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When we look into the night sky, thousands of stars twinkle back at us. We see cool red stars, hot blue stars, big stars and small stars. We find young stars and old stars, single stars and doubles. Some are astonishingly bright, while others hardly shine at all. Consider some examples from this book:
- Rapid rotators like the Black Widow, which spins 640 times per second, and speedsters like Barnard's Star, which clips along at 90 kilometers per second.
- Dazzling stars like Canopus, which shines 14,800 times more brightly than the Sun, and black holes like Cygnus X-1, with gravity so strong that no light at all escapes it.
- White dwarfs like EG 129, which has a magnetic field over a billion times stronger than Earth's.
- Young stars like T Tauri, just forming and accreting mass, and older stars like Eta Carinae that have exploded and are ejecting mass back into the Universe.
- Tiny neutron stars like Geminga, just 30 kilometers across, and enormous stars like VV Cephei, which is nearly as large as the entire orbit of Saturn.
The variety is astounding, even a bit overwhelming. How can the nascent stargazer begin to understand all the cosmos has to offer? In The Hundred Greatest Stars, James B. Kaler paints intimate portraits of the 100 stars he likes best. With an infectious enthusiasm, Kaler tells us about his favorites and, in the process, shows us how each star fits into the development and evolution of the cosmos.
About the Author
James B. Kaler is Professor of Astronomy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has held both Fulbright and Guggenheim Fellowships, and has been awarded medals for his work from the University of Liège, Belgium, and the University of Mexico. Kaler is the author of dozens of articles and ten books, including The Little Book of Stars (Copernicus Books) and Extreme Stars: At the Edge of Creation (Cambridge University Press). He also directs and maintains several educational websites, including the highly regarded and award-winning "Stars of the Week" site at the University of Illinois:
Introduction and Allegro
0 The Sun
1 Acrux . . . 100 ZZ Ceti