Last year, several new sky atlases were published, all aimed at beginning sky gazers.
The first to appear was Firefly’s “Night Sky Atlas” by Robin Scagell with maps by Wil Tiron. This is the second edition with ISBN 13:978-1-7708-5142-9 (paperback) with a list price of $29.95.
I previously reviewed this book in my Oct. 14, 2012, column. “Night Sky Atlas” is aimed at beginners who want to explore the night sky with their eyes, binoculars or small telescope.
A quite different book is National Geographic”s “Space Atlas” by Dr. James Trefil, a Physics faculty member at George Mason University in Virginia. Trefil has written nearly 50 books.
Some Trefil books that I have used include “Science Matters” and “The Sciences” an integrated Natural Science college text.
“Space Atlas” has ISBN 978-1-4262-0971-0 and its hardcover price is $50. The Introduction focuses on three “spearmen,” scientists who greatly enlarged our perspective of the universe.
First was Nicolaus Copernicus, whose ideas moved the center of the universe from the Earth to the Sun. Second was Friedrich Bessel, the first scientist to accurately measure the distance to a star in the night sky. Third was Edwin Hubble, who discovered that there were other galaxies (besides our own), measured their distance and concluded that the universe was expanding.
There follows a stunning array of full colored seasonal sky maps, showing the bright stars, their constellations and the sun’s positions along its path.
The next section of “Space Atlas” is “The Solar System” showing the planet’s orbits in two cartographic diagrams of the inner planets and the outer planets, which includes Pluto.
“Space Atlas” starts with the formation of our solar system, explaining the differences between the small inner planets and the giant planets.
The treatment of Mercury features cartographic maps of Mercury’s entire surface from NASA’s Messenger which is now orbiting Mercury. Many of Mercury’s features are named after classical composers and famous painters.
There is a similar treatment of Venus, whose prominent features are named after deities from world mythology and noted women from literature.
Key Earth features on the cartographic maps include Iceland, the Andes Mountains, Challenger Deep (the lowest point on Earth, nearly 36,000 feet below the ocean’s surface) and the Himalaya Mountains.
Our Moon also has its own sets of cartographic maps, including the hidden side of the moon, whose features bear the names of European scientists.
Mars features on its cartographical map include Vastitas Borealis, a low land region covered with water ice. There is a brief treatment of the Asteroid Belt.
Jupiter’s atmospheric map shows one side of the giant planet where the Great Red Spot dwells, formed by high pressure gases spinning downward. Jupiter’s inner two giant moons are given a full set of cartographic maps.
We know that Io, the innermost big moon has 400 active volcanoes. Another revelation is that the next big moon, Europa has an ocean under its icy crust.
There is detailed map of Saturn’s cloud belts plus a full set of maps of seven notable moons of Saturn. Uranus and Neptune, called twins for their size, rotation speed and encircling rings, feature detailed maps of four moons of Uranus and Neptune’s Triton.
Moving out of the solar system, there is two-page spread of our galaxy, showing our sun’s position within. There follows a look at our star, the sun. We can take the sun’s pulse through neutrinos, ghost like particles that fly from the sun’s center to its visible surface in 2.5 seconds.
Next to be covered are exoplanets, planetary systems about other stars.
The last section of “Space Atlas” treats a number of popular topics including aged stars, exploding stars, the smallest stars, black holes, dark matter, the distribution of galaxies across the known universe and the beginning of the universe.
I recommend that “Space Atlas” be purchased for middle school and high school libraries as well as public libraries.
SKY SIGHTS AHEAD: The moon was full late yesterday evening. Tomorrow evening the moon will appear near the star Regulus of Leo. By early February, the moon will have moved into the morning sky, rising after midnight.
The planet Jupiter is that bright, steady point high in the evening sky, brighter than any night star.
Bob Doyle invites any readers comments and questions. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org . He is available as a speaker on his column topics.
Last year, several new sky atlases were published, all aimed at beginning sky gazers.
There are an estimated 47,000 deceased veterans whose remains are unidentified and unclaimed throughout the U.S. A group of senators and congressmen hope to do something to
bring these men and women some dignity after death.
For the world’s more than 2 billion Christians, Easter is the day that defines their faith.
The exact date of Christ’s resurrection is unknown, and even the precise locations of his crucifixion and burial are uncertain. This hasn’t stopped some people from saying they know the answer to these questions and others from trying to find out for themselves, or simply arguing about it.
Odds are good that you didn’t know this
Odds or Probabilities fascinate many people. There is a special website called www.BookOfOdds.com and an accompanying location on Facebook at /BookofOdds .This website lists 400,000 odds. Three of the people who are involved in this media display have coauthored a book, “The Book of Odds” that presents some of key odds, drawing from polls and statistics published in journals. The authors are A. Shapiro, L.F. Campbell and R. Wright. This paperback was published this year by Harper Collins with ISBN 978-0-06-206085-3.
Trivial questions you don’t have to answer
Every so often in this life, my mind, all on its own, generates questions that have no real answers. So I have decided to pass them on to you. I’m tired of them. If you come up with any answers, let me know. Remember when TV jealously guarded the time zone before 9 p.m. for wholesome shows that children could watch. My gosh, how many years ago was that? It seems like another world nowadays, when you can see murders, torture and rape, or those implied, every hour on the hour, somewhere on your public screen. It might be comforting then, to remember that most children nowadays are glued to their little machines with whole different worlds on them, that they can access all day long. Except that in these different worlds they also can view murders, torture and rape on demand.
Think it’s not a small world? You’re wrong
Yes, you read that right in the paper a couple of weeks ago. I covered a wedding as a newspaper reporter. I’ve retired from doing regular stories because my primary duties lie elsewhere, and I don’t have the time or mental energy for it. But I agreed to do it for a couple of reasons, one of which goes back more than 40 years. The former proprietor of The Famous North End Tavern told me about a wedding that was to take place at the Lions Center for Rehabilitation and Extended Care, where his wife works.
No Bambi for you, Mrs. Doe
Some people want so badly for deer birth control to work that they actually think it will, even on wild populations.
I wish I had a couple bridges to sell.
A week ago on the Outdoors page we ran the deer there do what deer everywhere do. They eat the easiest food available such as gardens and ornamental plantings. They walk in front of moving cars. They give ticks and parasites a place to live.
We’re certain that Donald Rumsfeld, who served as Secretary of Defense under Presidents Gerald Ford and George W. Bush, echoes what many Americans feel about the complexity of filing income tax returns.
When he filed his return, Rumsfeld sent the following letter to the Internal Revenue Service:
Public libraries remain one of the best uses of taxpayer dollars. They are open to all. Young or old, poor or wealthy, residents can use computers and read current magazines and newspapers. Compact discs featuring a wide variety of music and
movies on DVD may be checked out in addition to novels and other books.
Terps need to move and move quickly
The good news is Maryland will never have to play another basketball game in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Goodbye, good riddance, sayonara, smell ya, no more of you, stay classy, we won’t let the door hit us on the way out.
Until we see you in court.
Legislation that increases hunting oppportunities on Sundays in Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties has passed the Maryland General Assembly and reached the governor’s desk.
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