Posted on Wednesday, July 02, 2014
By Kadri

The Andromeda Galaxy and the Rise of Modern Astronomy by David Schultz

This book has a wonderful concept - showing how the Andromeda Galaxy has been an important object in the history of astronomy, and how modern astronomy got started.

The Andromeda Galaxy, or Messier 31 is quite easily recognizable on photos and it is one of the first deep sky objects that beginner observers look for in the sky and as such is an interesting object. The galaxy can be seen with the naked eye and it's easy to find in a dark sky, maybe that’s the reason why some medieval scholars thought it’s a place where the fabric of the sky has worn thin and the light of heaven is shining through it.

In the book one can read about what philosophers and astronomers thought M31 was, the theories about it, and who were the first people to observe it through a telescope.

Andromeda galaxy is just a part of this book though, as it continues fast enough with the history of astronomy – how scientists were able to gather more information about the Universe and how the observations lead to changes in our understanding of the size and age of the Universe and the nature of the objects that reside in it.

The history part is extensive, and includes the more prominent astronomers and their discoveries, so one can read about astronomers starting with Johannes Kepler and all the way to 20th century and Edwin Hubble’s work as well as Harlow Shapley’s and others.

It makes for pleasant reading as the book isn’t too technical and concentrates mostly on history. Although the book’s title starts with the Andromeda galaxy, then it doesn’t play a big part in it.

One of the problems in the book is a large number of errors that are mostly in the names of scientists, so one can see the names written in several ways, but there are others as well, that won’t go unnoticed by a reader with some knowledge about physics and the history of astronomy.


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