Comets: A Chronological History of Observation, Science, Myth, and Folklore

Donald K. Yeomans, Author John Wiley & Sons $35 (496p) ISBN 978-0-471-61011-3
Although they are the smallest bodies in the solar system, comets historically command more public interest than any other astronomic event; in the 17th and 18th centuries in particular, comet study drew together a galaxy of brilliant mathematicians, astronomers, physicists--Newton, Kepler, La Place--and a cast of gifted amateurs. Yeomans, deftly combining that era's science with information from the recent Vega comet probes and often equally intriguing folklore (the comet of 1680 was reputedly predicted by patterns on a chicken egg), achieves a rare balance between rigor and humanity in a science history. Sidebars, diagrams, photos and short biographies propel the reader through 2500 years of the history of astronomy, making this a blazing science book that is lively to look at as well as to read. Yeomans is a staff manager at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Astronomy Book Club main selection. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 02/01/1991
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