The Alchemy of the Heavens: Searching for Meaning in the Milky Way

Overview

The Alchemy Of The Heavens offers an exciting and accessible survey of what we know about our galaxy.  The home of the earth, the sun, and countless other stars, the Milky Way has long been an object of human fascintation, but it's been in the last forty years that astromoners and astrophysicists have made the most startling discoveries about our galaxy.  Author Ken Croswell reveals that the Milky Way formed as many earlier galaxies collopsed and smashed together; that may of the elements in ...
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Overview

The Alchemy Of The Heavens offers an exciting and accessible survey of what we know about our galaxy.  The home of the earth, the sun, and countless other stars, the Milky Way has long been an object of human fascintation, but it's been in the last forty years that astromoners and astrophysicists have made the most startling discoveries about our galaxy.  Author Ken Croswell reveals that the Milky Way formed as many earlier galaxies collopsed and smashed together; that may of the elements in the galaxy--including the iron and carbon that course through our bodies--were born in exploding supernovae; that in all likelihood there is a massive black hole at the center of the galaxy, with a million times more mass than the sun, and that the Milky Way's oldest stars preserve the elements created in the big bang, thereby serving as "fossils" of the universe's earliest days. A captivating journey through the modern astronomy of the Milky Way, Croswell shows us how a deeper understanding of the nature and working of the galaxy can offer larger clues into the origins of the universe itself.

With a remarkable ability to make the most difficult concepts clear, Croswell skillfully leads the reader through a detailed survey of current thinking on the Milky Way, introducing the brilliant astronomers who have made critical discoveries and recounting the fierce debates that have helped fuel our understanding of the galaxy. Photos & illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Croswell, an astronomer and experienced science writer, has authored an up-to-date and quite readable overview of our present knowledge concerning the Milky Way. Much of this survey concerns relatively recent discoveries about our galaxy, especially those of the last few decades. In a relaxed style suitable for the general reader, the author recounts important developments in historical context, drawing where possible on interviews with the astronomers who were involved. The work is thus strongly flavored with human interest and some sense of how the science was accomplished. Examples of the numerous topics considered are stellar populations, conflicting models of galactic birth and the origin of the elements-hence ``alchemy.'' The implications of galactic phenomena for cosmology are emphasized. This enlightening and entertaining account has an unfortunate title that is an inadequate clue to its contents. Illustrations. May
Library Journal
Croswell, a writer for popular science magazines, offers an excellent overview of current thinking on the structure and evolution of our home galaxy. Beginning with a quick tour of the Milky Way, its ten satellite bodies, and the "Local Group," the author places the sun and other familiar stars within the galaxy's distinct segments. He recounts the early, stumbling progress of astronomers toward an understanding of the Milky Way and other massive, isolated collections of stars, which came to be revealed as such only through the flurry of discoveries and technical advancements made in this century. While some material is more accessible to specialists, Croswell does an admirable job of linking a knowledge of the Milky Way's components, dynamics, and evolution to even greater cosmological questions: the age, mass, and ultimate fate of the universe. For public and academic libraries.-Patrick Dunn, East Tennessee State Univ. Lib., Johnson City
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385472142
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/1/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 356
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.75 (d)

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