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Revealing the Heart of the Galaxy: The Milky Way and its Black Hole Hardcover – November 25, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 204 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (November 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1107039185
  • ISBN-13: 978-1107039186
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.7 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,073,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"In his captivating book Sanders gives an authoritative and entertaining, easy to read account of this 'detective story', from the beginnings in the last century to the most recent developments. As he tells his story, Robert Sanders conveys to the reader the fascination of research, the often unexpected discoveries, but also the meandering path of the research towards better understanding and knowledge, including the 'human' side of some of the major players in the story. I highly recommend this book to readers who want to understand and get captivated by one of the highlight discoveries of the modern astronomy." - Reinhard Genzel, Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, Germany

"This book gives a personal enthusiastic and well informed view of the exciting discoveries in astronomy since 1950. Major advances in astronomy are led by technology, but the theme of this engagingly written book is the development of ideas, and how they are tested and refined as new observations become possible. Sanders' central subject is the revelation of the structure of our Milky Way galaxy with its "rather small" four million solar mass central black hole. However the reader will gain also insight into how astronomy and science develop via world-wide cooperation and debate. It is fun to read!" - Donald Lynden-Bell, Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge

Book Description

Written in an informal and engaging style, this volume traces the discoveries that led to our understanding of the size and structure of the Milky Way and the conclusive evidence for a massive black hole at its center.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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This is a good book; I enjoyed it and learned some things from it.
Christopher K. Koenigsberg
A glossary of scientific terms would been helpful but, alas, was not included.
Paul Brooks
Sanders' presents us with a book which is both detailed and enjoyable.
Just Me

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Metallurgist TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 18, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a very interesting and very well written book. This is not a “gee whiz” picture book, nor is it a dense mathematical tome that describes the astrophysics of galaxy formation. It takes the middle ground – telling the story of galaxy formation in terms of the astronomers and physicists who were instrumental in developing the ideas about its development. The writing is clear and written for a general audience, although I think that astronomers and physicists will also appreciate the story of the way in which our understanding of our galaxy has evolved over the last century of so.

The book traces the history of our understanding of our galaxy from the beginning of the 20th century to our current day’s understanding of it. While the concepts of general relativity are covered with a focus on understanding black holes, the discussion is general and non-mathematical, although a few simple equations, such as F=ma and the expression for the Schwarzschild radius are included. The book also discusses radio astronomy – its evolution as an important tool for modern astronomy, as well as how it is being used to reveal the heart of our galaxy.

The focus of the book is on how galaxies evolve and the importance of black holes to this process. The book contains black and white photographs of galaxies, photographs of astronomers and some of the important graphs that tell the story of galaxy formation. In my opinion it strikes just the right balance between the human story of the men and woman who made the discoveries that have led us to our current understanding of galaxies, and the nature of these discoveries. I think that it a very good book for an interested layman who wants more than just pretty pictures, but does not want a book on astrophysics. It was just right for me and I highly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Librum VINE VOICE on February 28, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
RHG is popular science writing of a very high order. Especially gratifying for this reader was the author's departure from one of the standard practices in popular science writing -- illustration through analogy or metaphor. The history Sanders lays out he tells rigorously with reference to theory, fact, and experiment. For a non-expert in the field, the exposition can be challenging in places, but nowhere is it pitched beyond the grasp of the intelligent (and persistent) lay reader. The fact that the book in review is a large format Oxford Press publication, and that it is liberally strewn with scientific diagrams, tables, etc., may give someone casually perusing it the impression that it is intended for specialists. I hope my own review serves as a corrective to this impression. For anyone who looks in awe on the cosmos and wonders what we know about it and how we do, RHG is a feast. Sanders is both a lucid and highly entertaining guide. I'd read more such books by him in a heartbeat.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David Zampino VINE VOICE on March 12, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
. . . and wish that I could give it five stars. But I can't.

The book is described as "written in an informal and engaging style" and tells the history of the advances in astronomy over the last 125 years or so, leading to much better understanding of stellar evolution; how the galaxy (ours and others) were formed; and the gradual realization that an hypothetical mathematical construct predicting the existence of black holes, was, in all probability the reality that exists, not merely in the collapse of super-giant stars -- but, in a massive form, in the center of our galaxy (and many/most? others).

As an historian, and as someone who has more than a passing amateur interest in the sciences (especially astronomy) I really enjoyed this book.

But "informal and engaging" -- not so much. Way, way too much higher mathematics for anyone who is not a scientist or mathematician. And this was a real detraction. If I have to consult a scientist to explain the mathematics (and I'm smarter than your average bear!) then the book is not written for the layman.

As history, this book is fascinating. The scientific narrative is fascinating. The mathematics pushes this book out of the reach of most.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Christopher K. Koenigsberg VINE VOICE on March 15, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Disclaimer: I am reading an advance unproofread copy that I received for free through the Vine program.

This is a good book; I enjoyed it and learned some things from it. It is kind of on the technical side though so average readers might not be able to get so much out of it.

There are equations, and charts/graphs. Me I was a Mathematics major so I can follow them and I enjoy/appreciate them but you'll have to decide if you can or if they'll put you off.

I've been reading a number of cosmology books lately by theorists; this is an interesting contrast because it's from an observer, so there's a bias towards specific measurements, angles, sizes, numbers & stuff like that, with less "big picture" sorts of speculations. But still very interesting and informative

The book takes us through a number of "mystery stories" where observers gradually were able to penetrate some sort of dust cloud, limit of existing equipment resolution, etc. before they made/confirmed new discoveries that advanced our understanding.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By hasselaar VINE VOICE on March 24, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
While I learned a lot by reading this book, I found it took much more effort than it should have. This is a topic that interests me, and one that that I have followed in science magazines. Nevertheless, I struggled, and I have a Ph.D in Mechanical Engineering.. This book would have greatly benefited from better graphics and colors. The concepts would have been much more clear. I also felt like this was two different books in one, causing extra confusion and distraction. It should have either focused on the history of galactic astronomy, or galaxies themselves. While trying to grasp and appreciate new aspects of nature, I was interrupted by tales of Dutch countryside or another astronomer's personality quirks. These might interesting to some, but it made my quest more difficult. It is a worthwhile book, but it could have been so much more.
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