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Books on Astronomy and Space - Reviews 

This New Ocean: The Story of the First Space Age by William E. Burrows 
An encyclopedic history of space exploration by an insider and veteran reporter who has lost nothing in his enthusiasm and respect for what humankind has wrought. But he tells it like it is, which means constant rivalry that pitted the air force against the CIA for control of spy satellites and saw the Department Of Defense turn apoplectic with the anointing of a new civilian space agency, NASA, born in 1958. Stir into this brew the science-driven egos at Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech and the rocket boys at Huntsville who were led by the indomitable Wernher von Braun. Now add the critical ingredient: the Cold War and nuclear threat and the loss of face that came with Sputnik and Gagarin. To counter that threat and restore a nation's pride, Kennedy's promise to put a man on the moon before the end of the '60s and explore ``this new ocean'' was well-nigh inevitable. It also meant that science for science's sake would take a backseat to realpolitik and the media. Burrows chronicles the events in authoritative if often over-rich detail, but he is enough of a fine reporter to lace the narrative with juicy quotes. When Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis LeMay was told of a plan to built a rocket plane to fly into orbit, he reportedly had only one question: ``Where's the bomb bay?'' Burrows is also not one to overlook the peccadilloes of the original Right Stuff Seven (excepting Glenn). Because of the separate tracks of the manned space program versus the planetary fly-bys and the need to cover Russian as well as American activities in these areas, there is some back-tracking and redundancy in the chronologies, and there are oft-repeated sermons on the disasters of life and science under Communism. But overall, this is likely to be the bible for those tracking a unique period in Earth history  - the ``first'' space age as Burrows terms it. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) (Author tour) --  Kirkus Reviews Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.  

Before the Beginning: Our Universe and Others by Martin J. Rees 
Although we cannot observe them (and they may be forever inaccessible), other universes are a natural expectation from current cosmology. Moreover, many features of our universe that otherwise seem baffling fall into place once we recognize this." Sir Martin Rees, the British Astronomer Royal, gives a vivid, occasionally acid tour of current astrophysics and cosmology, with insights into scientific politics, such as the enormous increase in the cost of the space telescope because of its association with the Space Shuttle. He also offers keen observations on personalities such as Subrahmayan Chandrasekhar and Isaac Newton, Yakov Zeldovich and Albert Einstein. Joseph Silk calls Before the Beginning "an unusual blend of wit, asperity and cosmology ... a combination of clarity and conciseness.  -- Science Editor's Recommended Book
Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 by Jim Lovell, Jeffrey Kluger
Out of the seven Apollo expeditions to land on the moon, six of the efforts succeeded outstandingly and one failed. Lost Moon is the story of the failure and the incredible heroism of the three astronauts who brought their crippled vehicle back to earth. This account--written by Jim Lovell, commander of the mission, and his talented coauthor, Jeffrey Kluger--captures the high drama of that unique event and is told in the vernacular of the men in the sky and on the ground who masterminded this triumph of heroism, intellectual brilliance, and raw courage. A thrilling story of a thrilling episode in the history of space exploration. -- James Michener
Countdown: A History of Space Flight by T. A. Heppenheimer
Once the exclusive province of science fiction, space flight is now the stuff of sober (though hardly dull) history. Heppenheimer (The Coming Quake, 1988, etc.) begins his survey with Tsiolkovsky, Oberth, and Goddard, the early-20th-century pioneers of rocketry. Their work came to fruition in the German V-2 missile, the foundation on which both the Soviets and Americans built their space programs after WW II. The military applications of rocketry were the primary attractions to both countries, especially the Soviets, who after the war found themselves playing catch-up with the US.  Stalin made it a national priority to create nuclear weapons and to find a way to deliver them to targets in America. It was his home-grown rocket scientists, led by Sergei Korolov, who made the breakthrough, symbolized by the launch of Sputnik I in 1957. That event pushed the space race into high gear- -leading to the Apollo program and everything that has followed. Heppenheimer shines the light as much on the backstage movers and shakers as on the astronauts themselves, a logical choice given his contention that the real gains of the space program have been achieved by robot probes and other uncrewed vehicles, which are now so reliable and commonplace that the public hardly notices their launches. Drawing on newly released material from Soviet archives, the book gives the most complete look to date at the problems and accomplishments of the Russian space effort. While Americans were first on the moon, the Soviets have concentrated on orbiting space stations, learning more about the long-term effects of weightlessness on the human body. Heppenheimer ends with a forecast of our near future in space, including more manned flights to the moon. Well-written, full of fascinating character studies and incidents, this is a solid, useful reference on what may be the defining accomplishment of our era. -- From Kirkus Reviews , April 1, 1997 Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
The Millennial Project: Colonizing the Galaxy in Eight Easy Steps by Marshall T. Savage, Arthur Charles Clarke (Introduction)
Drawing on a visionary synthesis of cutting-edge science, technological know-how, and informed speculation, the founder of the Millennial Foundation--the aim of which is to promote humankind's exploration of space--offers a bold yet practical blueprint for space exploration and colonization over the next 1,000 years. Photos. -- Synopsis,
Living in Space by G. Harry Stine
In the future those pioneers who travel and work in space will be no different from their predecessors who ventured into the unknown wilderness. One must know the physical characteristics of the space environment and the limitations of the human body. LIVING IN SPACE explains the technology necessary for staying alive, healthy, and happy in space; basic problems of working in space, and much more.

Living in Space explains technology necessary for staying alive, healthy, and happy in space; effects of acceleration on the human body; what we can expect from long-term effects of zero-g; what are the worst forms of ionizing radiation for human beings on Earth and in space, and why; nutrition and sanitation; basic problems of working in space; designs of human-operated devices; and space recreation. -- Synopsis

Do Your Ears Pop in Space?: And 500 Other Surprising Questions About Space Travel by R. Mike Mullane
From the fantastic everyday facts of life in outer space to the life-and-death decisions astronauts must face, veteran Shuttle astronaut Mike Mullane tells readers what space travel is really like as he answers the most common questions about space and the adventure of life as an astronaut. His combination of accessible scientific explanation, firsthand insight and hilarious anecdotes makes this book an unforgettable, out-of-this-world reading experience. -- The publisher, John Wiley & Sons
Black Holes: A Traveler's Guide by Clifford A. Pickover
Clifford Pickover, an extraordinarily prolific and polymathic research scientist at the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, has consistently been one of the most creative writers about computer graphics, scientific visualization, and mathematical models of natural and physical systems. This latest offering is classic Pickover in its wealth of information, ideas, bold speculations and and propositions -- including proposed "hands-on" experiments with black holes -- which just may turn out to be plausible. -- Science Editor's Recommended Book
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists in history, wrote the modern classic A Brief History of Time to help nonscientists understand the questions being asked by scientists today: Where did the universe come from? How and why did it begin? Will it come to an end, and if so, how? Hawking attempts to reveal these questions (and where we're looking for answers) using a minimum of technical jargon. Among the topics gracefully covered are gravity, black holes, the Big Bang, the nature of time, and physicists' search for a grand unifying theory. This is deep science; these concepts are so vast (or so tiny) as to cause vertigo while reading, and one can't help but marvel at Hawking's ability to synthesize this difficult subject for people not used to thinking about things like alternate dimensions. The journey is certainly worth taking, for, as Hawking says, the reward of understanding the universe may be a glimpse of "the mind of God." --Therese Littleton,
Secrets of the Night Sky: The Most Amazing Things in the Universe You Can See With the Naked Eyeby Bob Berman You don't need expensive instruments to appreciate the beauty of the night sky, as Bob Berman exuberantly demonstrates in Secrets of the Night Sky. Berman takes you on a tour of the night sky, pointing out its highlights and its history, along with a wealth of practical tips and tricks, such as how to categorize satellites that appear overhead. Secrets of the Night Sky is not only a how-to manual for enjoying the celestial sphere but is also a painless introduction to the science of cosmology. With a flair for analogies, Berman imparts a visceral understanding of the scale of stellar objects. And in case your explorations do lead you to buy a telescope, the book's appendices contain a variety of no-nonsense advice that may save you from getting fleeced. -- Science Editor's Recommended Book,
Comets: Creators and Destroyers by David H. Levy
 Comets have long dwelled in our imaginations as harbingers of fortune, good and bad, and this very human interest lies at the heart of the book. Comets, by astronomer and science writer David H. Levy (one of the discoverers of Comet Shoemaker-Levy, which battered Jupiter in 1994). He proves that you don't have to be a stargazer to succumb to the allure of the comet, inspiring the novice and satisfying the curious with up-to-date scientific fact, speculation, history, literature, and his own obvious enthusiasm for the subject. Whether exploring comets' role in seeding Earth with the building blocks of life or their link to mass extinctions, Comets consistently engages the reader with a conversational tone that provides just the right level of detail. These visitors from the fringes of our solar neighborhood are sure to rise on everyone's Top Ten Lists as the millennium approaches; this book outlines their relationship with our past and our future. --Rob Lightner,
The NASA Atlas of the Solar System by Ronald Greeley, Raymond Batson (Contributor), Geological Survey
 This spectacular atlas of the solar system is both an atlas and a brief history of astronomy. It is the result of various space probes to all major planets except Pluto and its statellite, Charon, and Saturn's moon, Titan. The probes have provided images for a set of maps that are uniform in format, with consistent scales, a first for any atlas of the solar system. Most of these images are digital, taken by electronic cameras that relayed the images back to Earth for viewing within hours of when they were recorded, resulting in maps that contain topographic, geophysical, geochemical, and geologic data.

A brief introduction explains digital image processing, photomosaics, types of maps, and an explanation of each map group in the atlas. Following the introduction is a good description of the solar system, the sun, terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and Earth's moon), Jovian planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune), small bodies (asteroids, comets, smaller planetary satellites) and Pluto, planetary processes, and geologic time. The rest of the atlas covers each planet and its satellites. Included in this section are the spectacular maps and drawings that make this atlas so unique. For the terrestrial planets, geology and geologic history are outlined, followed by information on the planet's satellites. Maps in these sections include geologic maps, shaded relief maps, and color photomosaics.  For the Jovian planets, there is a description of what is known about the surface of each planet and its satellites, with geologic and shaded relief maps. Pluto is the only planet that is unmapped because no spacecraft has visited there. The number of pages devoted to each planet ranges from more than 70 pages for the Jupiter system to less than 10 for the section on Pluto, asteroids, and comets.

This atlas is an excellent addition to the literature of our solar system, providing information that is understandable to students, laypersons, and researchers. It is a large, well-bound book that is up to date as of 1996. The layout is very pleasing, with crisp, clear color and black-and-white maps accompanied by a brief, descriptive text. Also included are a glossary, a summary of planetary spacecraft missions, basic data for planets and satellites, additional readings, sources for planetary images, a gazetteer, and an index. This is a recommended book for all libraries, especially public and academic. -- From Booklist , August 19, 1997 Copyright© 1997, American Library Association. All rights reserved.

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