Heaven's Touch: From Killer Stars to the Seeds of Life, How We Are Connected to the Universe

Overview

"Jim Kaler, who has passionately and expertly described the stars and their vagaries, now brings the whole Universe—from the tides through hypernovae and gamma-ray bursts—to general readers. His writing is not only clear and straightforward but also correct and up to date, addressing both standard topics and the latest astronomical goodies."—Jay M. Pasachoff, Williams College

"Heaven's Touch examines the physical effects of gravity, radiation, solar storms, asteroid and comet ...

See more details below
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (32) from $1.99   
  • New (14) from $3.21   
  • Used (18) from $1.99   
Sending request ...

Overview

"Jim Kaler, who has passionately and expertly described the stars and their vagaries, now brings the whole Universe—from the tides through hypernovae and gamma-ray bursts—to general readers. His writing is not only clear and straightforward but also correct and up to date, addressing both standard topics and the latest astronomical goodies."—Jay M. Pasachoff, Williams College

"Heaven's Touch examines the physical effects of gravity, radiation, solar storms, asteroid and comet impacts, cosmic rays, supernovae, and gamma-ray bursts on our home planet. Its conclusions are significant: our planet does not exist in isolation but rather is part of a complex planetary, stellar, and galactic system whose influences are profound. I found myself propelled along in the reading."—J. Michael Shull, University of Colorado at Boulder

"Heaven's Touch presents the diverse ways that astronomical objects affect the Earth and humans, beyond their visual appearance in the sky. Kaler is a senior astronomer with an excellent reputation as a researcher, educator, and author. There is a lot of good material here that has not featured in very many popular astronomy books."—Chris Impey, author of The Living Cosmos

"Heaven's Touch contains much of interest that should be informative and engaging to readers."—Donald Brownlee, coauthor of Rare Earth

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

FAS Newsletter
Written in a style which reduces complex processes into manageable bites, yet containing numerous facts and figures, this book works well as good read and will also perform as a reference book, allowing the reader to dip in and out if a short explanation of a particular event is required. Overall this is a well written, eye opening account of how we are affected by Heaven's Touch.
— Phil Brotherwood
Newsletter of IAU Commission 46 on Education and Development
Among the many things I like about Heaven's Touch is that, as scary as some of the cosmic scenarios Kaler depicts may seem, the book's goals . . . are to inspire and inform rather than intimidate. . . . I applaud Kaler's achievement and recommend his book to teachers of astronomy and to their students.
— Naomi Pasachoff
Planetarian
Read this book. You will find yourself listening and capturing information from the mind of someone who treats science as more of an ethereal topic; not as a bunch of formulas, but as a thing of beauty. Anyone can read Heaven's Touch, from the hardcore scientist to the newly-introduced amateur, and come out with a better understanding of the subject.
— Francine Jackson
Times Higher Education - Simon Mitton
James Kaler has crafted an outstanding short introduction to astronomy and cosmology by adopting a point of view that I have not seen before in a popular account of the cosmos. . . . Heaven's Touch is a passionate account both of humanity's tangible contact with the Universe at large and the profound influence of the Universe on life on Earth.
Planetarian - Francine Jackson
Read this book. You will find yourself listening and capturing information from the mind of someone who treats science as more of an ethereal topic; not as a bunch of formulas, but as a thing of beauty. Anyone can read Heaven's Touch, from the hardcore scientist to the newly-introduced amateur, and come out with a better understanding of the subject.
FAS Newsletter - Phil Brotherwood
Written in a style which reduces complex processes into manageable bites, yet containing numerous facts and figures, this book works well as good read and will also perform as a reference book, allowing the reader to dip in and out if a short explanation of a particular event is required. Overall this is a well written, eye opening account of how we are affected by Heaven's Touch.
Newsletter of IAU Commission 46 on Education and Development - Naomi Pasachoff
Among the many things I like about Heaven's Touch is that, as scary as some of the cosmic scenarios Kaler depicts may seem, the book's goals . . . are to inspire and inform rather than intimidate. . . . I applaud Kaler's achievement and recommend his book to teachers of astronomy and to their students.
From the Publisher
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2010

"Kaler's writing is enthusiastic, and he conveys his own wonder and excitement at the myriad mysteries of the universe. His description of the effect of the sun and moon on the tides is thorough, as are his explanations of the source of the sun's energy and how an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter was discovered."—
Publisher's Weekly

"James Kaler has crafted an outstanding short introduction to astronomy and cosmology by adopting a point of view that I have not seen before in a popular account of the cosmos. . . . Heaven's Touch is a passionate account both of humanity's tangible contact with the Universe at large and the profound influence of the Universe on life on Earth."—Simon Mitton, Times Higher Education

"With the avuncular Professor as our guide, we are taken on a whirlwind tour of the Universe as we know and understand it and how, possibly, we came to be and very nearly not to be. He has a pleasingly straightforward style and, wherever possible, tries to steer clear of complex scientific jargon. . . . Professor Kaler has attempted to enliven what could be a complicated and uninteresting topic, and through linking everything together via his well explained engaging text, he has admirably succeeded."—
Astronomy Now

"This very readable book presents the many and various ways Earth and life here are connected to and affected by the universe, on scales ranging from local (within Earth's solar system) to cosmic (back to the big bang). Kaler, an experienced astronomy educator and researcher, provides a fascinating account of how human existence is due to events that happened long, long ago and far, far away. . . . For professional astronomers tempted to write a popular yet accurate account of their pet interest, this book is a lesson in how to do it superbly."—
Choice

"Read this book. You will find yourself listening and capturing information from the mind of someone who treats science as more of an ethereal topic; not as a bunch of formulas, but as a thing of beauty. Anyone can read Heaven's Touch, from the hardcore scientist to the newly-introduced amateur, and come out with a better understanding of the subject."—Francine Jackson, Planetarian

"Heaven's Touch is a stimulating, clarifying work of popular astronomy and cosmology."—
Maui News

"Written in a style which reduces complex processes into manageable bites, yet containing numerous facts and figures, this book works well as good read and will also perform as a reference book, allowing the reader to dip in and out if a short explanation of a particular event is required. Overall this is a well written, eye opening account of how we are affected by Heaven's Touch."—Phil Brotherwood, FAS Newsletter

"Among the many things I like about Heaven's Touch is that, as scary as some of the cosmic scenarios Kaler depicts may seem, the book's goals . . . are to inspire and inform rather than intimidate. . . . I applaud Kaler's achievement and recommend his book to teachers of astronomy and to their students."—Naomi Pasachoff, Newsletter of IAU Commission 46 on Education and Development

Times Higher Education
James Kaler has crafted an outstanding short introduction to astronomy and cosmology by adopting a point of view that I have not seen before in a popular account of the cosmos. . . . Heaven's Touch is a passionate account both of humanity's tangible contact with the Universe at large and the profound influence of the Universe on life on Earth.
— Simon Mitton
Astronomy Now
With the avuncular Professor as our guide, we are taken on a whirlwind tour of the Universe as we know and understand it and how, possibly, we came to be and very nearly not to be. He has a pleasingly straightforward style and, wherever possible, tries to steer clear of complex scientific jargon. . . . Professor Kaler has attempted to enliven what could be a complicated and uninteresting topic, and through linking everything together via his well explained engaging text, he has admirably succeeded.
Choice
This very readable book presents the many and various ways Earth and life here are connected to and affected by the universe, on scales ranging from local (within Earth's solar system) to cosmic (back to the big bang). Kaler, an experienced astronomy educator and researcher, provides a fascinating account of how human existence is due to events that happened long, long ago and far, far away. . . . For professional astronomers tempted to write a popular yet accurate account of their pet interest, this book is a lesson in how to do it superbly.
Maui News
Heaven's Touch is a stimulating, clarifying work of popular astronomy and cosmology.
Times Higher Education
James Kaler has crafted an outstanding short introduction to astronomy and cosmology by adopting a point of view that I have not seen before in a popular account of the cosmos. . . . Heaven's Touch is a passionate account both of humanity's tangible contact with the Universe at large and the profound influence of the Universe on life on Earth.
— Simon Mitton
Maui News
Heaven's Touch is a stimulating, clarifying work of popular astronomy and cosmology.
FAS Newsletter
Written in a style which reduces complex processes into manageable bites, yet containing numerous facts and figures, this book works well as good read and will also perform as a reference book, allowing the reader to dip in and out if a short explanation of a particular event is required. Overall this is a well written, eye opening account of how we are affected by Heaven's Touch.
— Phil Brotherwood
Newsletter of IAU Commission 46 on Education and Development
Among the many things I like about Heaven's Touch is that, as scary as some of the cosmic scenarios Kaler depicts may seem, the book's goals . . . are to inspire and inform rather than intimidate. . . . I applaud Kaler's achievement and recommend his book to teachers of astronomy and to their students.
— Naomi Pasachoff
Publishers Weekly
Kaler, an emeritus professor of astronomy at the University of Illinois (The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Stars), examines a variety of celestial bodies from the perspective of their interactions with Earth. Kaler's writing is enthusiastic, and he conveys his own wonder and excitement at the myriad mysteries of the universe. His description of the effect of the sun and moon on the tides is thorough, as are his explanations of the source of the sun's energy and how an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter was discovered. But Kaler's book is not for beginners: as he progresses through cosmic rays, comets, supernovas and even more spectacular massive star collapses that create hypernovae, his detailed style demands close attention (opaque sentences abound), a familiarity with sometimes difficult mathematical concepts and general familiarity with astronomy. Kaler offers a great deal of information, and his thematic approach—considering the interaction of the universe and our lives—is sound, but even readers with a sophisticated background in mathematics and science will be challenged by this book. (Sept.)
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691129464
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 7/20/2009
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


James B. Kaler is professor emeritus of astronomy at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His many books include "The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Stars" and "The Hundred Greatest Stars".
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments xi

Chapter 1: Reaching Out 1
Stars 2
Planets 4
Light 5
The Milky Way 8
Galaxies 11
The Universe 12
Darkness 14
Heaven's Touch 17

Chapter 2: Tides of Life 21
(1) Gravity 22
(2) Phases 25
Tidal Stretching 27
Tidal Lag 29
Tidal Clock 30
Now Add the Sun . . . 31
. . . And Elliptical Orbits 32
"Time and Tide . . ." 34
How High the Moon 37
It's Mutual 39

Chapter 3: Solar Storm 42
Neutrinos Going to Get You
(Even If You Do Watch Out) 44
(1) Oatmeal 48
(2) Spin 51
Magnetism 51
Windy Crown 52
eturn to Earth . . . 56
. . . And Get Hit 57
Vanishing Act, Part I 60
Solar Cycle 61
Effects 62
Vanishing Act, Part II 64
Vibes 65

Chapter 4: Frozen Earth 67
Seasons 68
Wobbles 72
Planets 75
In Motion 77
The Celestial Mechanic 79
Planets Perturbed 81
God of the Sea 82
Changing Earth 85
Message from Mercury 86
Tip and Bend 87
Mister Milankovitch 90

Chapter 5: The Accidental
Asteroid 93
Numerology 94
Origins 96
Child on a Swing 100
Resonating Asteroids 102
Kick on Goal 103
A Shocking Story 104
Heaven's Rocks 107
Interpretation 108
A Steady Rain 110
And Then the Hailstorm 111
Wipeout 113
And Now? 116
Pitch and Catch 117

Chapter 6: Crashing Comets 120
Tale of the Chainsaw 120
A Tale of Two Tails 121
A Scary Tail Tale 123
Structure 125
Getting Back (Twice) 127
Breaking Up (Is Not
That Hard to Do) 128
"Passing Showers" 130
Twilight of the Dust 132
Pathways 133
Kuiper 134
So What's Pluto? 135
O ort 137
There and Back 137
Collision 139
Strikes and More Showers 141
Water 143
Spacefarers 144

Chapter 7: Atomic Rain 145
Radiation 145
Stumbling in the Dark 146
"Energy, People, Energy!" 149
Kinds 150
Composition 152
Long-Lost Origins 152
Star Lives 154
Boom 158
That Pesky High End 162
(1, 2) Star Formation 163
(3) Laundry 165
(4) From Lost Times 166 But 168
(5) Donner and Blitzen 169
(6) Bound for Space 171

Chapter 8: Super Star 173
Yesteryear 174
1054, 1572, 1885, and A' That 178
I and II 180
Chandra's Limit 181
March of the Supernovae 185
Closer Yet? 187
A Bad Tan and Other Disasters 189
Penguins, Soybeans, and Ants 192
Catch a Falling Neutrino 194
Shocks and Fields 195

Chapter 9: Hyperstars 199
In the Navy 199
Identification 202
Long Bursts 204
Hypernovae 205
Sliding into the Pit 207
Into a Black Hole 209
And What Does All
This Mean? 212
And in the Future? 213
Afterglow 216
Safety Zone 218
Quick Time 218
Magnetar: The Future Is Here 219

Chapter 10: Coming Home 223
In the Beginning 223
Ancient Stars and Forming Galaxies 225
At the Table 228
Neutrons 232
Rapid Capture 234
A Story from Other Worlds 236
Heaven's Touch 238
Index 241

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)