The Alchemy of the Heavens

Ken Croswell, Author, Philippe Van, Illustrator
Ken Croswell, Author, Philippe Van, Illustrator Doubleday Books $24.95 (340p) ISBN 978-0-385-47213-5
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
Croswell, an astronomer and experienced science writer, has authored an up-to-date and quite readable overview of our present knowledge concerning the Milky Way. Much of this survey concerns relatively recent discoveries about our galaxy, especially those of the last few decades. In a relaxed style suitable for the general reader, the author recounts important developments in historical context, drawing where possible on interviews with the astronomers who were involved. The work is thus strongly flavored with human interest and some sense of how the science was accomplished. Examples of the numerous topics considered are stellar populations, conflicting models of galactic birth and the origin of the elements--hence ``alchemy.'' The implications of galactic phenomena for cosmology are emphasized. This enlightening and entertaining account has an unfortunate title that is an inadequate clue to its contents. Illustrations. (May)