A Journal of the Irrepressible

Archive for December, 2003

Seeing in the Dark

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review by Brian Charles Clark

Seeing in the Dark : How Amateur Astronomers Are Discovering the Wonders of the Universe
by Timoth Ferris
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2003

Seeing in the DarkIn today’s climate of Big Science, where scientists with one or more PhDs ruthlessly compete for limited grant money and limited viewing time on big telescopes, it would be easy to assume that amateur astronomers simply have no place in astronomy. In fact, this is far from the case. Because access to big scopes is so competitive, professional astronomers tend to turn their gazes toward “big topic” targets: distant quasars, galaxies, black holes, and other objects that are simply beyond the reach of small telescopes. The Hubble Space Telescope, for instance, is not allowed to be pointed within about 25 degrees of the sun for fear of damaging the $1.5 billion instrument with solar radiation-meaning that it can never image the planet Mercury, and only rarely Venus. Indeed, the Solar System is one of the prime domains of amateur astronomers. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Brian

December 7th, 2003 at 2:31 pm

Posted in reviews, science