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Complete Idiot's Guide to the Sun (The Complete Idiot's Guide) Paperback – August 5, 2003
He (Pasachoff) gently takes you by the hand and tells you everything you want to know about our star. -- Sky & Telescope, July 2004
About the Author
Dr. Jay Pasachoff received his Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard University in 1969. Since 1972, he has been the Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams University and the Director of Hopkins Observatory. He is also researcher at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and currently is a visiting scientist at Harvard University's Department of Astronomy, as well as the chair of the Working Group on Solar Eclipses of the International Astronomical Union. Dr. Pasachoff is the author of A Field Guide of Planets and Stars, Fourth Edition, and Nearest Star: Surprising Science of Our Sun (with Leon Glub).
Top customer reviews
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As with any book on science, it is up to date as is possible and you cannot ask for more than that. This is an excellent foundation for the never-ending quest for knowledge. Hats off to the "Complete Idiot's Guide" series. I always look to them first when I want to learn something new.
Dr. Pasachoff loves to talk about the Sun. If you didn't know before you bought the book, you'd find out soon enough. This is because he and his students have studied the Sun extensively for years, most notably through solar eclipses. At last count I think he'd been to 35 of them! In this book he takes all that knowledge and shares it, guiding you gently through the intricacies of how our star works, how it evolved, what we learn by studying it, what eclipses are, and how the Sun and Earth are interconnected.
Sure, you're going to learn some physics along the way, but it doesn't hurt! Dr. Pasachoff's approach just about guarantees you'll find something to appreciate at whatever level works for you. As in his textbook in physics (which I used lo these many years ago as a physics student), he uses some great examples from history and popular culture to teach about the Sun. Those just grab your attention in a way that less-colorful writing would not! And along the way you learn something about the really complex workings of our star. Give it a chance (despite the word "idiot" in the title) -- it's a neat way to get to know the Sun.
Jay Pasachoff is a preeminent scholar on the sun, but he was the wrong choice for this book (either that, or his editors really did a number his writing). When I read concepts that I myself understood clearly, and could perhaps have written that particular section, I found that I had to read them two or three times to make sure that, yes, this was what he was trying to explain.
This is not a book for idiots or laypeople. Idiots won't get it, because, well, they're idiots, and laypeople would get bogged down by the author's inability to relate relatively simple concepts. This book is a quagmire for anyone that wants to learn something about the sun.
Seek out the July 2004 issue of National Geographic if you really want to learn something, and don't know much. It's a terrific article, with wonderful color illustrations, cross sections - everything you could want to know.