Taking us beyond the earthly limits of our home planet, astronomy helps us discover new horizons, in the solar system and beyond.
To come up with book recommendations on astronomy, we've interviewed Andrew Chaikin, author of A man on the moon, on space exploration, author Stuart Clark on astronomers, and science writer, Marcus Chown, on cosmology. If you're more interested in the possibility of extraterrestrial life, have a look at our book selections on life below the surface of the Earth and life beyond Earth.
Elsewhere astronomer Philip Plait explores the wonders of the universe, Dava Sobel, author of the award winning book Longitude chooses her best books on the early history of astronomy and Professor Andrew Lawrence looks at astronomy, physics and people. Pedro G Ferreira, professor of astrophysics at Oxford University, chooses his best books on the universe and Caroline Smith of London’s Natural History Museum looks at meteorites.
Life of Galileo
by Bertolt Brecht
Galileo’s Telescope: A European Story
by Franco Giudice, Massimo Bucciantini and Michele Camerota, translated by Catherine Bolton
Letters to Father: Sister Maria Celeste to Galileo
by Suor Maria Celeste (Virginia Galilei) and Dava Sobel (editor and translator)
On Trial for Reason: Science, Religion, and Culture in the Galileo Affair
by Maurice A. Finocchiaro
Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems
by Galileo Galilei & Stillman Drake (trans.)
The trial of Galileo by the Roman Inquisition was one of the most public confrontations between the new science emerging in the 17th century and the Catholic Church but, nearly 400 years later, there’s still a lot of scope to argue what it was about. Here historian of science Paula Findlen, a professor at Stanford University, explains the endless fascination of Galileo Galilei, the Renaissance man who turned a telescope to the sky and took the world by storm, and recommends the best books to start learning more about him.
The First Three Minutes
by Steven Weinberg
The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself
by Sean M Carroll
How the Universe Got Its Spots: Diary of a Finite Time in a Finite Space
by Janna Levin
A Brief History of Time
by Stephen Hawking
Black Holes and Time Warps
by Kip S Thorne
Before Einstein, how the universe began was a question for theologians, not scientists. Over a century later, we know much more, but not enough to do more than guess at what happened at the moment of the Big Bang and immediately after. Astrophysicist Dan Hooper, author of At the Edge of Time—a book that explores dark energy, dark matter and other things we don’t yet understand—talks us through books about the Big Bang, and questions whether our entire understanding of the universe is about to be turned upside down.
The ‘subterranaut’ describes how the discovery of ancient bacteria miles beneath the Earth’s surface opens the possibility of finding life on Mars. He picks five books that show how our knowledge of life deep in this planet could lead us to discover it elsewhere.
Philip Plait urges us to remember that “science isn’t an encyclopedia of facts to memorise. It’s alive.” The astronomer and author of the acclaimed Bad Astronomy blog discusses books that can’t help but light the fire of interest in all things astronomical. He looks at how we can date the age of the universe, the danger of solar flares, and why Pluto is no longer classed as a planet.