In 1929, Edwin Hubble announced the greatest discovery in the history of astronomy since Galileo first turned a telescope to the heavens. The galaxies, previously believed to float serenely in the void, are in fact hurtling apart at an incredible speed: the universe is expanding. This stunning discovery was the culmination of a decades-long arc of scientific and technical advancement. In its shadow lies an untold, yet equally fascinating, backstory whose cast of characters illuminates the gritty, hard-won nature of scientific progress.
The path to a broader mode of cosmic observation was blazed by a cadre of 19th-century amateur astronomers and inventors, galvanized by the advent of photography, spectral analysis, and innovative technology to create the entirely new field of astrophysics. From William Bond, who turned his home into a functional observatory, to John and Henry Draper, a father and son team who were trailblazers of astrophotography and spectroscopy, to geniuses of invention such as Lon Foucault and George Hale, who founded the Mount Wilson Observatory, Hirshfeld reveals the incredible stories and the ambitious dreamers behind the birth of modern astronomy.
©2014 Alan Hirshfeld (P)2014 Audible Inc.
"A masterful balance of science, history and rich narrative." (Discover magazine)
"Hirshfeld tells this climactic discovery of the expanding universe with great verve and sweep, as befits a story whose scope, characters and import leave most fiction far behind." (Wall Street Journal)
"Starlight Detectives is just the sort of richly veined book I love to read full of scientific history and discoveries, peopled by real heroes and rogues, and told with absolute authority. Alan Hirshfeld's wide, deep knowledge of astronomy arises not only from the most careful scholarship, but also from the years he's spent at the telescope, posing his own questions to the stars" (Dava Sobel, author of A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos and Longitude)
Extraordinarily well written!! Perfect balance of technical and human storytelling. A must read for anyone interested in astronomy. Easily read and enjoyed by non-technical savy y listeners.
I live and work at a lighthouse in central California since '97. I have been surfing since '82 and have a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from UCSC. I was a naturalist for children from '97-03. Zen Buddhist.
I found the history of the characters behind the evolution of the telescope and the camera the most interesting. Although the story behind the spectrograph was surprisingly well told. The reader is perfect.
Louis Daguerre and the invention of the camera. The history behind the modern and old observatories.
A week written and well read account of the history of astrophysics. As an amateur astronomer of many decades I found it fascinating to read about the struggles of pioneers in celestial photography in particular.
What I had hoped for was a short history of astronomy written for the layperson. But what I found instead was a book that goes into a textbook level of detail---one whose target audience would be those working or studying in the fields of astronomy and astrophysics.
Most of the book's focus is on the 1800s. Of the 13+ hours, perhaps a half-hour or so of it delves into the early 1900s, and that's where it ends. I found that disappointing, as my primary interest was in learning about advancements from the 1900s to present.
None of this should be deemed as a critique of this well written book. They're simply observations to help readers determine whether or not this is what they're looking for.
This book is a great listen for anyone interested in astronomy. Most of the book is spent on an account of the transition of astronomy from an amateur hobby in the 19th century to a professional and rigorous scientifically field, culminating in Edwin Hubble's work at Mount Wilson Observatory to establish that spiral nebulae are galaxies well outside our own that are speeding away from us at a rate that increases with their distance to us. It gives some very interesting historical perspective on many current active fields of research in astrophysics, such as dark matter and energy.
A bit dry at times but charming none the less. I wish there was more to the early history.
This book gives a very detailed history of astronomy, including photography of celestial objects, spectroscopy, to the discoveries of Hubble and Einstein. The book goes into too much detail at times, but covers each astronomer well along with colleagues and enemies. The reader does an excellent job.
The narrator is wonderful and the use of accents adds to the story. Audio books like this make me look forward to my daily commute. This topic could easily be boring but the telling is dynamic without being annoying like some infomercial reader.
crowe of cats
Some great stories about the history of Astronomy. Some interesting, some inspiring, but some a bit too dry. It felt like there were places for a bit of color, or an anecdote that might have fleshed out these historical characters a bit more. But maybe those true stories were left out to leave more room for the fact-facts. In the driest parts the narrator feels like a drone. Although he does work to create interest where he can, doing some of the accents.
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