From Publishers Weekly
Amateur astronomers are the heroes of this latest opus from one of the country's best-known and most prolific science writers. Ferris (Coming of Age in the Milky Way) has a special place in his heart for these nonprofessionals who gaze into space out of wonderment and end up making discoveries about comets, the moon and the planets that change our understanding of the galaxy. Ferris recounts how he, as a boy growing up in working-class Florida, was first captivated by the spectacle of the night sky. He then looks at the growing field of amateur astronomy, where new technologies have allowed neophytes to see as much of the cosmos as professionals. The book introduces readers to memorable characters like Barbara Wilson, a one-time Texas housewife who turned to astronomy after her children were grown and has since helped found the George Observatory in Houston (where a number of new asteroids have been discovered) and developed a reputation as one of the most skilled amateur observers. Ferris also takes stock of what we know today about the cosmos and writes excitedly about the discoveries yet to come. With a glossary of terms and a guide for examining the sky, this book should turn many novices on to astronomy and captivate those already fascinated by the heavens.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Science writer and stargazer Ferris (The Whole Shebang) elaborates on his 1998 New Yorker essay about the renaissance of amateur astronomy, describing how advances in telescope design, electronics, and telecommunications have made it possible for amateur observers to discover new celestial objects. Improved technology and the sheer numbers of participants have also empowered amateurs to conduct round-the-clock or long-term research projects that complement the work of professional astronomers. Yet these same advances also render human eyes, hands, and sometimes even minds increasingly irrelevant to the practice of both amateur and professional astronomy. Perhaps as a counterpoint to this dismaying trend, Ferris frequently interrupts his narrative to introduce readers to individual amateur astronomers, from the well known (David Levy and Patrick Moore) to the more obscure or even surprising (Brian May of the rock group Queen). Appendixes provide useful tips and seasonal star maps (Northern Hemisphere only) for the beginning observer, facts and figures about various celestial bodies, and recommendations for further reading. Lyrical and engrossing, this book is highly recommended for public and academic libraries. [See the interview with Ferris on p. 112. Ed.] Nancy R. Curtis, Univ. of Maine Lib., Oron.- Nancy R. Curtis, Univ. of Maine Lib., Orono
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.