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Sizing Up the Universe: The Cosmos in Perspective Hardcover – November 2, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic (November 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426206518
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426206511
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 10.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #550,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

From Sizing Up the Universe
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In this close-up view, the Carina Nebula features a pair of Bok globules (left and right), which are thought to be concentrations of dust condensing into yet-to-be-born stars. (NASA, ESA, p. 6-7) The Western Veil Nebula, known as the Witch’s Broom, is part of a huge supernova remnant that spans more than six moon widths (diameters) across in the night sky. (Robert J. Vanderbei, p. 8-9) The band of light known as the Milky Way is at its widest when one looks at it in the direction of the galactic center. (Jim Richardson, p. 25) The Pan-STARRS 1 telscope complex in Maui, Hawaii maps the sky. (Stephen L. Alvarez,. 44-45)

With 14,000,000-power magnification provided by a hypothetical supertelescope, we would be able to see dramatic views of nearby stars as well as the footprint Buzz Aldrin left behind on the moon. (Stars: Robert J. Vanderbei, p. 43) The moon is roughly a quarter the size of Earth. When astronauts on the moon looked back at Earth, it was four times the angular diameter of the moon as seen from Earth. (NASA, p. 144) The Butterfly Nebula, a dying star shedding gas. The ring of dust at the narrow waist, thrown off by the star earlier, now forces newly ejected gas out the top and bottom, creating a nebula that is more than two lightyears in diameter. (NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA, p. 187) Buzz Aldrin on the moon, photographed by Neil Armstrong. Armstrong is reflected in the visor. (NASA, p. 191)

Review

“A feast for the eyes and a banquet for the mind."
Neil de Grasse Tyson, best-selling author and NovaScienceNow host
 
“The genius of Sizing Up the Universe comes directly from the co-authors'
fertile brains. ... It may strike readers, meanwhile, that the authors
must have conjured up some sort of Einsteinian space warp to get so much
information, in such a variety of vivid, gorgeous and conceptually
brilliant forms, into a single book. You can pretty much open it to any
page and have an "aha!" moment that will embed itself in your brain. And
over time, without even noticing, you may even begin to grasp the true
immensity of the universe." ~Michael D. Lemonick, TIME.com
 
"It may strike readers...that the authors must have conjured up some sort of Einsteinian space warp to get so much information, in such a variety of vivid, gorgeous and conceptually brilliant forms, into a single book." --Time

"You can pretty much open it to any page and have an "aha!" moment that will embed itself in your brain." --Time

"The latest attempt to put the cosmos in perspective, and it may be the most effective yet — even though it takes the retro form of a physical book...it also conveys the relative sizes and distances of cosmic objects in so many different and ingenious ways that it becomes a little dizzying — in the best possible sense." –Time

"This is a wonderful book - one I had been waiting for ever since I was eight years old, and one that would make a memorable gift for imaginations young and old." –New Scientist

“magnified stunning views.” –Book News
 
“It’s impossible to fathom the scale of the universe, but Princeton professors Robert Vanderbei and J. Richard Gott sure as heck try.” –The Star Ledger (Newark)


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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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The book contains lots of great drawings and photographs with excellent quality.
Manuel Reyes Torres
If you know a teacher or student with an interest in astronomy, this is the holiday gift.
M B Fine
The charts in this book can be used to find objects in the sky in all four seasons.
Jvstin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By R. Belikov on November 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
There are many astronomy books that show beautiful pictures of the sky, and there are many smart books that give you a deep understanding of what those pictures are. Sometimes a book even does both together. However, after perusing almost any popular astronomy book, the reader is often left with only an abstract feeling of where and how big the different objects in the universe are, because the sizes and distances involved defy the human mind's grasp and intuition. Unlike Earthly objects, there are no cues in the night sky to help sense the sizes and distances involved -- the human mind is blind in this respect. A few books in the "powers of ten" style convey some understanding of the different scales in the universe, but this new book by Gott and Vanderbei accomplishes this in a truly superb manner. It is not only full of beautiful images and intelligent (yet accessible) text, but its main goal is to give the reader an intuitive understanding and appreciation of how big and far away the different objects in the universe are. It does this through many clever examples and juxtapositions which gradually build up a deep coherent picture and map of the entire known universe in the reader's mind. In addition, it also explains exactly how we know these sizes and distances. Some of the highlights include a beautiful fold-out logarithmic map of the universe (officially known as the Gott-Juric Map), and many amateur images by one of the co-authors (Vanderbei) taken from his backyard that anybody with a modest budget and a little bit of effort can reproduce. The book is also peppered with anecdotes and personal touches that make the text fun and accessible to read. After reading this book, when you look at the night sky, you will no longer see merely an abstract field of dots. Your mind's eye will be opened to the rich and magnificent universe we live in.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Michael W McElwain on November 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an spectacular book on sizes in the Universe. It is clearly written and illustrated with breathtaking imagery on everything from the constituents of our Solar System to the beginning of the Universe. Many of the featured places have comparison objects displayed in the exact scale, which is perfect for putting these hard to imagine sizes into perspective. This book belongs on the reference shelves of astronomers, in the classrooms of all science teachers, and on the coffee tables of all astronomy lovers!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M B Fine on November 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you have a child with an interest in space or "Big Things", this is the holiday gift. If you know a teacher or student with an interest in astronomy, this is the holiday gift. If you have an interest in space and a great way to compare sizes of objects in an easy-to-understand way, put it on someone's list, or better yet, buy it for yourself!!! My copy arrived roughly 3 hours ago and I quickly found Chapter 5 and 6 are just incredible. I recently retired after 40 years in the classroom and I wish this book had been available while I was still teaching. Oh well, it will make a great gift for some teachers on my list.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John J. Andrews on November 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Finally an astronomy book that focuses on the vastness of the Universe but without the intense math that discourages people. The public has grown so accustomed to seeing the wonderful images produced by land based and orbiting telescopes that the heavens have become compressed in their minds. The authors have gathered those fantastic images and added numerous crisp illustrations to explain in a new, refreshing way the real size of objects and the distances involved. It's like a second Big Bang! I loved the book and have discovered within its pages new ways of communicating the reality of our universe (such as recommending that folks purchase the book!). Most of it is material that has never been published before. Great job!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jvstin VINE VOICE on December 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
How big is the universe and the things that are in it? You can throw around all sorts of numbers. 93 million miles is the distance to the Sun. Jupiter has a diameter of 142,800 kilometers. Alpha Centauri is 4.3 light years away. It is 2 million light years to the Andromeda Galaxy, the furthest object visible with the naked eye.

But what does all that really mean? How do you wrap your way around those sizes and compare them to more familiar sizes and distances? J Richard Gott and Robert J Vanderbei, in National Geographic's Sizing Up the Universe, have set themselves this tall order--explain to the reader just how big things are, and tie it to the every day so that readers can get a handle around it. Also add in a gorgeous visual guide to the heavens, from star charts to pictures ranging from Neil Armstrong to the Cosmic Microwave Background, and you have Sizing Up the Universe.

The book starts off with apparent sizes of objects in the sky, starting with the Moon and moving its way upward. While I have seen many books explain size in a more conventional manner (and the book later does delve into the real size of objects), the authors obvious interest in astronomy and backyard sky viewing give them a perspective as to the apparent size of stellar objects that was illuminating even to a astronomy enthusiast like myself. I had no idea, for example, that the apparent size of the small dim smudge of the Andromeda Galaxy is actually much, much larger than that.

The book then launches itself into viewing the night skies, as a way to bridge the previous section with the subsequent ones, and again showing the astronomical interest of the authors. The charts in this book can be used to find objects in the sky in all four seasons.
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