Year-end roundup, space and astronomy books

As promised in my recent blog, I am returning with a few suggestions of recent science books that are suitable for gift-giving. I haven’t read all of these in detail, but they are published by reputable publishers and written by credible authors. This is the second of three postings, organized by subject area, this time covering space and astronomy.

You might want to look at some of my PREVIOUS BLOG POSTS for other books on these areas, including my choice for SCIENCE BOOK OF THE YEAR, Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto by Alan Stern and David Grinspoon.

Of course, Pluto’s home, the Solar System, is a very tiny corner of the cosmos. For a broader perspective, we offer three other titles.

I am writing this on the release date of Ohio State University cosmologist and community outreach coordinator Paul M. Sutter’s enticing coverYour Place in the Universe: Understanding Our Big, Messy Existence , which has received a starred review in Publishers Weekly. The publisher describes it this way: How is a galaxy billions of lightyears away connected to us? Is our home nothing more than a tiny speck of blue in an ocean of night? In this exciting tour of a universe far larger than we can imagine, cosmologist Paul M. Sutter emphasizes how amazing it is that we are part of such a huge, complex, and mysterious place.

Another book that connects our world to the universe as a whole is coverLight of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth by University of Rochester astrophysics professor Adam Frank. According to the publisher, Frank follows the path of Carl Sagan, who likened “our ‘project of civilization’ to confused and troubled teenagers…in desperate need of a more knowledgeable, more experienced model to follow.” Our mentors, according to Frank, are more advanced civilizations in other solar systems. That intriguing premise earned the book many positive reviews, including stars from Booklist and the notably stingy Kirkus Reviews.

Our final choice explores an entity that challenges modern physics at the incompatible limits of General Relativity and Quantum Theory, coverEinstein’s Monsters: The Life and Times of Black Holes by Chris Impey, a distinguished professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona. The publisher’s description of this recipient of a starred review in Booklist notes: “Black holes were originally flights of theoretical fancy, difficult for even professional physicists to wrap their brains around. In Einstein’s Monsters, Chris Impey shows how modern astronomy has brought them into vivid focus, and conveys how much we’re learning about these extreme beasts with every passing year.”

These titles, and many more new books about space and astronomy, offer a universe of great reading!

Blogger and reviewer Fred Bortz is the author of numerous science books for young readers.

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