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Galaxy - James Geach ***

This heavily illustrated tour of modern astronomy starts with a rather painful analogy of looking at distant cities from a tall hill on the outskirts of a great city. To be honest, I found the analogy significantly harder to envisage than the galaxies it is supposed to represent - but once we're past it, James Geach settles down to a more straightforward informative style.

If you want to absorb a wide range of facts about galaxies and the universe, this is a great source. Geach incorporates a lot of colour images - I must admit, after a while starfield after starfield got a bit similar, though there are always new and interesting structures to discover. As a reader, you will find out plenty of information on current astronomy, with a surprising amount of depth on some aspects of astronomy and cosmology for an illustrated title. Whether you are interested in the tools used to explore the galaxies or the latest findings, you will find something impressive here.

Overall, for me, though, it wasn't a book I could really get on with. It provides a relentless procession of facts - more a simplified textbook than a popular science title. There's not much in the way of narrative, so for someone who is interested but not deeply involved in the subject Galaxy can get a little heavy going. I was disappointed, given the relative depth of some of the content, that there was very little on what dark matter and dark energy might be and the efforts to discover this. Similarly, given their assumed importance in galaxy formation, I was disappointed that 'black hole' doesn't even appear in the index.

It's certainly a hugely informative book, just not one I particularly enjoyed reading.

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Review by Brian Clegg

Comments

  1. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy the book Brian. I avoided going into the speculative details of what DM and DE might actually be because I felt that was probably beyond the scope of the book, which I wanted to focus on galaxy evolution. I must correct you on the last point about black holes in the index however: they do appear, but under "supermassive black hole" , which are the most relevant for galaxy evolution, but perhaps we should have linked this to a separate entry under "black hole" too. Jim

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    1. Thanks, Jim. It was a very short index - I would expect there to be several entries under black hole, including 'Black hole, supermassive' - I missed 'Supermassive black hole', but that's a fairly unlikely thing to search for.

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