Pioneers in Astronomy and Space Exploration

Article excerpt

Edited by Michael Anderson. 2013. 112 pp. $35.25. Rosen Publishing Group, New York. ISBN: 9781615306954

In a concise format, the author describes the achievements of 37 men and women who sought to understand the mysteries of the universe. The time line spans from ancient Greece to space exploration in the 21st century. It carries us from a geocentric view of the solar system, which thwarted advancements in astronomy to our modern Sun-centered or heliocentrive view.

Early explanations of astronomical phenomena were based on what could be seen with the human eye and mathematical calculations. Readers will be amazed to learn how much information was amassed, such as the size and movement of celestial bodies, distances from the Earth, and catalogs of stars. These pioneers laid the foundation for future studies in astronomy.

A brief biography of each of these pioneers from different cultures and countries is provided, beginning in childhood--their family relationships, obstacles they encountered, and their education. It reveals how tenacity, curiosity, and thirst for adventure and knowledge led to further understanding of the universe. When you read about their plights, just think of the exhilaration they must have experienced.

It is interesting to read about the Cassini family--four generations of astronomers. The authors clearly describe obser vations, experiments, discoveries, theories, laws, and publications (books, catalogs) made by each pioneer. Also listed are awards received, funding sources, and positions held by these pioneers. It is noted that the invention of the telescope ushered in a new era in astronomy. …