Books  Physical Sciences  Cosmology & Astronomy 

Unfolding Our Universe

Out of Print

By: Iain Nicolson (Author), Mark McLellan (Illustrator)

304 pages, 120 colour plates, 108 b/w illustrations

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | Jan 2000 | #108547 | ISBN: 0521592704
Out of Print Details

About this book

Unfolding Our Universe is a comprehensive and accessible introduction to astronomy. With a clear, crisp text and beautiful colour illustrations, it takes readers to the heart of the Universe – explaining the facts, concepts, methods and frontiers of astronomical science. Unfolding Our Universe can be read right through without referring to any mathematics. For the more ambitious reader, key points are developed in more detail and basic mathematics provided in self-contained boxes. A unique feature of Unfolding Our Universe is the careful balance it strikes between the basics of the subject and its frontiers. Step by step, it carefully assembles a complete understanding of astronomy. Full colour throughout and a very readable text make Unfolding Our Universe a delight for the casual reader to browse, while the clear and concise explanations will appeal to amateur astronomers, science teachers and college and university students seeking a no-nonsense introduction to astronomy.

"[...] this new book, by Iain Nicolson, is in every way outstanding. It is written with immense skill, with excellent illustrations, and it is very well produced; the publishers have clearly taken the greatest care [...] Perhaps the strongest point about the book is that it will appeal to readers of all kinds. The beginner will have no difficulty in following it through, and the serious student will find it very useful indeed because it is so comprehensive and well-ordered [...] It is undoubtedly the best book of its kind to have appeared for many years [...] Author, artists and publishers should be congratulated upon producing a book which should be ready by everyone who has an interest in astronomy."
- Patrick Moore, Journal of the British Astronomical Association

"Bang up-to-date, well illustrated and authoratitive, this book is an excellent introduction to modern astronomy and astrophysics. Its clear informal style gives the reader a quantatitive understanding of our Universe without resorting to unnecessary mathematics."
- Dr Graham Woan, University of Glasgow

"In a world that seems to be drowning in books on astronomy, this one stands out like an island of clarity. It is well-written colourfully-illustrated and remarkably up-to-date."
- Professor Paul Hodge, University of Washington, Seattle

"Iain Nicolson has written a wonderfully authoritative and accessible introduction to modern astronomy. It is right up-to-date and can be thoroughly recommended to absolute beginners of all ages and to those who need a refresher course in what has been happening in astronomy over recent years."
- Professor Malcolm Longair, University of Cambridge

"This is a beautifully illustrated and clearly written book, which makes a comprehensive, reliable and stimulating to guide to the Universe as we currently understand it. The book should be an essential purchase for the general reader who seeks an up-to-date and authoritative introduction to modern astronomy. It will also be an excellent choice as a course book on astronomy for non-science students."
- Professor D. A. Williams, University College London

"Unfolding Our Universe is an attractive, full-colour, beautifully illustrated, concise, and well-written introduction to the amazing developments occurring in modern research astronomy. Anyone intrigued by astronomy, from amateur astronomers to high school and college students, will find this outstanding book both appealing and informative."
- Professor David Theison, University of Maryland, College Park

"Probably the most concise of the astronomy books you might ask a non-science student to read, Unfolding does an excellent job of introducing the vocabulary and ideas that will enable the reader to ask for more information and be taken seriously."
- Professor Virginia Trimble, University of California, Irvine

"[...] an attractive and neatly organized look at the new astronomy [...] an abundance of wonderful photos, sidebars and useful illustrations and charts and useful illustrations and charts to excite the imagination of a serious student of the skies."
- Denver Rocky Mountain News

"Nicolson's Unfolding Our Universe covers the entire field of current astronomical knowledge for our own Earth to the farthest galaxies. His book is an excellent guide for a student or anyone who has ever looked into the night sky with awe and wonder. There are plenty of photographs, diagrams, charts and tables to help illustrate Nicolson's clean, clear no-nonsense prose. 'Astronomy is the science of the universe', he writes 'This book aims to provide a step-by-step guide to the science of astronomy that strikes a balance between the basics of the subject and its frontiers'. He does that, admirably.' Naples News 'Award-winning author Nicholson provides clear, concise explanations for a comprehensive set of topics covering many facets of modern astronomy [...] The excellent photographs and numerous color drawings greatly enhance the explanations of concepts that are often difficult to visualize [...] a lovely book with well-laid out pages and high printing quality."
- Choice

"This book is really very topical, and wide-ranging in its coverage, from the sky at night throughout the year, to a summary of most of the modern theories of the birth, life and death of the Universe, even mentioning the 'Theory of Everything'. The illustrations are very good, and as up-to-date as could be expected from a big glossy publication."
- Alan Pickwick, Gnomon

"A great deal of careful planning and page arrangement must have gone into the production of this excellent book."
- A. D. Andrews, Irish Astronomical Journal

"Unfolding Our Universe presents a thoroughly readable account of the cosmos from the Earth to the outer reaches of the Universe. He has a splendidly clear, lucid style of writing which integrates the fundamental physics painlessly. This is a book for the school library, for background reading for introductory astronomy courses at university, and for anyone – young or old – who wants to learn in a serious way why 21st-century astronomy is so exciting."
- Derek McNally, The Observatory

"[...] with a clear, crisp text and beautiful color illustrations, it takes readers to the heart of the Universe [...] The wealth of color illustrations and very readable text make this book a delight for the casual reader [...]"
- Europe and Astronomy

"The only difficulty with this book is that a reader could well find himself or herself drawn inexorably into further exploration of the subject."
- Doreen Smith, OUGS Journal

"What kept impressing me whole reading the text was just how up to date the information was. news of recent discoveries and theories which only seem to have been published yesterday in the astronomical literature were well integrated into the text. From this aspect the work is right up to date [...] The illustrations and photographs are excellent [...] I will dip into my copy time and time again and use it as a reference source for many astronomical facts."
- Tolm Boles, The Webb Society Deep Sky Observer



1. Overview of the universe
2. Observing the universe
3. The moving sky
4. Orbits and gravity
5. The earth-moon system
6. Worlds beyond - the planets
7. Wandering fragments: minor members of the solar system
8. The sun - our neighborhood star
9. Stars - basic properties
10. Nebulae and the birth of stars and planets
11. Stellar life cycles
12. Collapsing, exploding and interacting stars
13. The Milky Way and other galaxies
14. Active Galaxies and Quasars
15. Cosmology: beginnings and endings
16. Wider issues

1. Units of measurement and physical constants
2. Solar system data
3. The brightest and nearest stars

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