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Book Reviews


Explorers of the Southern Sky
Authors: Raymond Haynes, Roslynn Haynes, David Malin, Richard McGee

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 978-0-521-14491-9

Price: £ 28.99 (Hb) 542pp


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Subtitled A History of Australian Astronomy, this book first appeared in 1996 and was a coup de force. It is pleasing that it has been re-released in paperback as original copies have been changing hands for vast sums.

The first five chapters provide geographic and historical accounts of the setting up of various observatories in the territories, the politics and main power men. Not until Chapter six do we start to get into the romance of the astronomy that took place from 1830s onwards – the grand amateurs down-under!

We read of the great Australian-born John Tebbutt (1834–1916) who was a superb planetary astronomer, a gifted comet hunter and an unfaltering theorist. Then there is Bart Jan Bok (1908–1983) who spent nine years as Director of Mount Stromlo Observatory in Canberra comprehensively observing the southern Milky Way and the Magellanic Clouds and also establishing Mount Stromlo as a visitor attraction with a massive public relations drive that was to serve as the site’s lifeblood after Bok had left. There is a detailed story of the development of ‘Cosmic Radio Astronomy’ – Messrs Madsen, Bruce, Martin, Pawsey, Bolton, Slee and Stanley all having their rightful place.

Another highlight of the book is the story of the discovery of the first quasar. Observing from the Parkes Radio Telescope in New South Wales under the supervision of John Bolton, Cyril Hazard accurately measured five occultations involving the Moon and the radio source 3C 273 on 5 August 1962, which then presented Maarten Schmidt the basis for his successful optical observations confirming Bolton’s late 1950s assumptions of redshift – the existence of quasars. The story is one of observing genius but is also one of a mean feat of engineering. Outstanding is the account of Robert Hanbury Brown of Jodrell Bank fame as well.

Another quality of this book is the substantial reference section, glossary and bibliography. All three confirm the authority of the authors as well as the post publication respect the global astronomical community has for this book.

Ian Welland

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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