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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read who anyone who enjoys a good read
This book easily makes my "ten best books ever" list. It's the story of the scientists using the Palomar 200-inch telescope to look for the edge of the observable universe. But it's more than that. Like an involving novel (even though this is non-fiction), it's also a portrait of the engaging, human, and sometimes quirky characters involved. Finally, First Light...
Published on February 13, 1997

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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Light Reading, but Uneven
First Light starts out well by dealing with the Hale Telescope itself and the folks that work there (and in one case, actually keep the scope running). Preston also deals with some of the things the Hale had been used for years ago, concentrating on Dr. Schmidt's discovery of Quasars in the 1960s.
Part II deals with Eugene and Carolyn Shoemaker's search for Trojan...
Published on September 5, 2001 by Doc Kinne


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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read who anyone who enjoys a good read, February 13, 1997
By A Customer
This book easily makes my "ten best books ever" list. It's the story of the scientists using the Palomar 200-inch telescope to look for the edge of the observable universe. But it's more than that. Like an involving novel (even though this is non-fiction), it's also a portrait of the engaging, human, and sometimes quirky characters involved. Finally, First Light is a stylishly written, seductive explanation of what's at stake as the science team tries to "drill wildcat holes in look-back time." Even if you hate science and care nothing for astronomy, this book will charm and delight you
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book worth owning. . ., July 17, 2003
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I adore this book. Of course, I must give a disclaimer, I've always loved the subject of astronomy ever since I was very small. Unfortunately for me, I lacked the patience and the math skills to really delve into it, but books like Preston's, which are written for the layman but dare to delve a little, are a great read.
'First Light' follows two different groups of people: one working at the famed Palomar Telescope in Pasadena; the other, Carolyn and Eugene Shoemaker of the Shoemaker Comets fame. The book is rich with detail and lovingly paints a picture of the kindly, eccentric and brilliant people who inhabit that world. Especially wonderful are the analogies that help you understand how large the universe is when compared to objects around us (i.e., "Imagine the sun the size of the dot on this i. . .").
No, the writing isn't flawless, but the depth of detail and the easy flow of the narrative will keep you reading. . .
Highly recommended for all ages.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read for those interested in astronomy, December 21, 2001
By 
Rebecca S. (Pittsburgh, PA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: First Light: The Search for the Edge of the Universe (Paperback)
If you are somebody who loves astronomy, then look no further. While this isn't "the best book about astronomy ever written", it is a great book. I got this book when I was thirteen and have loved it ever since. The author tends to jump around a lot, which can be a little annoying and why I only gave it four stars instead of five. Although I liked the part about the Shoemakers, I don't see how that fits in with the purpose of the book. But aside from that, the section about the Shoemakers is really interesting and sometimes funny, like when Carolyn Shoemaker was teaching the author how to change film. The other astronomers are also very interesting, and the book helps debunk some of the myths about astronomers, such as they are all boring nerds, which some people still actually think. While I don't believe it's the "perfect" astronomy book, it makes astronomy seem much more human and relevant than you might think. The author keeps the book moving (although again, he skips around a lot), and it should be enjoyable for anybody looking for a great read.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Light Reading, but Uneven, September 5, 2001
By 
Doc Kinne (Somerville, MA USA) - See all my reviews
First Light starts out well by dealing with the Hale Telescope itself and the folks that work there (and in one case, actually keep the scope running). Preston also deals with some of the things the Hale had been used for years ago, concentrating on Dr. Schmidt's discovery of Quasars in the 1960s.
Part II deals with Eugene and Carolyn Shoemaker's search for Trojan Asteroids orbit out near Jupiter. They used not the Hale Scope, but another, smaller, scope also on Mt. Palomar. While this is the best part of the book (the section on the Shoemaker's teaching Preston how to help them load film into the telescope is easily the best two pages of the book!), one wonders if it belongs here as this section deals neither with the Hale nor with anything near the edge of the Universe.
After the Shoemaker's section the book seems to lose its momentum and finally ends with little sense of closure. While you get an interesting sense of watching scientists at work this work is not presented as specific or highly interesting. Most of it is watching quasar candidates go by during observing runs on video screens.
In the end, this book has its moments, but is uneven in how it delivers them. If you're interested in a light read about this subject with little technical information and some (but not a lot) personality insights this book may be worth it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing look at an awe-inspiring profession, August 23, 1998
By A Customer
First Light isn't a science popularization, like you might expect from authors such as Gould, Sacks, or Hawking. Instead, like the author's later book The Hot Zone, this is a very human story, told in an engrossing, narrative fashion. If you're looking for a galactic primer, there are better books. But if you're looking for a look at the daily life and work of astronomers on the cutting-edge, no better book has been written.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An intimidating subject brought down to earth, June 8, 1999
By A Customer
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Preston's storytelling is compelling and very readable. The science of astronomy is accessible and its practitioners become real-life, normal human beings. Preston's writing is enlightening, instructional and engaging, without any condescension related to the science. Great book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite book, January 31, 1999
By A Customer
This is an engaging book about a subject which most people know little about. It surprised me so much the way it drew me in and taught me so much about this fascinating world of astronomy. I can't wait to read all his books
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting read, August 8, 1998
By A Customer
Reading this not only provides you with lots of factual information about astronomy but also takes you into the lives of astronomers, how human they are despite their absolute brilliance. I was never much for astronomy before but this book incites such a great interest for the subject in its readers. the best thing about this is that although this book is about hard-core science, even a layman can understand and appreciate it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stand in the shoes of the folks with their eyes on the skies, June 9, 2000
By 
John O'Donnell (Lake Oswego, OR USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The book has a cast of quirky but larger than life characters, including the awesome two hundred-inch Hale Telescope at the Palomar Observatory in California that took fourteen years to cast and polish.
The draw for this book is how these astronomers make their incredible discoveries fueled by Oreo cookies, using parts from dumpsters, and keep it held together with Palomar glue (rolls of cheap transparent duct tape).
The book is broken into three interwoven areas: the gear, the folks, and the discoveries. The first looks at the seven story tall Hale, the heaviest working telescope on earth, with a mirror that is two hundred inches wide.
The book is packed with many interesting characters such as Bernhard Schmidt, the inventor of the Schmidt telescope. A one-armed man with many personal flaws, but who could see with perfect clarity how to create a telescope to such perfection you could photograph tree twigs at two miles lit only by starlight.
The book is packed with facts and insights into what drives the astronomers to use the big eyes to solve the riddles of the universe. This book would be an enjoyable read anyone who would like to learn what it is like to be standing in the shoes of the folks that always have their eyes on the skies.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Reading, June 20, 2008
By 
Paul F. Nelson (Denmark, WA Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: First Light (Paperback)
This is a top read, and in fact, I've read this book about 4 times, if you count all the times that I pick it up and have a go again. The narrative takes you right into the workings of the "Big Eye", and the real people that make her work. You will feel good reading this. You will feel that there are pursuits for man other than being destructive and negative.
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First Light: The Search for the Edge of the Universe
First Light: The Search for the Edge of the Universe by Richard Preston (Paperback - October 29, 1996)
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