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Book Reviews


Hubble: A Journey Through Space and Time
Author: Edward J. Weiler

Publisher: Abrams

ISBN: 978-0-8109-8997-9

Price: £19.99 (Hb), 143pp


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This book describes itself on the dust jacket as “an authoritative account of the observatory that has revolutionized astronomy and photography in our time”. Good I thought to myself because there are quite enough coffee table books about the Hubble space telescope that are little more than a collection of attractive pictures.

After a promising foreword by Charles F Bolden Jr, NASA Administrator, the author informs us that after completing his PhD at Northwestern University he went to work at Princeton University as a young researcher. There Lyman Spitzer became his boss, who proposed an orbiting observatory as far back as 1946 and devoted much of his time in pursuit of that goal. “I often deeply reflect on my personal and professional relationship with the man who shall forever be remembered as the father of Hubble” states Weiler. Once the author was hired by NASA in 1978 he never imagined that he would become Hubble’s chief scientist for 20 years.

After a brief history of the telescope and an outline of its instruments we are indulged in some glorious pictures of the solar system. There are chapters on stars, interstellar clouds and galaxies before the book devotes a final section to servicing Hubble in orbit which I was pleased to see, accompanied by some excellent pictures of the telescope and astronauts in Earth orbit. When discussing the problem of the faulty mirror, the author says “If you had asked me to give you my biggest worries of a possible Hubble problem, this would not have been on my list”. This is a well presented book but I was a little disappointed by the text. I wanted to know how these pictures had advanced our knowledge of science, what we knew before Hubble and what we know now. Sometimes the book helped me, often it did not. Sadly this was far from the authoritative or in depth account that I had hoped for. Good for beginners but it is another coffee table book.

Robin Flegg

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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