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Book Reviews


Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life Beyond our Solar System
Author: Ray Jayawardhana

Publisher: Princeton University Press

ISBN: 978-0-691-14254-8

Price: £16.95 (Pb) 257pp


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If you’re looking for something to truly fire the imagination, then grab Ray Jayawardhana’s Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life Beyond our Solar System from the shelves of your nearest bookshop - you will be glad that you did!

Setting the scene with when exoplanets were just fantasy, Jayawardhana takes us on a four century voyage of discoveries and technologies that have enhanced our understanding of worlds outside of our Solar System. Moving through eras such as the times of Copernicus and the discovery of Jupiter’s moons by Galileo, the University of Toronto professor and Canada Research Chair in Observational Astrophysics vividly chronicles the latest findings, including his own, that serve as the major plan to unlocking the mysteries of the origin and evolution of planets and their planetary systems. Including gaseous hot jupiters and super-earths as part of the storytelling, Jayawardhana provides an incredibly comprehensive text where he has thoughtfully added a glossary explaining the scientific jargon that he has used very sparingly throughout.

In the final chapters of this book, things really start hotting up with Jayawardhana describing the characterisation of these distant worlds along with the search for planets just like our own. To make things that touch more mind-boggling, he throws in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), ending his text in such a way that you’re left wondering about our place in the Universe.

Providing an insider’s view that includes the debates and controversies at the very front line of exoplanet research, this book is a fascinating read. Adding the occasional splash of personal interlude, Jayawardhana has provided us with the most engaging nine chapters of cutting-edge research making this masterpiece a winner for a wide audience of readers.

Gemma Lavender

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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