Staff Pick

An award-winning science writer, Marcia Bartusiak has the knowledge and the enthusiasm to make even complex principles of quantum theory accessible and fascinating to non-scientists. In the thirty-three essays gathered as Dispatches from Planet 3 (Yale, $26), she gives us a thorough grounding in the history of astronomy, tracing its many revolutions from heliocentrism to the discoveries of double stars, supernovae, spiral galaxies, and the whole expanding universe. Each discussion traces the science as well as the impact of the ideas themselves, showing how our evolving understanding of physical phenomena affected our sense of our place in the universe—and in turn led to our next foray into the unknown. As she traces the evolution of cosmology, Bartusiak chronicles the major questions scientists asked and how they answered them, details the technological advances that made key discoveries possible, summarizes the debates surrounding revelations that were often as unsettling as they were thrilling, and profiles the key thinkers involved. Her account is especially valuable for introducing many women scientists-- Beatrice Tinsley, Vera Rubin, Margaret Burbidge, and Henrietta Swann Leavitt, whose work is probably familiar, but whose names are not.

Dispatches from Planet 3: Thirty-Two (Brief) Tales on the Solar System, the Milky Way, and Beyond Cover Image
ISBN: 9780300235746
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Yale University Press - September 18th, 2018

Staff Pick

The next two books focus on the artifacts of space exploration. In Apollo to the Moon (National Geographic, $35) Teasel Muir-Harmony, a curator at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, presents fifty objects that collectively map humanity’s journey to the Moon. Extended essays and many evocative images are dedicated to each artifact, chronicling their histories and importance to the Apollo missions, but it’s the selections themselves that make this volume so compelling. Some were inarguably essential to the project, like the command module for Apollo 11. Others, such as the jacket that belonged to a contractor who worked on the space program, take you by surprise and enlarge your sense of the scope of the Apollo project. Muir-Harmony makes clear that these objects were just as vital to the success of the missions any NASA computer. The ultimate joy of this book is that it captures the people and broader culture behind one of humanity's greatest achievements.

Apollo to the Moon: A History in 50 Objects Cover Image
ISBN: 9781426219931
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: National Geographic - October 30th, 2018

Staff Pick

Apollo VII-XVII (Te Neues, $65), put together by Floris Heyne, Joel Meter, Simon Phillipson, and Delano Steenmeijer, contains highly rendered photographs, some never before published, taken by Apollo astronauts.  Each chapter briefly summarizes one mission, but keeps the text to a minimum, letting the images tell the story—as they so brilliantly do. Given nearly a full page, the pictures make this a breathtaking visual experience. One moment you could be looking out the porthole of an actual Apollo spacecraft as it passes the Earth, and the next you’re on the lunar surface gazing at an astronaut in the distance. Each image exudes a quiet majesty and beauty that is simply awe-inspiring. Periodically the book also achieves a sort of climax with the inclusion of splash pages that highlight a single image across a double-page spread. These are particularly stunning. The book also includes a guide to the photographic equipment used during Apollo.

Apollo: VII - XVII Cover Image
ISBN: 9783961711321
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Te Neues Publishing Company - October 15th, 2018