar to what you would expect in a dummies guide.

 

The content of Astronomy for the utterly confused is very good and gives a very good overall coverage of the basics of astronomy.

 

The book only contains black and white content though, including images, which is a bit of a shame as sometimes the book calls you to notice the difference in colours in images, which you just can’t see, but I suppose this does keep the cost of the book down.

 

At the end of every chapter is a section of questions about the chapter you have just read, luckily the answers are also included.

Astronomy for the utterly confused contains 18 chapters, which covers a wide range of astronomy topics including key concepts and basic laws, solar nebula, planets, the suns role in our solar system, astrophysics basics, stars and galaxies, dark matter and the future of the universe.

There are some nice chapters on the early astronomers in history such as Johannes Kepler who discovered the orbit of Mars was an ellipse and not a circle, as well as Galileo Galilei who was the first scientist to use mathematics and perform experiments in a manner similar to modern scientists.

There are also some nice sections in Astronomy for the utterly confused on satellites and meteors.

Overall Astronomy for the utterly confused is a good introductory book on the general topic of astronomy, this is a great book to read for a general introduction, its just a shame the pictures are not in colour. Astronomy for the utterly confused would be really good for student projects or for a good overall read on astronomy for beginners.

Astronomy for the Utterly Confused is available at Waterstones


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