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Space Atlas: Mapping the Universe and Beyond

Popular Science

By: James S Trefil (Author), Buzz Aldrin (Foreword By)

336 pages, colour photos, colour illustrations

National Geographic Society

Hardback | Dec 2012 | #201173 | ISBN-13: 9781426209710
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NHBS Price: £39.99 $49/€45 approx

About this book

National Geographic presents a new one-stop guide to the planets, stars and outer reaches of the universe in the new book Space Atlas: Mapping the Universe and Beyond by James Trefil and with a foreword by astronaut Buzz Aldrin. By combining the unparalleled cartographic power of National Geographic and the breathtaking imagery from the Hubble telescope and other space probes, Space Atlas: Mapping the Universe and Beyond maps the final frontier with detail and splendor in the most up-to-date atlas of its kind.

Space Atlas: Mapping the Universe and Beyond uses clear, nontechnical text that explains the nature of planets, stars, galaxies and exotic objects such as black holes alongside photos and art that illustrate the strange beauty of outer space. In addition to the latest imagery coming from space telescopes and diagrams explaining key astronomical concepts, Space Atlas: Mapping the Universe and Beyond also includes more than 90 pages of detailed maps, many of them brand new and specially created for this book.

The galactic getaway starts close to home within the first domain, our own solar system. This section meticulously maps out the surfaces of the planets and major moons – from the sun-scorched face of Mercury to the Kuiper Belt beyond Pluto – using the most up-to-date information from NASA and other key sources. Many of the features shown on these maps – mountains, craters, poles, plains and landing sites of vehicles from Earth – have never been mapped in an atlas before.

Fact boxes provide details on each planet's discoverer, discovery date, mass, volume, radius, surface temperature, length of day and year and number of moons. Readers will also learn about the birth of the solar system and will explore the Oort Cloud and planet-size worlds discovered beyond Pluto that have helped astronomers begin to see the inner planets as just a small part of the entire system. It was this new understanding that led to Pluto's well-publicized "demotion."

The second section of Space Atlas: Mapping the Universe and Beyond is devoted to the Milky Way and explores the stars and structures that make up our galaxy. Detailed information is provided on the sun, exoplanets, supernovae, neutron stars and pulsars, black holes, dark matter and SETI (the Search for Artificial Intelligence).

The third section delves into the large-scale structure of the universe, of which the galaxies are building blocks. It explores the big issues of cosmology: the structure of the universe, how it began and how it will end. An epilogue, "Mysteries," explores some of the hottest topics in modern physics – string theory and the possibility of a multiverse – as it leaves the realm of hard data and enters the speculative world of the theoretical physicist.

In his foreword, Aldrin writes, "This National Geographic Space Atlas: Mapping the Universe and Beyond has special meaning for me. It is an enduring honor to have been one of the few humans to have stood on the moon [...] The moon to me is not a distant object in space but a real place where I spent time, and a real landscape that I remember in my mind's eye. Looking at the maps of Earth's moon on these pages is for me a little like retracing a vacation on the map that was carried along. [...] A book like this is so exciting because it refines our sense of the frontiers of space by taking the surge of information coming to us from space explorations and translating all of that new data into graceful text, remarkable imagery, and elegant maps."

Just as this volume brings Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's journey to the moon back into focus, Space Atlas: Mapping the Universe and Beyond will give readers a clearer vision of distant worlds and the outer limits of space.

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James Trefil is a physicist and author of more than 30 books, including The Laws of Nature and Other Worlds: The Solar System and Beyond. He is co-author of an influential textbook, Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy, and was a contributor to National Geographic’s Encyclopedia of Space. He is the Robinson Professor of Physics at George Mason University and regularly gives presentations to judges and public officials on the intersection of science and law.

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