There is no end to the beautiful images of the universe that are available on the internet. Phil Plait regularly graces us with his favorites with some explanation as to what they mean. But where do these images come from? Many (most?) come from the Hubble Space Telescope.
To learn a bit about the history of telescopes, Hubble and what Hubble has taught us about outer space, check out Space, Stars, and the Beginning of Time: What the Hubble Telescope Saw. Filled with some of Hubble’s most spectacular images, it teaches all about Hubble, giving you a background on the telescope itself and the astronomy behind it… er… in front of it.
The book starts out with the history of astronomy and telescopes including their effect on how we learn to think of our own solar system. Then it moves on to Hubble itself, telling its story and history, including what parts make it up, how it works and how it is used today. Plenty of time is spent describing the initial problems Hubble had, and what was done to repair it.
Telescopes are not just for studying individual stars, planets and galaxies. Being able to see so far away allows us to see into the past, since the light from those stars and galaxies has taken so long to get to us. The farther we can see, the closer to the origins of the universe we get. It’s also helped us study things like dark matter and black holes, and to witness the life cycle of a star. It has also more recently allowed us to identify several other planets.
Throughout the book, sidebars give plenty of science lessons in the context of astronomy, and more information on what you read in the main text. It also includes a comparison of the quality of Hubble’s images before and after its (in)famous repair.
The science in the book is sound and very factual, but the author keeps the writing lighthearted, including such things as a Recipe for a Planet, complete with ingredients and instructions. This helps open the audience to anyone with an interest in the universe, adults and children alike, though children may still need you along side them to make sense of a few things.
The Hubble telescope has helped us learn about the universe, and this book gives a great overview with plenty of memorable photos. That the book quotes from A Wrinkle in Time gives it extra bonus points in my opinion.
Space, Stars, and the Beginning of Time: What the Hubble Telescope Saw retails for $17.99. It’s a marvelous introduction to Hubble, telescopes and what astronomy can teach us about the universe.
Note: I received a copy of this book for review purposes.