Friday, March 11, 2016

Two Cool New Astro Books

It has been a good year for reading so far. Regular readers of my blog may have noticed that I've got the books I've recently read on the right sidebar of the blog under my recent tweets.

I finally got around to reading Hampton Sides' book In the Kingdom of the Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette. It was amazing and terrifying and I couldn't put it down. I also recently read William Shatner's surprisingly moving book about Leonard Nimoy: Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man. If you are a Star Trek fan, it is a must read.

In the realm of astronomy and space exploration (where my mind is much of the time), two books recently published are very much worth your time.

David Eicher's new book (it published late last year, but was very hard to get for a while) The New Cosmos: Answering Astronomy's Big Questions is an amazingly fact-filled look at modern astronomy. As the editor of Astronomy magazine, Dave has a front row seat and great perspective on all that's new and recently changed in the world of astronomy.

Dave gives an amazingly in-depth look at many of the big topics in modern astronomy including black holes, the fate of life on Earth (spoiler: it wont last as long as you might think), dark matter & dark energy, the size and scale of the universe, the fate of the universe and much more. As technical as this sounds, Dave still manages to interject his sense of humor and personal reflections on how the science has changed during his more than three decades working at Astronomy magazine. It's a great book if you need an update on the field of astronomy, but it would certainly work well for someone that just getting started with it too.
Not an astronomy book, Infinity Beckoned is instead a history of the robotic exploration of the solar system that focuses on the men and women that made it happen. Jay Gallentine clearly put an amazing amount of effort into digging up the inside information and personal stories of what was an amazing time in history of exploration. Tales of the Soviet Lunokhod lunar rover drivers, the Viking missions' search for life and the Soviet Venera missions to Venus left the biggest impressions on me, but the book is a wonderful history of robotic exploration. This is the second book in this series. Jay Gallentine's previous book Ambassadors From Earth looked at missions such as Sputnik, Explorer and the Voyager probes to the outer solar system, and while I enjoyed that one too, for me, Infinity Beckoned was even better.  

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