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The Astronomy Book

The Astronomy Book

by DK


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Since the dawn of humankind, people have looked upward to the heavens and tried to understand them. This encyclopedia takes you on an expedition through time and space to discover our place in the universe.

We invite you to take a journey through the wonders of the universe. Explore the cosmos, from planets to black holes, the Big Bang, and everything in-between!  

Get ready to discover the story of the universe one page at a time! This educational book for young adults will launch you on a wild trip through the cosmos and the incredible discoveries throughout history.

Filled to the brim with beautifully illustrated flowcharts, graphics, and jargon-free language, The Astronomy Book breaks down hard-to-grasp concepts to guide you in understanding almost 100 big astronomical ideas.

Big Ideas

How do we measure the universe? Where is the event horizon? What is dark matter? Now you can find out all the answers to these questions and so much more in this inquisitive book about our universe!

Using incredibly clever visual learning devices like step-by-step diagrams, you’ll learn more about captivating topics from the Copernican Revolution. Dive into the mind-boggling theories of recent science in a user-friendly format that makes the information easy to follow.

Explore the biographies, theories, and discoveries of key astronomers through the ages such as Ptolemy, Galileo, Newton, Hubble, and Hawking.

To infinity and beyond! Journey through space and time with us:

• From Myth to Science 600 BCE – 1550 CE
• The Telescope Revolution 1550 – 1750 
• Uranus to Neptune 1750 – 1850 
• The Rise of Astrophysics 1850 – 1915 
• Atom, Stars, And Galaxies 1915 – 1950
• New Windows on The Universe 1950 – 1917
• The Triumph of Technology 1975 – Present 

The Series Simply Explained 

With over 7 million copies sold worldwide to date, The Astronomy Book is part of the award-winning Big Ideas Simply Explained series from DK Books. It uses innovative graphics along with engaging writing to make complex subjects easier to understand.


A Young Adult Library Services Association Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners list selection

A Mom's Choice Awards® Honoring Excellence Gold Seal of Approval for Young Adult Books

A Parents' Choice Gold Award winner

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780744028492
Publisher: DK
Publication date: 02/02/2021
Series: Big Ideas
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 176,726
Product dimensions: 7.60(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

We believe in the power of discovery. That's why we create books for everyone that explore ideas and nurture curiosity about the world we live in.
From first words to the Big Bang, from the wonders of nature to city adventures, you will find expert knowledge, hours of fun and endless inspiration in the pages of our books.

Table of Contents

Introduction 10

From Myth to Science 600 BCE-1550 CE

It is clear that Earth does not move 20

The geocentric model

Earth revolves around the sun on the circumference of a circle 21

Early heliocentric model

The equinoxes move over time 22

Shifting stars

The moon's brightness is produced by the radiance of the sun 23

Theories about the moon

All matters useful to the theory of heavenly things 24

Consolidating knowledge

The unmoving stars go uniformly westward 26

Earth's rotation

A little cloud in the night sky 27

Mapping the galaxies

A new calendar for China 28

The solar year

We have re-observed all of the stars in Ptolemy's catalog 30

Improved instruments

Finally we shall place the sun himself at the center of the universe 32

The Copernican model

The Telescope Revolution 1550-1750

I noticed a new and unusual star 44

The Tychonic model

Mira Ceti is a variable star 48

A new kind of star

The most true path of the planet is an ellipse 50

Elliptical orbits

Our own eyes show us four stars traveling around Jupiter 56

Galileo's telescope

A perfectly circular spot centered on the sun 64

The transit of Venus

New moons around Saturn 65

Observing Saturn's rings

Gravity explains the motions of the planets 66

Gravitational theory

I dare venture to foretell that the comet will return again in the year 1758 74

Halley's comet

These discoveries are the most brilliant and useful of the century 78

Stellar aberration

A catalog of the southern sky 79

Mapping southern stars

Uranus to Neptune 1750-1850

I found that it is a comet, for it has changed its place 84

Observing Uranus

The brightness of the star was altered 86

Variable stars

Our Milky Way is the dwelling, the nebulae are the cities 87

Messier objects

On the construction of the heavens 88

The Milky Way

Rocks fall from space 90

Asteroids and meteorites

The mechanism of the heavens 92

Gravitational disturbances

I surmise that it could be something better than a comet 94

The discovery of Ceres

A survey of the whole surface of the heavens 100

The southern hemisphere

An apparent movement of the stars 102

Stellar parallax

Sunspots appear in cycles 103

The surface of the sun

A spiral form of arrangement was detected 104

Examining nebulae

The planet whose position you have pointed out actually exists 106

The discovery of Neptune

The Rise of Astrophysics 1850-1915

Sodium is to be found in the solar atmosphere 112

The sun's spectrum

Stars can be grouped by their spectra 113

Analyzing starlight

Enormous masses of luminous gas 114

Properties of nebulae

The sun's yellow prominence differs from any terrestrial flame 116

The sun's emissions

Mars is traversed by a dense network of channels 117

Mapping Mars's surface

Photographing the stars 118


A precise measurement of the stars 120

The star catalog

Classifying the stars according to their spectra reveals their age and size 122

The characteristics of stars

There are two kinds of red star 128

Analyzing absorption lines

Sunspots are magnetic 129

The properties of sunspots

The key to a distance scale of the universe 130

Measuring the universe

Stars are giants or dwarfs 138

Refining star classification

Penetrating radiation is coming from space 140

Cosmic rays

A white hot star that is too faint 141

Discovering white dwarfs

Atoms, Stars, and Galaxies 1915-1950

Time and space and gravitation have no separate existence from matter 146

The theory of relativity

An exact solution to relativity predicts black holes 154

Curves in spacetime

The spiral nebulae are stellar systems 156

Spiral galaxies

Stars are dominated by hydrogen and helium 162

Stellar composition

Our galaxy is rotating 164

The shape of the Milky Way

A slow process of annihilation of matter 166

Nuclear fusion within stars

A day without yesterday 168

The birth of the universe

The universe is expanding in all directions 172

Beyond the Milky Way

White dwarfs have a maximum mass 178

The life cycles of stars

The radio universe 179

Radio astronomy

An explosive transition to a neutron star 180


The source of energy in stars is nuclear fusion 182

Energy generation

A reservoir of comets exists beyond the planets 184

The Kuiper belt

Some galaxies have active regions at their centers 185

Nuclei and radiation

The match of lunar and Earth material is too perfect 186

The origin of the moon

Important new discoveries will be made with flying telescopes 188

Space telescopes

It took less than an hour to make the atomic nuclei 196

The primeval atom

Stars are factories for the chemical elements 198


Sites of star formation 200

Dense molecular clouds

New Windows on the Universe 1950-1975

A vast cloud surrounds the solar system 206

The Oort cloud

Comets are dirty snowballs 207

The composition of comets

The way to the stars is open 208

The launch of Sputnik

The search for interstellar communications 210

Radio telescopes

Meteorites can vaporize on impact 212

Investigating craters

The sun rings like a bell 213

The sun's vibrations

The data can best be explained as X-rays from sources outside the solar system 214

Cosmic radiation

Brighter than a galaxy, but it looks like a star 218

Quasars and black holes

An ocean of whispers left over from our eruptive creations 222

Searching for the Big Bang

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence is a search for ourselves 228

Life on other planets

It has to be some new kind of star 236

Quasars and pulsars

Galaxies change over time 240

Understanding stellar evolution

We choose to go to the moon 242

The Space Race

The planets formed from a disk of gas and dust 250

The nebular hypothesis

Solar neutrinos can only be seen with a very large detector 252

The Homestake experiment

A star that we couldn't see 254

Discovering black holes

Black holes emit radiation 255

Hawking radiation

The Triumph of Technology 1975-Present

A grand tour of the giant planets 260

Exploring the solar system

Most of the universe is missing 268

Dark matter

Negative pressures produce repulsive gravity 272

Cosmic inflation

Galaxies appear to be on the surfaces of bubblelike structures 274

Redshift surveys

Stars form from the inside out 276

Inside giant molecular clouds

Wrinkles in time 280

Observing the CMB

The Kuiper belt is real 286

Exploring beyond Neptune

Most stars are orbited by planets 288


The most ambitious map of the universe ever 296

A digital view of the skies

Our galaxy harbors a massive central black hole 297

The heart of the Milky Way

Cosmic expansion is accelerating 298

Dark energy

Peering back over 13.5 billion years 304

Studying distant stars

Our mission is to land on a comet 306

Understanding comets

The violent birth of the solar system 312

The Mice model

A close-up view of an oddball of the solar system 314

Studying Pluto

A laboratory on Mars 318

Exploring Mars

The biggest eye on the sky 326

Looking farther into space

Ripples through spacetime 328

Gravitational waves

Directory 332

Glossary 340

Index 344

Acknowledgments 352

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