Universe Book Review

I was given ‘Universe’ as a present from my brother on my 20th birthday.
The front of the book has a beautiful picture of NGC1850, located in the southern hemisphere galaxy the large Magellanic cloud. This is a cluster of stars the type of which is not found in our own galaxy, in that it has the composition of a globular cluster (very compact with a high number of stars) but all globulars in our galaxy contain old stars while this cluster contains young fledgling stars.

On the reverse there is a spellbinding picture of our closest galactic neighbour M31 with the inspirational quote from Einstein “Watch the stars and from them learn” here here old boy. Well then, lets open it up and take a look.

This is a weighty one, with 512 pages and about a foot in length. The book is very nicely structured it gradually leads the reader through a journey of the universe we live in. It includes a brief history of space exploration as well as a look at some of the founding fathers of astronomy including Ptolomy, al-Battani and Ulugh Beg.

However don’t be put off if you’ve never heard of these ancient star gazers as this book is more geared towards the layman. It was a vital book for me when i got it, it told me the things i needed to know in a way that was easy to understand.

Even though I’ve read it back to front and back again there are plenty of beautiful colour pictures of star clusters, emission and dark nebulae, quasars and of course all our planetary neighbours that means I still keep coming back to this book again and again.

The team have struck a perfect balance between information, awe inspiring glossy pictures and practical help for such issues as telescope operating and how to observe the heavens.

Towards the back of the book there is a guide to the constellations including a picture to help locate the grouping, a brief description of what to look for in the sky and Specific features to hunt down in a Telescope/Binocular. Some of the first objects i ever observed were found with the sound advice imbibed from this very book.

There is a problem however, as scientific discovery accelerates, past publications become incorrect, incomplete or down right obsolete.

There is only two pages for example designated for Exosolar planets. As the planet hunting telescope Kepler had not yet been launched. Now there have been over 400 planets discovered outside our solar system with perhaps as much as 10,000 being detected when the telescope completes its 3 year mission.

As such I couldn’t really recommend this one as i would say it would be better to buy a book more recently released. It cost £30 when it was still new, if you do wish to buy it, it’s available online and even in some of the better known book shops.

In summary, a fantastic book when it was released with lovely detailed photographs and interesting informative text.

When it was released I would have awarded 5 stars, but as it’s a bit out of date i’ll give it a 4.