- 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: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,731,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Nearest Star: The Surprising Science of Our Sun First Edition Edition
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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.
Top customer reviews
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Golub and Pasachoff lay out not just our knowledge of our star, but how we gained that knowledge. It has been a long process, gaining speed only in the last couple of centuries, and a far more convoluted path than at first glance it might appear. That's because the Earth and Sun interact, and it isn't always apparent what the cause of a particular effect is. Climate in particular is the product of a number of interacting and chaotic causes. Our orbit is elliptical, not circular; the Earth precesses on its axis; the Sun itself has cycles, the eleven-year sunspot cycle as well as other, longer cycles--and once we know all this, there's still more to understand.
We look at the Sun, and we see a great, glowing ball. It doesn't look complicated at all. Yet even before we had more advanced instruments, eclipses and the telescope let us discover and begin to study the photosphere of the Sun. The authors make the tale of how we made crucial discoveries, as well as the substance of those discoveries themselves, exciting and compelling.
The subject matter is at times demanding, but the writing is clear and understandable.
Recommended for anyone who enjoys good science writing.
I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley.
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.