front cover of Nearest Star
Nearest Star
The Surprising Science of Our Sun
Leon Golub and Jay M. Pasachoff
Harvard University Press, 2001

Unlike the myriad points of light we gaze at in the night sky, our nearest star allows us to study the wonders of stellar workings at blindingly close range--from a mere 93 million miles away. And what do we see? In this book, two of the world's leading solar scientists unfold all that history and science--from the first cursory observations to the measurements obtained by the latest state-of-the-art instruments on the ground and in space--have revealed about the Sun. Following the path of science from the very center of this 380,000,000,000,000,000,000-megawatt furnace to its explosive surface, Nearest Star invites readers into an open-ended narrative of discovery about what we know about the Sun and how we have learned it.

How did the Sun evolve, and what will it become? What is the origin of its light and heat? How does solar activity affect the atmospheric conditions that make life on earth possible? These are the questions at the heart of solar physics, and at the center of this book. Having made optical solar observations with many solar telescopes and in the rockets and satellites, the authors bring their extensive personal experience to this story of how astronomers study the Sun, and what they have discovered about phenomena from eclipses to neutrinos, space weather, and global warming. Richly illustrated with an assortment of pictures from the latest solar missions and the newest telescopes, this book is a very readable, up-to-date account of science's encounter with our nearest star.


front cover of Neptune and Triton
Neptune and Triton
Edited by D. P. Cruikshank
University of Arizona Press, 1995
The first reconnaissance of all the major planets of the Solar System culminated in the Voyager 2 encounter with Neptune in August 1989. Neptune itself was revealed as a planet with gigantic active storms in its atmosphere, and off-center magnetic field, and a system of tenuous, lumpy rings. Whereas only two satellites were known prior to the encounter, Voyager discovered six more. Triton, the largest satellite, was revealed as a frozen, icy world with clouds and layers of haze, and with vertical plumes of particles reaching five miles into the thin atmosphere.

This latest Space Science Series volume presents the current level of understanding of Neptune, its rings, and its satellites, derived from the data received from the Voyager. The book's chapters are written by the world's leading authorities on various aspects of the Neptune system and are based on papers presented at an international conference held in January 1992. Covering details of Neptune's interior, atmosphere, rings, magnetic fields, and near-space environment—as well as the small satellites and the remarkable moon Triton—this volume is a unique resource for planetary scientists and astronomers requiring a comprehensive analysis of Neptune viewed in the context of our knowledge of the other giant planets. Until another spacecraft is sent to Neptune, Neptune and Triton will stand as the basic reference on the planet.

front cover of Neutron Stars
Neutron Stars
The Quest to Understand the Zombies of the Cosmos
Katia Moskvitch
Harvard University Press, 2020

The astonishing science of neutron stars and the stories of the scientists who study them.

Neutron stars are as bewildering as they are elusive. The remnants of exploded stellar giants, they are tiny, merely twenty kilometers across, and incredibly dense. One teaspoon of a neutron star would weigh several million tons. They can spin up to a thousand times per second, they possess the strongest magnetic fields known in nature, and they may be the source of the most powerful explosions in the universe. Through vivid storytelling and on-site reporting from observatories all over the world, Neutron Stars offers an engaging account of these still-mysterious objects.

Award-winning science journalist Katia Moskvitch takes readers from the vast Atacama Desert to the arid plains of South Africa to visit the magnificent radio telescopes and brilliant scientists responsible for our knowledge of neutron stars. She recounts the exhilarating discoveries, frustrating disappointments, and heated controversies of the past several decades and explains cutting-edge research into such phenomena as colliding neutron stars and fast radio bursts: extremely powerful but ultra-short flashes in space that scientists are still struggling to understand. She also shows how neutron stars have advanced our broader understanding of the universe—shedding light on topics such as dark matter, black holes, general relativity, and the origins of heavy elements like gold and platinum—and how we might one day use these cosmic beacons to guide interstellar travel.

With clarity and passion, Moskvitch describes what we are learning at the boundaries of astronomy, where stars have life beyond death.


front cover of News from Mars
News from Mars
Mass Media and the Forging of a New Astronomy, 1860-1910
Joshua Nall
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019

Mass media in the late nineteenth century was full of news from Mars. In the wake of Giovanni Schiaparelli’s 1877 discovery of enigmatic dark, straight lines on the red planet, astronomers and the public at large vigorously debated the possibility that it might be inhabited. As rivalling scientific practitioners looked to marshal allies and sway public opinion—through newspapers, periodicals, popular books, exhibitions, and encyclopaedias—they exposed disagreements over how the discipline of astronomy should be organized and how it should establish acceptable conventions of discourse.

News from Mars provides a new account of this extraordinary episode in the history of astronomy, revealing how major transformations in astronomical practice across Britain and America were inextricably tied up with popular scientific culture and a transatlantic news economy that enabled knowledge to travel. As Joshua Nall argues, astronomers were journalists, too, eliding practice with communication in consequential ways. As writers and editors, they played a pivotal role in the emergence of a “new astronomy” dedicated to the study of the physical constitution and life history of celestial objects, blurring harsh distinctions between those who produced esoteric knowledge and those who disseminated it. 


front cover of Novelties in the Heavens
Novelties in the Heavens
Rhetoric and Science in the Copernican Controversy
Jean Dietz Moss
University of Chicago Press, 1993
In this fascinating work, Jean Dietz Moss shows how the scientific revolution begun by Copernicus brought about another revolution as well—one in which rhetoric, previously used simply to explain scientific thought, became a tool for persuading a skeptical public of the superiority of the Copernican system.

Moss describes the nature of dialectical and rhetorical discourse in the period of the Copernican debate to shed new light on the argumentative strategies used by the participants. Against the background of Ptolemy's Almagest, she analyzes the gradual increase of rhetoric beginning with Copernicus's De Revolutionibus and Galileo's Siderius nuncius, through Galileo's debates with the Jesuits Scheiner and Grassi, to the most persuasive work of all, Galileo's Dialogue. The arguments of the Dominicans Bruno and Campanella, the testimony of Johannes Kepler, and the pleas of Scriptural exegetes and the speculations of John Wilkins furnish a counterpoint to the writings of Galileo, the centerpiece of this study.

The author places the controversy within its historical frame, creating a coherent narrative movement. She illuminates the reactions of key ecclesiastical and academic figures figures and the general public to the issues.

Blending history and rhetorical analysis, this first study to look at rhetoric as defined by sixteenth- and seventeenth-century participants is an original contribution to our understanding of the use of persuasion as an instrument of scientific debate.

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