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.
David Goldberg, professor of physics at Drexel University, recommends the best books to start learning about cosmology. He explains his choices to high school student, Eric Bolton.
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.
The astronomy professor says the process of scientific discovery can be slow and messy – but that reading about some of the extraordinary personalities involved brings the history alive
Can’t tell your nebula from your black hole? The New Scientist writer introduces us to some of the wonders of the universe and tells the stories of astronomers who discovered them
Best-selling science writer, Dava Sobel, recommends books about the men whose painstaking work changed our understanding of Earth’s place in the universe.
Theoretical cosmologist Sean Carroll recommends five books about space, time and the universe that even the science-shy can understand and enjoy
Space historian Andrew Chaikin tells us about five books that capture the thrill and achievement of our venturing into the great beyond. He picks the best books on space exploration.
One of the Natural History Museum’s experts in meteoritics, Dr Caroline Smith says the meteorites that land on earth predate our planet by about 150 million years and it’s not surprising that they land here
The Professor of Astro-Physics at Oxford University selects five seminal books on the workings of the universe. Explains that to appreciate the true beauty of science is to understand its simplicity and universality
Geoscience professor and NASA adviser James Kasting talks us through the scientific possibilities for life beyond earth. He recommends books by both ‘optimists. and ‘pessimists.’