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Nearest Star: The Surprising Science of Our Sun Hardcover – May 11, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0674004672 ISBN-10: 0674004671 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; First Edition edition (May 11, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674004671
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674004672
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #655,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Taking advantage of the increased attention as the sun reaches the peak of its 11-year sunspot cycle, Harvard-Smithsonian astrophysicist Golub and Williams College astronomy professor Pasachoff deliver a clear, detailed and broadly informative overview of the scientific study of our "nearest star" and its effects on our planet. Other recent books cover some of the same territory in more detail (the energy production and internal structure of the sun and other stars in Stardust by John and Mary Gribbin and The Magic Furnace by Marcus Chown; the vulnerability of modern technology to intense solar activity in The 23rd Cycle by Sten Odenwald), but this book shines in its discussion of the properties of the sun's turbulent outer layers (chromosphere, photosphere and corona). It provides space- and astronomy-loving readers in-depth information about the many challenging projects that produced or are producing that knowledge, about advanced projects on the drawing board or in conceptual stages and about Web sites where readers can find more details and up-to-date developments. On the human level, the authors describe practical techniques to enhance the thrill of observing a total solar eclipse. The book ends with a discussion of the interaction between solar and terrestrial phenomena, comparing human contributions to climate change to the climatic influence of solar variation. Amateur astronomers will learn much from Golub and Pasachoff's study. Illus.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Coauthors Golub (astrophysics, Harvard Smithsonian Ctr. for Astrophysics) and Pasachoff (astronomy, Williams Coll.) describe for a nonspecialist audience what is currently known of the structure of the sun, the source of its enormous energy, its history and future, its various effects on Earth and its atmosphere, and the fascinating phenomena that occur during total solar eclipses. Some relevant tales from the history of solar research are also included. The strength of the book is that it is a "state of the art" report from two bona fide experts in the field. Weak portions of the work include the introductory chapter, which plunges readers into the thick of the subject matter, and a section that describes various future space missions. The latter portion is tedious, with many acronyms and technical details. The authors would have done well to omit this section and devote more attention to the details of the nuclear fusion processes that supply the sun's energy. With these reservations, the book is recommended for public and academic libraries. Jack W. Weigel, Ann Arbor, MI
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Many books that popularize certain scientific topics for a broad readership tend to be rather chatty and include several historical and biographical snipets. Not this book; it's densely packed with scientific information on its subject matter. From theories on the what happens in the sun's interior to the observed effects that solar activity has here on earth, this book covers most of it in fair detail. It is written clearly and the topics are well organized. Several colour plates, charts and diagrams do much to illustrate the ideas presented. Complete with a glossary, a list of references and an index, this book is well put together. It can serve as a springboard for readers who would like more details on certain specialized aspects of the workings of our nearest star. An excellent read!!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By S. L. Cranshaw on July 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Popular science books have to walk a difficult line between scientific detail and an accessible level of simplification. Golub and Pasaschoff do an admirable job here of elucidating what is a highly technical and intricate field. I was reading from only a high-school level of physics knowledge but found most of the book to be comprehensible. Some points left me wondering but sometime I would like to reread and try to work these out. The authors writing style is commendably clear and delineates well what is known, what is likely and what is yet to be discovered using a set of great diagrams and also some beautiful colour slides. Frequently, you may find yourself wondering, "how can they possibly know in such detail about such a distant object?" Fortunately the authors provide excellent and entertaining histories of how our understanding of the sun has developed over the millenia and these are often the most interesting part. The best thing about the book overall though has to be the authors' enthusiasm for the subject which truly imparts to the reader a sense of awe and wonder for our nearest star. Although the subject matter is not as exotic as you might find in The Elegant Universe or Brief History of Time, this too is a highly entertaining and well written exposition of contemporary science for the layman.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Matthew P. Whitehead on May 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed reading this book. Sometimes it can be easy to forget just how fascinating our sun really is. This book helps in this regard. It describes the theories of what the sun was like 5 billion years ago, compared with what it is like today. It discusses the visible part of the sun, as well as the interior of the sun. It also discusses the process of what makes the sun shine, as well as affects on earth, as well as space weather. All is very fascinating, though very complex. At times it is difficult to follow, and at times it gets slightly off the topic. Nevertheless, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about our sun.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kevin W. Parker on January 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a remarkably wide-ranging overview of topics relating to the Sun. It is, in fact, probably rather more wide-ranging than it needs to be. Rather than focusing on the subtitle, it includes chapters on eclipses and earth's climate as well as seemingly rather pointless asides on topics like carbon dating.
The core, however, is quite good, covering the history of solar science as well as our current understanding. A standout chapter covers planned space missions that will investigate the Sun, something I found particularly interesting since I am currently working on one of them (STEREO) and have worked on others in the past.
In summary, when it's good it's very good, but it tries to cover more than it needs to and disappoints in that respect.
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