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Book Reviews


Cosmic Collisions - The Hubble Atlas of Merging Galaxies
Author: Lars Lindberg Christensen, Davide de Martin, Raquel Yumi Shida

Publisher: Springer

ISBN: 978-0-387-93853-0

Price: £29.99 (Hb), 140pp


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This large format book by the team at ESO is a collection of galaxy pictures courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope. Over eighty images, all full colour and many blown up to a full page, easily make this one of the more beautiful books of the year. The text follows the evolution of galaxies, from how they formed, their properties and different types, and their eventual coalescence in mergers. The writing is a little uneven in places, but by and large is concise and informative. The picture captions can become repetitive, but you will never bore of looking at the fantastic snapshots of immense galaxies cascading into one another.

In their description of the evolution of galaxies, the authors gloss over some of the uncertainties that continue to test our understanding of galactic creation. Astronomers are now finding in the distant Universe massive galaxies that formed rapidly just 600 million years after the big bang. Even though we can (just about) explain their presence in this early epoch, their very existence is transforming our understanding of galaxies. For example, ultra compact galaxies, carrying a mass equal to our own Milky Way yet confined to an area just 3,000 light years across, have been detected in the early Universe. How could these galaxies have formed if not by mergers and how did they evolve into the galaxies that we know of today?

I would have liked to have seen Cosmic Collisions delve into the mysteries and surprises of galactic evolution a little more, rather than preferring to play things safe and simple.

All in all, however, Cosmic Collisions is a decent read and you will come back to it time and time again to look at the pictures. The only real stumbling block is the price – £30 for a book of pictures that are easily found on the Internet seems a bit steep to me, which I fear will put many people off.

Keith Cooper

2009 Yearbook
This 132-page special edition features the ultimate observing guide for 2009, a review of all the biggest news stories of 2008, in depth articles covering all aspects of astronomy and space missions for 2009, previews of International Year of Astronomy events and much, much more.
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Infinity Rising
This special publication features the photography of British astro-imager Nik Szymanek and covers a range of photographic methods from basic to advanced. Beautiful pictures of the night sky can be obtained with a simple camera and tripod before tackling more difficult projects, such as guided astrophotography through the telescope and CCD imaging.
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Exploring Mars
Astronomy Now is pleased to announce the publication of Exploring Mars. The very best images of Mars taken by orbiting spacecraft and NASA's Spirit and Opportunity rovers fill up the 98 glossy pages of this special edition!
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Mars rover poster
This new poster features some of the best pictures from NASA's amazing Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity.
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