Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sizing Up the Universe

Oh, look. We live inside an exploding sponge. Dayam.

Sizing Up the Universe by J. Richard Gott and Robert J. Vanderbei is hands down the one and only Astronomy Atlas you need ever own, it's that good. As you can see by the link, it's got 9 reviews at Amazon so far, all 5-stars. I'd give it a 10 on a one to five scale.

What makes the book fantastic isn't just its attention to detail, but the wonderful way in which it makes one appreciate both the vastness and the beauty of the Universe, and in such a succinct and intelligently expositated way. No other Astronomy atlas comes close in my opinion.

Of course, like all books on Astronomy, things become dated fast. For example, we just found out since this book was published that Eris is smaller than Pluto, and this book has it as slightly larger. No big deal. Also, in one picture, I caught the moon being 10 Earth diameters away from Earth when it fact it's more on the order of 26 times, however, that was not the purpose of that page, rather, it was to show how small the Earth-Moon system is to larger astronomical objects. A minor oversight, to be sure, and an example of me being nitpicky, nothing more.

If you don't believe my praise, judge for yourself. The book is in most good bookstores right now, and deserves at least a 45-minute skim-read-look in a comfortable leather chair in same store.

Don't be surprised if you end up buying it.

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