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Book Reviews


The Tunguska Mystery
Author: Vladimir Rubtsov

Publisher: Springer

ISBN: 978-0-387-76573-0

Price: £26.99 (Hb), 318pp


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On 24 June 1908 an object exploded above the skies of Siberia, flattening some 2,000 square kilometres of forest. But what exactly was this body and how does it relate to other phenomena observed at the same time? For example, its arrival was preceded by strange electromagnetic atmospheric phenomena, some surviving trees showed accelerated growth, radiation levels peaked and there are curious enrichments of rare elements in the soil.

Not all eyewitness accounts are in agreement either - some claimed to see a body 'fly' in a direction from south to north, while others saw it travel from east-south-east to west-north-west; does this mean there were in fact two Tunguska bodies? The most readily accepted conclusion is that of an asteroid or comet exploding a few kilometres above Earth's surface, but other more exotic hypotheses include a micro black hole passing through Earth, or the explosion of a spaceship.

Vladimir Rubtsov has clearly spent an enormous amount of time researching the event, delving into eyewitness accounts and scientific publications alike, and documenting the many excursions made to the epicentre of the blast by the likes of Leonid Kulik in the decades after the explosion, which were made in an attempt to find fragments of the exploding body. Rubtsov's dedication to the subject is reflected in the extensive reference list provided at the end of each chapter, and throughout he presents an unbiased account of all lines of investigation that have occurred to the present day, allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions.

The one hundred year old mystery has yet to give up all of its secrets, however, and there remains one vital piece of the puzzle missing - no fragments of the offending body have ever been recovered.

Emily Baldwin

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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