450 pages, 253 figs, 15 tabs
Starts with the astronomical ideas of the Egyptian and Mesopotamian philosophers, moves on to the Greek period and then to the golden age of astronomy, that of Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler and Newton; concluding with modern theories of cosmology.
From the reviews: "The wide scope of this book is indicated by the cover photographs, showing Stonehenge and the Hubble Space Telescope. It deals with the astronomical ideas of the Egyptian and Mesopotamian observers, the Greek philosophers and the revolutionary concepts of such figures as Copernicus, Galileo and Newton. ! buy Understanding the Heavens, for there is much worthwhile material, presented in a logical and constructive way, in it." (Jeffrey Barham, Popular Astronomy, October -- December, 2002) "This ! volume, written by a well-known French astronomer, covers almost three millennia of the evolution of the understanding by curious minds of what, until recently, was called the 'World' but that we now call the 'Universe'. ! this is not a book about the history of those ideas but about the concepts lying behind the model universes ! . much can be learned from this work ! ." (F. Binon, Physicalia, Vol. 38 (2), 2002) "The task Jean-Claude Pecker has set himself in this book is to recount the development of humankind's ideas about the cosmos from essentially the earliest recorded history up to the present day. The strongest part of the book deals with the fascinating struggle to make sense of the rather complicated observed motions of the celestial objects, especially planets ! . The copious illustrations are useful ! . this book ! contains much interesting and useful material." (J. G. Robertson, The Physicist, Vol. 38 (5), 2001) "This would be a useful book for someone who is actively involved in cosmological research today, but has only a vague idea of the history of the subject ! . It is based on a series of lectures given by the author in 1989, which go back to pre-Greek ideas about astronomy and up to inflation ! . the ideas are explained clearly ! . Understanding the Heavens is to be welcomed as a worthy and worthwhile addition to the library shelves ! ." (John Gribbin, The Observatory, Vol. 121 (1165), 2001)
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