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Book Reviews


Galileo - Images of the Universe from Antiquity to the Telescope
Editor: Paolo Galuuzi

Publisher: Giunti

ISBN: 978-88-98-74233-8

Price: £32 (Hb), 442pp


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Timed to coincide with the IYA’s global celebration of the four-hundredth anniversary of Galileo’s groundbreaking work in viewing both the Moon and Jupiter, this epic book, sponsored by dozens of institutions and with a preface and forward list that lasts over 20 pages, sets its stall firmly in the realms of coffee table-sized masterpiece. Every page has exquisite photographs and imagery, depicting not only the work of the great Italian upon which the title rests, but also the most notable epochs in the history of astronomy itself. Each section is written with such attention to detail and passion by the separate authors that, in its own right, they could each be expanded into complete works themselves.

Going from ancient Egypt, Greece and Persia the book, which accompanies a major exhibition in Florence, does not even get to Galileo’s work on the Moon until page 246, a testament to the depth of research that has gone into creating this magnificent tome. Many of Galileo’s drawings are faithfully reproduced, and the image quality throughout is just glorious. Each chapter has an accompanying bibliography, which enables the reader to follow up on specific topics. The images of items in the exhibition make you want to hop on the first flight out to Italy to see these wonders in the flesh.

Whilst not diving into pure academic language, at times the text tends to over-inflate simple concepts and combined with sometimes strange translation anomalies, it can make the book a struggle to read, but as a collection of reference pieces to dip into it is worth sticking with.

Although the focus for IYA is on Galileo, I found it a glaringly huge omission, in a book of this magnitude and scope, that Thomas Harriot gets barely a mention, although it is true that his work on solar and lunar observations went largely unknown due to being unpublished for hundreds of years. The few mentions he gets in this book almost dismiss him and his work, in particular his maps of the Moon, which arguably were not bettered for decades.

Taken as a whole, though, the book is a superb piece of work and anyone visiting the exhibition in Florence would do well to pick up a copy.

Nick Howes

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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