BN.com Gift Guide

The Stars of Heaven

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 92%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (25) from $1.99   
  • New (10) from $3.02   
  • Used (15) from $1.99   

Overview

Do a little armchair space travel, rub elbows with alien life forms, and stretch your mind to the furthest corners of our uncharted universe. With this astonishing guide book, The Stars of Heaven, you need not be an astronomer to explore the mysteries of stars and their profound meaning for human existence.

Stars have fascinated humankind since the dawn of history and have allowed us to transcend ordinary lives in our literature, art, and religions. In fact, humans have always looked to the stars as a source of inspiration and transcendence that lifts us beyond the boundaries of ordinary intuition. In the tradition of One Two Three... Infinity, Pickover tackles a range of topics from stellar evolution to the fundamental and awe-inspiring reasons why the universe permits life to flourish. Where did we come from? What is the universe's ultimate fate? Pickover alternates sections that explaining the mysteries of the cosmos with sections that dramatize mind-expanding concepts through a fictional dialog between futuristic humans and their alien peers who embark on a journey beyond the reader's wildest imagination. This highly accessible and entertaining approach turns an intimidating subject into a scientific game open to all dreamers.

Told in Clifford Pickover's inimitable blend of fascinating state-of-the-art science and whimsical science fiction, and packed with numerous diagrams and illustrations, The Stars of Heaven unfolds a world of paradox and mystery, one that will intrigue anyone who has ever pondered the night sky with wonder.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Full of whimsy and sci-fi touches, such as an intergalatic art museum and some rather strange aliens, this book is equally full of facts and fun. Fanciful line drawings and diagrams throughout illustrate the key concepts explained by acclaimed science populist Clifford Pickover. Even if you don't have any background in astronomy, as Pickover says in his introduction: "By the time you finish this book, you'll be able to impress your friends with such arcane phrases as the Rydberg-Ritz formula, Paschen series, heliopause, helium flash, triple alpha processes, and Hertzsprung-Russell."
Kirkus Reviews
Ambitious overview of astronomy, by the author of Strange Brains and Genius (1998), whose material here seems far more often strewn than marshaled. Popular-science journalist Pickover's central belief-that the "stars of heaven" yield the essential secrets of existence itself and, in so doing, are a spiritual as well as scientific resource-is shared by many. Nonetheless, he spends too much of an overcrowded agenda initially selling this idea, invoking along the way everyone from Vincent van Gogh to Britney Spears. Even after this preamble, Pickover feels obliged to employ a SF scenario featuring a cast of hyperevolved extraterrestrials to add flair to his illumination of various stellar phenomena. Unfortunately, since he also uses these characters to relentlessly flaunt his erudition and grasp of biochemistry, it doesn't work. After plodding through endless digressions in the fictionally enhanced sessions, lay readers will likely yearn to relax with the more formal discourse that reprises each. These are indeed packed with facts and figures. (For example: A solar granule is about the size of the state of California.) The author's failure to initially focus, however, means he must bob and weave through a capsule history of astronomy and the basic processes of the stellar/solar furnace before settling into what he really wants to write about: how we got here, where we're going, and why. It is only in these latter sections, credibly merging points of scientific departure with informed speculation, that Pickover finally finds fourth gear. By projecting the fate of carbon-based life as we know it (or perhaps don't yet) in terms of galactic evolution, he mostly avoids the stupefyingstrings and beads of the quantum geeks and gives us the vision of a palpable universe, marching forward to somewhere. Finding God in the details is possible, but labor-intensive.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195171594
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/5/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Clifford A. Pickover is an associate editor of several journals, prolific inventor, and puzzle columnist for magazines such as Discover. Pickover is also the author of many best-selling books on popular science topics. He lives in Yorktown Heights, New York.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction
Ch. 1 Stellar Parallax and the Quest for Transcendence 1
Ch. 2 The Joy and Paschen of Starlight 14
Ch. 3 Spectral Classes, Temperatures, and Doppler Shifts 39
Ch. 4 Luminosity and the Distance Modulus 58
Ch. 5 Hertzsprung-Russell, Mass-Luminosity Relations, and Binary Stars 71
Ch. 6 Last Tango on the Heliopause 90
Ch. 7 Stellar Evolution and the Helium Flash 117
Ch. 8 Stellar Graveyards, Nucleosynthesis, and Why We Exist 142
Ch. 9 Some Final Thoughts 188
Notes 198
App. 1 Stars in the Bible 212
App. 2 Updates and Breakthroughs 217
Further Reading 224
About the Author 226
Index 229
Read More Show Less

Interviews & Essays

Exclusive Author Essay
In his song "Farmer's Almanac," Johnny Cash sings these beautiful words: "God gave us the darkness so we could see the stars." I kept repeating Cash's verse on stars as I wrote The Stars of Heaven. As with many of my books, The Stars of Heaven is meant to stretch your imagination and touch on subjects on the edges of science, art, and even religion. Let me tell you how the book started...

A few years ago I was walking in a field when I came upon a large skull. It was probably from a bear, although I like to imagine it was part of the remains of a prehistoric mammal that once roamed Westchester County, New York. I'm a collector of prehistoric skulls. In my office, I have a skull of a saber-toothed tiger. This killing machine had huge, daggerlike canine teeth and a mouth that could open 90 degrees to clear the sabers for their killing bite.

When I run my fingers lingeringly over the skulls, I am sometimes reminded of stars in the heavens. Without stars, there could be no skulls. The elements in bone, like calcium, were first created in the hot stellar furnaces and then blown into space when the stars died. Without stars there would be no elements heavier than hydrogen and helium, and, therefore, life would never have evolved. There would be no planets, no microbes, no plants, no tigers, no humans.

In my book, you'll do a little armchair space travel, rub elbows with alien life forms, and glimpse the furthest corners of our uncharted universe. Stars have fascinated humankind since the dawn of history and have allowed us to transcend ordinary lives in our literature, art, and religion. Where did we come from? What is the universe's ultimate fate? Are there other universes we can never see? Was our universe designed by a god?

In about 5 billion years, the hydrogen fuel in our sun will be exhausted in its core, and the sun will begin to die and dramatically expand, becoming a red giant. At some point, our oceans will boil away. As Freeman Dyson once said, "No matter how deep we burrow into the Earth...we can only postpone by a few million years our miserable end." Where will humans be, a few billion years from now, at the end of the world? It seems so sad. However, I don't think we have to mourn for humanity. In a few billion years, humans will probably have downloaded their minds to computers, left the solar system in some great diaspora, and sought their salvation in the stars.

You can tell that my book is an amalgam of science fiction, science fact, religion, art and science. It's also a serious astronomy primer covering all the basics of stellar structure and evolution and also on creative theories about our place in this grand universe. I've touched on similar cosmic topics on the borderlands of science before, and I hope you'll take a look at some of my other books, for example: Black Holes: A Traveler's Guide, Time: A Traveler's Guide, Surfing Through Hyperspace, The Science of Aliens, and The Paradox of God and the Science of Omniscience. Please visit my web page, Pickover.com, and join our discussions on The Stars of Heaven and all my other books. I leave you with an appropriate Serbian proverb to get your mind in gear: "Be humble for you are made of dung. Be noble for you are made of stars." (Clifford Pickover)

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

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
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2001

    A far-out journey

    This book is a great introduction to stars in science, art, and religion. The illustrations help the reader to understand complicated concepts. My favorite parts of the book deal with the anthropic principle. These sections address the question: Was the universe designed? I also liked the sections on the evolution of multiple universes. Even though the book has sections on art (e.g. Van Gogh) and religion (e.g. stars in the Bible), the book could certainly be used as a hard-core stellar astronomy textbook because it covers everything you would want to know about all the variety of stars in outer space (evolution, nucleosythesis, stellar anatomy, spectral classes, black holes, etc.) Science-fiction buffs will enjoy the very strange and very interesting tale about an oddball set of characters who journey to the end of the universe to make investigations. A cool book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2013

    Star Angel Meetingplace

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

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