The story of Universe is one of the great perennial science stories because it is continually modified as dramatic new discoveries are made and interpretation of the observations changes. As Heather Couper and Nigel Henbest demonstrate so well, space is becoming more complex and greater understanding is slowly being achieved. For anyone interested in astronomy these are very exciting times. And, who cannot but wonder about the "heavens", the space and stars of the Universe and whether there "is anybody else out there?"
Couper and Henbest start their excellent survey with the astronomical drama of the last decade, the story of one of the most expensive science experiments ever (costing well over a billion US dollars), the building and launch of Hubble Space Telescope in 1990.Fortunately, the endeavour was ultimately successful and ranks as one of the great technical achievements of all time. As so many of the remarkable pictures in this book show, the telescope has allowed us to look further into deep space and with greater definition than ever before.
To provide a text that can compete with such spectacular and arresting pictures can be difficult. Heather Couper and Nigel Henbest are ideally qualified to write for a general readership and combine academic qualifications with award winning science writing. The book is divided into four sections starting with the origin of the Universe followed by the stars, planets and SETI--the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence. The narrative is greatly enhanced by extensive quotes and comments, derived from interviews with the world's leading astronomers. --DouglasPalmer