Stargazer: The Life and Times of the Telescope

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Allen & Unwin, 2004 - 342 pages
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The history of the telescope is a rich story of human ingenuity and perseverance involving some of the most colourful figures of the scientific world - Galileo, Johannes, Kepler, Isaac Newton, William Herschel, George Ellery Hale and Edwin Hubble. Stargazer, written by one of the world's top astronomers, brings to life the story of these brilliant, if sometimes quirky, scientists as they turned their eyes and ideas beyond what anyone thought possible.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - T.Rex - LibraryThing

This is an excellent volume on the History of the telescope by a well-known astronomer. The volume traces the origin, evolution and development of this most essential astronomical instrument. The book is written in a lively and interesting style. Read full review

STARGAZER: The Life and Times of the Telescope

User Review  - Kirkus

The story of telescope makers and their instruments, told with gleeful professionalism by the astronomer in charge of the Anglo-Australian Observatory.Watson opens this pleasing history with a little ... Read full review

Selected pages


Power Telescopes
The Eyes of Denmark
On Reflection
Mirror Image
Dream Optics
Silver and Glass
Walking with Galaxies
Notes and sources

The Way to Heaven
Astronomers Behaving Badly
The worlds great telescopes

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Page 239 - I looked into the spectroscope. No spectrum such as I expected! A single bright line only! At first I suspected some displacement of the prism, and that I was looking at a reflection of the illuminated slit from one of its faces. This thought was scarcely more than momentary; then the true interpretation flashed upon me. The light of the nebula was monochromatic, and so, unlike any other light I had as yet subjected to prismatic examination, could not be extended out to form a complete spectrum.
Page 99 - our astronomical observer" at a salary of £100 per annum, his duty being "forthwith to apply himself with the most exact care and diligence to the rectifying the tables of the motions of the heavens and the places of the fixed stars, so as to find out the so much desired longitude of places for the perfecting the art of navigation.
Page 96 - Here out of the window it was a most pleasant sight to see the City from one end to the other with a glory about it, so high was the light of the bonfires, and so thick round the City, and the bells rang everywhere.
Page 239 - The riddle of the nebulae was solved. The answer, which had come to us in the light itself, read: Not an aggregation of stars, but a luminous gas.
Page 72 - ... the rest and the whole brimme along, lookes like unto the Description of Coasts in the dutch bookes of voyages. in the full she appeares like a tarte that my Cooke made me the last Weeke.
Page 294 - Planimetra, and Stereometria, containing Rules manifolde for mensuration of all lines, Superficies, and Solides...
Page 264 - ... with the theory but unapproachable in any vacuumtube. Similarly, Adams' observations of the companion of Sirius with the Hooker telescope confirmed Eddington's prediction that matter can exist thousands of times denser than any terrestrial substance. In fact, things have reached such a point that a far-sighted industrial leader, whose success may depend in the long run on a complete knowledge of the nature of matter and its transformations, would hardly be willing to be limited by the feeble...
Page 226 - I consider the failure of the Melbourne reflector to have been one of the greatest calamities in the history of instrumental astronomy for, by destroying confidence in the usefulness of great reflecting telescopes, it has hindered the development of this type of instrument, so wonderfully efficient in photographic and spectroscopic work, for nearly a third of a century.

About the author (2004)

Dr Fred Watson is Astronomer-in-Charge of the Anglo-Australian Observatory at Coonabarabran in central NSW, where he is responsible for the scientific output of Australia's largest optical telescope. Fred writes regularly for Sky + Space magazine and the annual Yearbook of Astronomy. His articles have also appeared many well-known journals, including New Scientist, Sky + Telescope and Astronomy Now. Fred is a frequent broadcaster, and has a monthly phone-in show on ABC radio.

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