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Book Reviews


Weird Astronomy: Tales of Unusual, Bizarre and Other Hard to Explain Observations
Author: David A J Seargent

Publisher: Springer

ISBN: 973-1-4419-6423-6

Price: £35.99 (Pb) 317pp


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This book comes from astronomy author David Seargent, and is loosely based on a selection of his past articles published in the magazine Southern Astronomy, later Sky and Space. The book still retains the disjointed, separated feel of a column but luckily this suits the subject matter and the read becomes reminiscent of a set of case studies involving the astronomically weird, wonderful, controversial and mysterious.

As the book’s title suggests, Seargent details strange and unexplainable observations, beginning with a brief explanation and leading to a more in-depth and often controversial debate over possible explanations. Topics spanning blinking stars, UFOs, fake planets and artificial structures on other planets are all covered in surprising depth and are accompanied by photographs where appropriate. All are attributed a fair and reasoned discussion of the observations followed up by an account of the conflicting opinion within the astronomical community (often involving particularly distinguished and respected past and present astronomers). The author’s opinion on the likely truth of each claim is obvious but never overbearing enough to make each article excessively biased, something often encountered in books such as this.

Subjects are split into categories and subsequently into more specific headings covering areas of Solar System and deep space astronomy including the Moon, Sun, planets, meteors, stars and star-like objects, all summed up with a chapter on “fallacies, unusual observations and other miscellaneous gleanings”. It is not just interesting but also useful to the amateur astronomer, providing dates of future eclipses, meteor showers and planetary transits along with general facts and trivia.

It is more a book to read in bouts than a page-turner, but it is a very interesting, educating and compelling read; perhaps understandable, as the controversial and ‘as-yet-unsolved’ nature of the subject matter invariably piques human interest.

Nicky Guttridge

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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