Posted on Tuesday, August 25, 2015
By Kadri
Alpha Centauri: Unveiling the Secrets of Our Nearest Stellar Neighbor by Martin Beech

Alpha Centauri is a curious star - most fourth-graders know that it's the nearest star to us, yet almost no-one knows Alpha Centauri with a different name such as Rigil Kent or Toliman, although most other bright stars are rarely called Alpha Canis Majoris or Alpha Böootes if you can get away easier with Sirius or Arcturus.

Alpha Centauri is made even more curious in this book, as would happen with any topic if you just go deep enough into it.

So in this book you find out a lot more about the Alpha Centauri systems than you could by reading it's entry on wikipedia, but not only that - you can read about it in a fascinating way and at the same time you get a deeper insight into all stars in general and into our own Sun as well, and the history of observing the Alpha Centauri system is quite interesting.

Naturally enough as Alpha Centauri appears very bright, it was a natural choice as one of the stars for measuring stellar parallax in the 1830s, and you can find out more about that in the book. Reading about it with the attention on Alpha Centauri made something in my head click and suddenly it seemed very logical to me why Struve in Tartu chose Vega and Henderson Alpha Centauri and also why Bessel didn't choose Sirius, although I still wonder why he chose 61 Cygni...

In general this book was wonderful in making the reader think more deeply about stars, their distances and their similarities and differences to our Sun. Also the question whether Proxima Centauri is actually a part of the Alpha Centauri system is very interesting.
The book is well written and researched and it makes you long for other similar books about some other remarkable stars as well.

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