The Firefly Encyclopedia of Astronomy
Wide-ranging but shallow, this lavishly illustrated abridgment of the four-volume Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics provides an engaging trove of information for lay people. Articles on topics in astrophysics and cosmology convey several decades worth of findings in these fields without trying to explain the science to non-experts. Concise historical pieces cover the achievements of famous astronomers and note significant observatories and space missions. Short essays probe astronomical themes in art and literature. Planets get multi-page spreads amidst a swarm of short entries on individual galaxies, stars, comets and asteroids. Aimed at the enthusiastic amateur, the volume also includes how-to articles on backyard astronomy covering a variety of instruments, from simple binoculars to do-it-yourself radio telescopes and spectrometers. Readers are further encouraged to look to the heavens by tables containing precise sky coordinates for some of the more dazzling celestial objects and by the profusion of gorgeous astronomical photographs, many in color. Despite occasionally serious errors, like a garbled account of the synthesis of helium atoms in stars, the volume provides a useful and visually inspiring reference for budding Galileos. 350 color photographs, 165 illustrations.