To the naked eye, the heavens may look monochrome and still-blue during the day, black at night, dotted with little sparkles of starlight. But the universe as shown to us by the Hubble Space Telescope-as shown extravagantly in the photos in this volume-is full of color, as well as movement and drama. Kerrod, an astronomer and author, explains the heavenly phenomena captured by the HST: the smoky Ring Nebula in the constellation Lyra; the birth of stars; Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 headed for a fiery impact with Jupiter. She also provides a history of the use of telescopes in astronomy and of the HST in particular, from its launch in 1990 and the emergency repair of a flawed mirror, to the later servicings of what Kerrod calls "one of the most amazing scientific instruments ever made."
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Astronomer Kerrod is not exaggerating when he writes that the Hubble Space Telescope is "one of the most amazing scientific instruments ever made," and no science collection is complete without at least one book devoted to the unprecedented and universe-defining images Hubble has amassed. Kerrod provides an excellent overview of Hubble's accomplishments (along with a history of the evolution of the telescope), thoughtfully organizing the spellbinding images from space, and clearly and avidly explaining exactly which phenomena they depict. One of the most dramatic series showcases the death of a star, a red giant, in which molten matter is shot out into space from a superhot core to form expanding, baroquely chimerical shells. Hubble has "revolutionized" the study of these dynamic "stellar ghosts," just as it has recorded another fascinating, never before seen process, the transformation of dusty protoplanetary disks into planets. As Kerrod classifies galaxies by shape and discusses how difficult it is to spot extrasolar planets, he can't help but express his belief that the universe contains "other planetary systems like our own." Donna Seaman
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