October 23, 2014

Review: Chasing Venus by Andrea Wulf.

A transit classic!

By now, you’d think that there was nothing new left to say about the transit of Venus. Fans of this space will remember our adventures chasing down the groundbreaking event last year as well as our reviews of the two landmark books The Transits of Venus & The Day the World Discovered the Sun on the history of Venusian transit chasing which we also reviewed. In the end, we’d thought that we’d covered the length and breadth of Venusian astronomical transit lore. But a curious find at, of all places, Middleton Place just outside of Charleston, South Carolina late last year proved us wrong… what, we wondered, was a book on astronomical history doing at a gift shop for an estate in the Deep South? And furthermore, why read such a tome now, with the next transit of Venus occurring on the far off date of 2117?

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Review: Strange New Worlds by Ray Jayawardhana.


It’s weird to stop and think that we now live in a time that we know of the existence 573 new exoplanets, and by the time this cyber-ink goes to press, that rolling number will become obsolete. “In my day,” (my halcyon youth of the 70’s) Eight-tracks where still cool and astronomers guessed that exoplanets had to be common, but no one had as of yet found definitive evidence that this was indeed the case. [Read more...]

Review: What Are Gamma-ray Bursts? by Joshua S. Bloom.

Out from Princeton Press!

In 1888, astronomer Simon Newcomb made the now infamous quip that “we are probably nearing the limit of all we can know about astronomy…” One has to wonder what these 19th century scientists would make of the wonderful cosmological menagerie of black holes, energetic galactic nuclei, and the topic of today’s review. [Read more...]