Friday, 23 March 2012

Hubble: the mirror on the universe – Robin Kerrod & Carole Stott ***

I was asked to review this book as I also looked at a book with a scarily similar title, Hubble: window on the universe. Both are coffee table books that depend on pictures from the Hubble telescope for their appeal. Both have 224 pages of big colour pictures, using those stunning images that Hubble has provided over the years.
I can’t fault the image selection in either. Here, after a quick look at the telescope itself we progress through stars, stellar destruction, galaxies, the big bang, the solar system and planets. Of the two, the text is definitely better in this book, while the other title has the edge on the photos because of the sheer size of the book – 37×30 to this book’s 28×23. That extra size means that ‘window’ really wows you visually.
However the bigger pictures here are still stunning, and it is noticeably easier to hold. You can just about read this in your lap, where ‘window’ probably needs to be on a table to have a chance.
This is an excellent choice, and in its 2011 third edition the more up-to-date of the two. I also significantly preferred the text here. But this isn’t going to be the sort of book you read cover-to-cover, and as such, for the sheer scale of the photos, the other book just has the edge. And if you want a book that’s more manageable to read with a stronger concentration on the text, I’d probably recommend our editor’s Exploring the Universe instead. It doesn’t stop this being an excellent book, though – and this book would make a great present for anyone interested in astronomy.
Paperback:  
Review by Jo Reed

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