July 24, 2017

Review: Kepler and the Universe by David Love

On sale now…

One of the greatest and most tragic tales in the history of astronomy is the life of Johannes Kepler. And though many are familiar with the 16th-17th century scientist, mostly due to his laws of planetary motion, few know the story of Kepler the man. [Read more...]

August 2013-Life in the AstroBlogosphere: Adventures in Astrology

Gazing upon astronomy’s astrological past…

(Photo by author).

I was first bitten by the astrology bug in the 6th grade.

This was in the late 1970s, when Weekly Reader (remember Weekly Reader?) offered students mail order books to purchase. Astrology and new age mania was also at a fevered pitch.

I eagerly absorbed a book on astrology, like I did with every new subject I came across. (UFOs and Bigfoot were big then too). How simple and clear cut it all seemed! All of humanity could be divvied up into 12 trouble-free houses, all dictated by birth date. All triumphs and tribulations could be attributed to the heavens. After all, as the book stated, “If plants grown in different seasons are dissimilar, then why not people?” [Read more...]

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?

[Read more...]

Review: A More Perfect Heaven by Dava Sobel.

On Sale Now!

Behind every great scientific mind is a good publicist. This week, we look at one of the greatest, Nicholas Copernicus and the revolution in heliocentric thinking that sparked the Renaissance movement that became modern astronomy. The life and turbulent times of Copernicus is elegantly laid out in Dava Sobel’s new book, A More Perfect Heaven, How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos out from Walker & Company Books. [Read more...]

Review: Discoverers of the Universe by Michael Hoskin.

Out from Princeton Press.

Few realize that we owe much of our knowledge to an astronomical dynasty of the 18th-19th century. This week, we review Discoverers of the Universe by Michael Hoskin. This fascinating book covers the life and times of astronomers William and Caroline Herschel and the eventual hand off of the mantle of British astronomy to William’s son John. Much has been written about the pursuits of the Herschels, but Discoverers gives it to you in the kind of detail that we observational astronomers love. [Read more...]

Benjamin Banneker: An American Astronomer.

Early depiction of Banneker.
Early depiction of Banneker.
In today’s fast-paced day and age, most of us have access to nearly limitless information and knowledge. None of us can consume it all, but the flow of data is wide open for all who chose it.

But what of those in the past that had the mental capacity and the thirst for knowledge, but lacked the means to slake it? I sometimes wonder how many Newtons or Einsteins might have been born into poverty or ignorance, and what advancements we might have been robbed of…

[Read more...]