ASNSW Book Reviews

“ASTRONOMY IN DEPTH”

Author: Gerald North
Pages: 230
Reviewed by: 1: Jim Lissikatos
2: Phillip Langley

Jim Lissikatos's Review:
What a great book! This 230 page book is broken up into understandable sections and also has some questions at the end of every chapter in case you want to delve into each subject in more depth.

The book starts with a description of our planet in structure and composition as well as our own place around the Sun. The next chapter describes starlight and the nature of electromagnetic radiation and the types of spectra that can be seen. We then move to our nearest neighbour, the Moon, and learn about its appearance as well as its orbit and structure.

We then move on to learn about Universal forces such as Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion and Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation. We start to delve into our Solar System by learning about the inferior planets then followed by the superior planets.

We then look into the formation of the solar system including the formation of asteroids and meteors as well as the origin, structure and history of comets. The next chapter deals with the formation and composition of our Sun. We then arrive at the only chapter that I had to reread several times with the utmost concentration. It involved the Celestial Sphere which involved latitude, longitude, declination, right ascension, precession, time zones, hour angles and other measurements of time

The next few chapters involve stellar evolution and all the different types of stars, as well as what happens when stars of different types end their fusion cycle. We also learn about the formation of galaxies as well as quasars and black holes with some theories on where it will all end.

I was a bit apprehensive of the title at first, but found the language used quite comfortable and I really enjoyed reading this book. I hope others read this review and decide to pick this book up from our library as well.

Happy Reading! - Jim Lissikatos


“ASTRONOMY IN DEPTH”

Author: Gerald North
Pages: 230
Reviewed by: 1: Jim Lissikatos
2: Phillip Langley

Phillip Langley's Review:
This is the second edition of Gerald North’s “Astronomy in Depth”. No biographical details of the author are given.

The words ‘in Depth’ in a title suggests to me that a book should be a scientific encyclopaedia and that the subject matter will be fully covered. This book is not an encyclopaedia and a more accurate title would be ‘Astronomy in Detail’ as many aspects of astronomy are referred to in the book’s 230 pages. It is a detailed overview, but not “details in depth”. In spite of the misleading title however, the objective is well described in the preface.

The book is easy to read and provides more information on many topics than would be found in a beginner’s text. The questions at the end of each chapter are useful and it is a worthwhile addition to the ASNSW library.

Unfortunately, I found a number of significant errors, which reduced my confidence in accepting some of the book’s information. On page 43, for example, there are two errors. The second equation in the text on page 43 (i.e. for velocity) should not have a power of ‘2’. The fourth equation in the text on page 43 (i.e. for force) should not contain the last variable ‘s’. On page 47, the equation at the top of the second column should include a factor ‘2’ before ‘G’ inside the square root sign.

These errors indicate carelessness and a lack of attention to detail, I presume in a rush to have the book published in as short a time as possible. This is an unusual and unwelcome oversight for a second edition. There may be more errors that I failed to notice.

Some drawings and captions are not accurate or clear. On page 130, the definition of right ascension is poorly expressed. Rather than the “angle between”, RA should be expressed as from one extremity to the other, as the direction determines the sign or direction east (positive) or west (negative). The angle is always expressed in direction from the vernal equinox to the star’s own meridian, so the text should say so. On page 131, there is a poor illustration with the angle for approximately 50ºN drawn as 40ºN. On page 138 in Clause 13.15, ‘658 days’ should read ‘6585 days’, i.e. 10 times longer.

In summary, the book is a good overview of astronomy, but with some significant errors and other shortcomings. It is very informative, but more in general terms than an indepth textbook.