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Sirius: Brightest Diamond in the Night Sky

Popular Science

Series: Springer Praxis Books: Popular Astronomy

By: Jay B Holberg

250 pages, 5 col illus, 45 b/w illus

Praxis Publishing

Paperback | Mar 2007 | #164028 | ISBN-13: 9780387489414
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1 week Details
NHBS Price: £24.99 $32/€28 approx

About this book

Of all the fixed stars in the night sky, Sirius is by far the brightest - almost twice as bright as its nearest rival, the star Canopus, which lies too far south to be viewed from most of the Northern Hemisphere. Only the Sun, Moon and the planets Venus, Jupiter and, at times, Mars, appear brighter. Sirius, with its flashing brilliance, is a striking feature of the northern winter sky and has understandably drawn the attention of observers of the night sky for thousands of years.

Sirius has many names. Astronomers recognize over fifty designations for the star, but the most commonly used is Alpha Canis Majoris, the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major. This is Latin for the 'Great Dog', which has led to its popular nickname the `Dog Star'. Over the centuries many beliefs have come to be associated with Sirius. Some of these beliefs still echo in such phrases as `the dog days of summer', which the ancient Romans understood well. Other old beliefs long ago fell from public consciousness - only to be revived and to grow into modern popular and scientific controversies. Although these beliefs may seem quite recent, many have their origins in the ancient lore surrounding Sirius; humans seem naturally drawn to its brilliance, and a surprising number of modern cults have nucleated around beliefs in which Sirius plays a prominent role.

Aus den Rezensionen: "! Wie sehr das Siriussystem die Forscher noch heute in Atem halt, wird an vielen Stellen des Buchs deutlich. ! Holberg zeigt auch, wie eng wissenschaftshistorische Forschungen mit astrophysikalischen Fragestellungen verbunden sind. ! Eine Starke des dreizehn Kapitel umfassenden Buchs liegt also darin, zu zeigen, wie vielschichtig die Thematik historisch wie auch astrophysikalisch ist ! Ein elf Seiten langer Anhang mit Hinweisen auf Originalarbeiten soll dem interessierten Leser dabei helfen, seine Beschaftigung mit den ihn interessierenden Aspekten zu vertiefen !" (MARTIN J. NEUMANN, in: Sterne und Weltraum, 2006, Vol. 46, Issue 9, S. 106)


Goddess of the Eastern Horizon.- The Dog Star.- From Myth to Reality.- A Dark Star Prophesied.- A Dark Star Revealed.- An Odd Pair.- Giants Among the Dwarfs.- A Matter of Degeneracy.- Einstein's Well.- Red Sirius.- Modern Mysteries.- A View from Space.- Past, Present and Future.- Appendices.

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The author, Jay Holberg, is well known, both as an historian and as an astrophysicist, and in telling the story of Sirius he is able to integrate the history of the star with modern astrophysics in a way which provides a realistic view of how science progresses over time.

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