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Saturday, November 03, 2012

 

National Geographic Space Atlas: Mapping the Universe and Beyond by James Trefil - Book review



Space Atlas

Mapping the Universe and Beyond


By: James Trefil, Ph.D.

Published: November 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
ISBN-10: 1426209711
ISBN-13: 978-1426209710
Publisher: National Geographic Books













"Space Atlas is a visual guide to the universe,starting with our own solar system and reaching out to the farthest galaxies and the mysteries of multiple universes", writes Robinson Professor of Physics at George Mason University, James Trefil, Ph.D., in his comprehensive and beautifully illustrated book Space Atlas: Mapping the Universe and Beyond. The author describes and explains the planets, stars, and galaxies; as well as more exotic objects and concepts including black holes, string theory, and the idea of the multiverse, in non-technical and engaging language.

James Trefil recognizes the awe and wonder of the stars, planets, and the entire universe. With profuse illustrations and over ninety pages of richly detailed star maps, the author guides the reader through the solar system, across the Milky Way, and beyond to other galaxies and to the edge of the known universe. James Trefil shares insightful information about the planets, stars, and galaxies and how they fit into the grand form of the universe. Each chapter begins with an orientation of the topic through four star charts that display the night skies, in full color, from our vantage point here on Earth. Each chapter devoted to a specific planet, within the solar system, contains a detailed map of the planet's surface.


James Trefil (photo left) offers a complete guided tour of all of the solar system planets, their moons, and such features as the asteroid belt, the Kuiper Belt, and the Oort cloud. The author combines his own background in physics, which adds tremendously to the forces at work across the universe, to the geographical and cartography aspects of the various worlds, stars, and other exotic space objects. From the big bang to an explanation of dark matter to the many remaining mysteries of space, the author shares his knowledge clearly and concisely for the reader.

The author divides the space atlas into three overarching chapters, plus an epilogue. Those sections are as follows:

8 the Solar System: Formation, planets, moons, and other objects
* The Galaxy: The Milky Way and other galaxies
* The Universe: Cosmology, structure, and its birth and death
* The Mysteries: Topics include string theory and multiverse possibility

Included in the book are the following enhancement features:

* 50 space maps, including 47 never before published
* 80 images from outer space
* 57 diagrams of key theories
* 278 fascinating statistics
* 300+ pages of up to date space information

For me, the power of the book is how James Trefil combines clear and succinct information about space with illustrative maps, star charts, and photographs that enhance that information. The author is a physicist, and his knowledge in that field enriches the understanding of the subject matter. At the back of the book are several detailed appendixes that provide additional data to supplement the material in the main book.

An added feature of the space atlas is the engaging foreword written by Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Overall, this is an extraordinary book, packed with the latest knowledge, informative and detailed maps, stunning photographs, and very useful charts. This is precisely the type of superior atlas that is expected from National Geographic; and they deliver on that promise with this deluxe edition.

I highly recommend the valuable and endlessly fascinating book Space Atlas: Mapping the Universe and Beyond by James Trefil, to anyone with an interest in space, the universe, or science in general. This book, with its lavish illustrations is a tremendous addition to the subjects of astronomy, physics, geography, and science in general.

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