Space Atlas by James Trefil
Mapping the Universe and Beyond

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Filled with lavish illustrations, this book is a grand tour of the universe. Three ever widening domains are presented--the planets, the stars, and the large scale universe itself--each including the ones before it and extending outward.

The tour starts close to home within the first domain, our own solar system. There is a tremendous variety here, from the sun scorched rocks of Mercury to the icy vastness of the Kuiper Belt beyond Pluto. We see the sun and planets born from the collapse of an interstellar dust cloud whose atoms were themselves created in long dead stars. Since many of these planets have been visited by space probes or landers, we are able to benefit from the incredible technology of exploration developed by NASA and its counterparts in other countries.

The second domain is made up of the billions of stars in our own Milky Way galaxy. We walk in the steps of the American astronomer Edwin Hubble, who first established that the universe is made up of discrete galaxies, then go on to examine the fundamental constituents of those galaxies--the stars. We see stars not as eternal lights in the sky, but as objects born out of a desperate struggle between pressure and gravity. We trace the life cycle of our own sun, from its birth 4.5 billion years ago to its quiet end 6 billion years in the future. We see the galaxy not as a serene and placid place, but as a giant factory, where primordial material is taken up into stars, then returned to the galaxy enriched with the heavy elements necessary for life.

Finally, we move to the ultimate domain--the large scale structure of the universe itself in which galaxies are the building blocks. We discover the most amazing fact, that the solid stuff of stars and planets on which we have been concentrating up to this point make up only a few percent of the mass in the universe, with the rest being composed of two mysterious entities called, respectively, dark matter and dark energy. We descend into deep caverns to see scientists trying to detect dark matter as it sweeps by the Earth, and we talk to theorists trying to solve the riddle of dark energy. This quest brings us to the frontier of knowledge, the edge of the unknown.

To conclude, two ultimate questions remain: How did the universe begin? How will the universe end? We trace our theories back to the first fraction of a second of the life of the universe and listen to the speculations of cosmologists about how it might all have started.

About James Trefil

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JAMES TREFIL is a physicist and author of more than 30 books, including The Laws of Nature and Other Worlds: The Solar System and Beyond. He is co-author of an influential textbook, Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy, and was a contributor to National Geographic's Encyclopedia of Space. A former physics professor at University of Virginia, he now teaches physics at George Mason University, and regularly gives presentations to judges and public officials on the intersection of science and law. The author lives in Washington, D.C..
Published November 6, 2012 by National Geographic. 336 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Science & Math. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Space Atlas

BC Books

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The very first image inside James Trefil's impressive National Geographic book Space Atlas is the We...For all those who ever dreamed of traveling to the stars, Space Atlas will surely keep those fantasies alive.

Nov 17 2012 | Read Full Review of Space Atlas: Mapping the Univ...

BC Books

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Space Atlas is broken into three sections: “The Solar System,” “The Galaxy,” and “The Universe.” Naturally, “The Solar System” offers the greatest amount of information since it has received the most amount of study by mankind.

Nov 18 2012 | Read Full Review of Space Atlas: Mapping the Univ...

Gr 6 Up—This stunningly beautiful and informative guide to the planets, stars, and beyond is illustrated in full color, providing photographs, art, and computer graphics that will draw readers into the mysteries and vastness of space. Brief biographies credit and introduce scientists who made imp...

Jun 01 2013 | Read Full Review of Space Atlas: Mapping the Univ...

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