Space Atlas: Mapping the Universe and Beyond

Overview

Filled with lavish illustrations, this book is a grand tour of the universe. Three ever widening domains are presented--the planets, the stars, and the large scale universe itself--each including the ones before it and extending outward.

The tour starts close to home within the first domain, our own solar system. There is a tremendous variety here, from the sun scorched rocks of Mercury to the icy vastness of the Kuiper Belt beyond Pluto. We see the sun and planets born from the...

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Overview

Filled with lavish illustrations, this book is a grand tour of the universe. Three ever widening domains are presented--the planets, the stars, and the large scale universe itself--each including the ones before it and extending outward.

The tour starts close to home within the first domain, our own solar system. There is a tremendous variety here, from the sun scorched rocks of Mercury to the icy vastness of the Kuiper Belt beyond Pluto. We see the sun and planets born from the collapse of an interstellar dust cloud whose atoms were themselves created in long dead stars. Since many of these planets have been visited by space probes or landers, we are able to benefit from the incredible technology of exploration developed by NASA and its counterparts in other countries.

The second domain is made up of the billions of stars in our own Milky Way galaxy. We walk in the steps of the American astronomer Edwin Hubble, who first established that the universe is made up of discrete galaxies, then go on to examine the fundamental constituents of those galaxies--the stars. We see stars not as eternal lights in the sky, but as objects born out of a desperate struggle between pressure and gravity. We trace the life cycle of our own sun, from its birth 4.5 billion years ago to its quiet end 6 billion years in the future. We see the galaxy not as a serene and placid place, but as a giant factory, where primordial material is taken up into stars, then returned to the galaxy enriched with the heavy elements necessary for life.

Finally, we move to the ultimate domain--the large scale structure of the universe itself in which galaxies are the building blocks. We discover the most amazing fact, that the solid stuff of stars and planets on which we have been concentrating up to this point make up only a few percent of the mass in the universe, with the rest being composed of two mysterious entities called, respectively, dark matter and dark energy. We descend into deep caverns to see scientists trying to detect dark matter as it sweeps by the Earth, and we talk to theorists trying to solve the riddle of dark energy. This quest brings us to the frontier of knowledge, the edge of the unknown.

To conclude, two ultimate questions remain: How did the universe begin? How will the universe end? We trace our theories back to the first fraction of a second of the life of the universe and listen to the speculations of cosmologists about how it might all have started.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A gorgeous, fact-filled must for reference sections."Library Journal starred review

“A joy to look at…For all those who ever dreamed of traveling to the stars, Space Atlas will surely keep those fantasies alive.” Seattle Post-Intelligencer 

“An atlas of such beauty is rare indeed.” –Science Books & Film

Library Journal
This is a stunningly beautiful and informative guide to the planets, stars, and beyond. Chapters on "The Solar System," "The Galaxy," "The Universe," and "Mysteries," accompanied by full-color photographs, computer graphics, and other illustrations, will entice readers to learn about what is beyond our world. Many topics are covered in a spread each, while some subjects—the birth of the solar system, for example—have several spreads devoted to them. Brief biographies credit and introduce scientists who made important discoveries—for example, one profile discusses Edwin Hubble, a scientist who transformed human understanding of the universe and who was also an outstanding athlete, choosing science over a career as a professional boxer. The finding aids and other extras in this guide make it highly user friendly. These include a table of facts about the planets with information about the planetary satellites alphabetically arranged under each planet heading; facts about notable deep-sky objects—the stars, star clusters, galaxies, nebulae, etc. found beyond our solar system; a list of map terms—e.g., corona (singular) coronae (plural) meaning an ovoid feature; and a general index that has the page numbers of illustrations and the biographies of pertinent scientists bolded. VERDICT A gorgeous, fact-filled must for reference sections.—Frances Eaton Millhouser, formerly at Chantilly Regional Library, VA
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—This stunningly beautiful and informative guide to the planets, stars, and beyond is illustrated in full color, providing photographs, art, and computer graphics that will draw readers into the mysteries and vastness of space. Brief biographies credit and introduce scientists who made important discoveries. The book explains, for example, that Edwin Hubble, one of the scientists who transformed our understanding of the universe, was also an outstanding athlete who chose science over a career as a professional boxer. The finding aids in this guide to the solar system, galaxy, and the universe make it highly user friendly. Appended are a table of facts about the planets, in which information about each planet's satellites is alphabetically arranged under each planet heading; a list of notable deep-sky objects-the stars, star clusters, galaxies, nebulae, etc., found beyond our solar system; and a glossary and a list of map terms. The general index uses bold type for the page numbers of illustrations and the biographies of pertinent scientists, and it is followed by a lengthy place-name index. A gorgeous, fact-filled must for reference sections that need up-to-date astronomy information.—Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426209710
  • Publisher: National Geographic Society
  • Publication date: 11/6/2012
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 266,110
  • Product dimensions: 9.52 (w) x 12.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

JAMES TREFIL is a physicist and author of more than 30 books, including The Laws of Nature and Other Worlds: The Solar System and Beyond. He is co-author of an influential textbook, Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy, and was a contributor to National Geographic's Encyclopedia of Space. A former physics professor at University of Virginia, he now teaches physics at George Mason University, and regularly gives presentations to judges and public officials on the intersection of science and law. The author lives in Washington, D.C..
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Read an Excerpt

Year by year, generation by generation, the way we look at our universe continues to evolve, thanks both to new technologies and new ways of thinking, spurred on by our ability to view stars and galaxies that are distant in space and time. We are sharing new ways of seeing as well, as space telescopes and interplanetary probes transmit information across millions of miles, information that we capture and transform into remarkable visual displays. From that information, ever new maps can be created— maps such as you have never seen before; maps like the ones in this beautiful volume.
 
This National Geographic Space Atlas has special meaning for me. It is an enduring honor to have been one of the few humans to have stood on the moon. Just 12 years after the launch of the Soviet Union’s first Earth-orbiting artificial satellite, Sputnik1, Neil Armstrong and I set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969.The moon to me is not a distant object in space but a real place where I spent time, and a real landscape that I remember in my mind’s eye. Looking at the maps of Earth’s moon on these pages is for me a little like retracing a vacation on the map that was carried along.

--Buzz Aldrin

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