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Book Reviews


Exploding Superstars
Authors: Alain Mazure and Stephane Basa

Publisher: Springer-Praxis

ISBN: 978-0-387-09547-9

Price: £19.99 (Pb), 168pp


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Never have I read a book with such a misleading title. Yes, while Exploding Superstars does contain a couple of chapters on supernovae and gamma-ray bursts, it is clear that the authors have gone ahead and written a book about cosmology, with supernovae playing just a tangential part in what they can tell us about dark energy, the first stars and galaxies, and the ultimate fate of the Universe. So that was a disappointment, and made me wonder whether I should review it as a book about supernovae, or as a book about cosmology.

Unfortunately, neither way makes the book seem much better. The trouble is that it all seems so brief, like the authors couldnŐt wait to progress on from the exposition of the chapters on supernovae and get on to the cosmology, and yet the cosmology sections lack detail and just retread old ground covered by many other books. Consequently the book comes across as unfocused rather than wide-ranging, with some topics such as quasars just shoehorned in for the sake of it.

There are quite a lot of diagrams and pictures throughout the book in black and white, but many of the photographs are reprinted in full colour towards the back of the book. Whilst this feels like filler, it does help with the labelled picture of NGC 6946, the labels on which are difficult to read in black and white but come out a little better in colour. For a beginner who knows little to nothing about supernovae, gamma-ray bursts and the expansion of the Universe, it is an easy and informative read, with all the maths and interesting concepts bundled into a number of appendices at the back. For anyone looking for greater insight, dare I say it would be a waste of twenty quid.

Keith Cooper

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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