An accessible and comprehensive overview of our universe by three eminent astrophysicists, based on an introductory course they have taught at Princeton University.
Tyson (Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier, 2012 etc.), the director of the Hayden Planetarium, Strauss (Astrophysics/Princeton Univ.), and Gott (Astrophysics/Princeton Univ.; The Cosmic Web: Mysterious Architecture of the Universe, 2016, etc.) have teamed up to introduce the latest discoveries by modern astrophysicists and the questions currently on their scientific agenda. The 24 chapters of the book are cleanly divided among the three authors. The first section, written primarily by Tyson, takes a big-picture look at the awesome “size and scale of the universe” and what we can now surmise about it from our vantage point here on Earth, based on man's 3,000-year quest to understand it. In the remainder of the book, the authors broaden the focus to consider the origin and subsequent history of the expanding universe. In part two, Strauss looks at how our vision of the universe has been changed by the development of modern radio telescopes and computers powerful enough to analyze the data they collect. “A century ago,” he writes, “[astronomers were] determining the dimensions of the Milky Way and our place in it.” Copernicus taught us that we are not at the center of the solar system, and today, astronomers are teaching us to accept that our galaxy is not the center of the universe. Strauss notes that with next-generation telescopes, astronomers will be making unanticipated discoveries while revealing the properties of faint galaxies and quasars and mapping the distribution of matter. In the third section, Gott reviews Einstein's theory of relativity and its implications for our potential to become galactic citizens and colonize space. Whatever the future holds, he concludes, our increasing understanding of the universe is in itself “a stunning accomplishment.”
An entertaining introduction to astronomy.