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Book Reviews


One Small Step: The Inside Story of Space Exploration
Author: David Whitehouse

Publisher: Quercus

ISBN: 978-1-84916-067-4

Price: £15 (Hb), 208pp


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Nobody thought that manned space exploration would be easy, or that the rate of progress would be fast. We seem to have had our first race and are now, hopefully, catching our breath before the next big push. Now is an ideal time for a well-considered history of the subject and Dr David Whitehouse, the space scientist and former BBC science correspondent, has provided a superb one.

We are presented with two treats. First is the book. This is lavishly illustrated and full of special insights into the bravery, exhilaration and dangers encountered by the men and women who made the first tentative steps into outer space, as well as the over-enthusiasm, secrecy and dirty tricks employed by one of the nations taking part. On the one hand we had the USA with its refreshing openness, with news media invited to every event, independent of its chance of success. And on the other, the USSR, a nation that was so paranoid about the possibility of their spacecraft and cosmonauts landing in non-Soviet territory that their craft could be blown up at any time, independent of whether they were manned or not. In the USSR failures were non-events and were not revealed to the public until many years later.

Whitehouse cleverly spices his interesting, well-researched and informative account with both numerous quotations from the people involved and with well-chosen illustrations.

The second treat is the included audio CD. Here we are presented with a well-chosen seventy minutes worth of snippets from over forty rare archive broadcasts. The beeps of orbiting Sputnik 1, and the announcements of Radio Moscow compete with the enthusiastic messages from those aboard the likes of Gemini 7, Vostok 6, Apollo 11, Apollo 17, Voskhod 1 and the first Columbia space shuttle launch. The book and the CD are an absolute joy and I recommend them most strongly.

David W Hughes

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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