Cosmic Discoveries by David H. Levy
The Wonders of Astronomy

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Synopsis

For many millennia the starry night sky has been a source of wonder and awe to men and women who have tried to unravel the mystery of the billion distant lights that fill the heavens after dark. The story of the great discoverers who succeeded in explaining part of the mystery is told here with the joy and infectious enthusiasm that only a fellow discoverer can convey. David Levy, codiscoverer of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, with his wife, Wendee Wallach-Levy, evokes that marvelous moment of "Eureka!" as he masterfully relates each story. He gives the reader a glimpse of the enthralling adventure of cosmic discovery through stories of the most famous and brilliant astronomers. Beyond their personal accomplishments, these scientists expanded all of humanity's understanding of the universe and our place within it.

For example, Galileo's breathtaking discovery of the moons of Jupiter, new worlds that refused to orbit the sun, challenged the whole doctrine of the earth being the center of the universe. With the start of the 20th century, Shapley pushed back the envelope that had been opened by Galileo by proving that the center of our galaxy is very far beyond our own sun. And Hubble showed that even our galaxy is but a tiny part of a universe that is rapidly expanding. In describing these milestones of science, Levy reveals his own spirited conversations with such luminaries of the imagination as the discoverer of the planet Pluto, Clyde Tombaugh, and one of the world's greatest science fiction writers, Sir Arthur C. Clarke.

Through Levy's unique perspective on cosmic discovery, he is able to connect his own personal life story with that of astronomers of the past and by extension with the history of the whole universe. As the codiscoverer of the spectacular comet that crashed into Jupiter, Levy formulated a whole new range of exciting questions about the universe: Do comets serve to transport the elements of life from one planet to the next? What is the evidence that a large comet once hit the earth? Will the earth someday be in danger of colliding with another such comet and will we have the technology to stop it?

This fascinating book will excite any of us who have stared at the night sky in awe and amazement.
 

About David H. Levy

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David H. Levy, the science columnist for PARADE magazine, who took over Carl Sagan's post, is one of the world's foremost astronomers and a contributor to ASTRONOMY magazine. He has discovered 22 comets, including Shoemaker-Levy 9, which collided with Jupiter and made news around the world. In this easily understood book, he takes the armchair reader around the cosmos, introducing the major subjects studied by astronomy students in a manner non-students, and ageing ex-students can understand. Accompanied by b/w illustrations and a color section of important discoveries and maps, this book is the place to start for anybody who wants an introductory course or refresher course in a subject of extraordinary scope.
 
Published October 1, 2001 by Prometheus Books. 275 pages
Genres: Science & Math. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Cosmic Discoveries

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Astronomer Levy has had a busy year, publishing a biography of Eugene Shoemaker, who pioneered the study of impact craters (Shoemaker by Levy), as well as a littl

Aug 27 2001 | Read Full Review of Cosmic Discoveries: The Wonde...

Publishers Weekly

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Astronomer Levy has had a busy year, publishing a biography of Eugene Shoemaker, who pioneered the study of impact craters (Shoemaker by Levy), as well as a little book of reflections on famous writers' fascination with the night sky (Starry Night).

| Read Full Review of Cosmic Discoveries: The Wonde...

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