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Book Reviews


Space Conquest - The Complete History of Manned Spaceflight
Authors: Francis Dreer

Publisher: Haynes Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-84425-573-3

Price: £25 (Hb), 208pp


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Haynes are normally associated with their extensive range of car manuals but in recent times they have expanded into other fields, including space. But this book doesn’t go into great technical detail about how rockets and spacecraft work, and some of the information is patchy. What the book does have is hundreds of (mainly colour) photographs from the past fifty years of manned spaceflight, from Vostok to the ISS. The large format shows them off well. Included are the usual favourites (Aldrin on the Moon, space shuttle and Mir) but also some other less-often seen images (such as the interior shot of Soyuz 22). The text has been translated from the original French version (published in 2007) by Ken Smith, who has done a good job, but the material is not new and the reader is unlikely to find anything not already published elsewhere.

The book is in chronological order, with a reasonable index. I do have a minor niggle with the words 'complete history' in the book’s title: whilst details (launch date, crews, etc) of the early spaceflight programmes are tabulated, the last entry is for STS-4 Columbia in 1982. To find anything more recent the reader will have to search through the text, and for missions not covered turn to other sources. The Challenger and Columbia disasters are documented, and there is a page about British astronauts Michael Foale and Helen Sharman but not Piers Sellers. The Hubble Space Telescope gets a few pages by virtue of the fact that manned missions have been vital in keeping the telescope operational.

What the book covers, it covers well, but I was expecting a lot more. In the year that we have celebrated the fortieth anniversary of the Apollo Moon landings it’s a good book to have on your coffee table for your non-space enthusiast friends to browse through.

Nick Quinn

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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