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Starlight Detectives Audiobook

Starlight Detectives: How Astronomers, Inventors, and Eccentrics Discovered the Modern Universe

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Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (173 )
5 star
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4.1 (156 )
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4.2 (155 )
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3 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Zachary Adams 05-26-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Experience the discovery of most of the universe."

    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.

    18 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff Parry Pescadero, CA USA 08-17-15
    Jeff Parry Pescadero, CA USA 08-17-15 Member Since 2012

    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.

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    Story
    "Telescopes, cameras and Spectographs"
    What made the experience of listening to Starlight Detectives the most enjoyable?

    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.


    What other book might you compare Starlight Detectives to and why?

    Longitude


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Louis Daguerre and the invention of the camera. The history behind the modern and old observatories.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No


    13 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SmartBean 04-23-15
    SmartBean 04-23-15 Member Since 2012
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    "very interesting"

    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.

    12 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike 11-23-16
    Mike 11-23-16 Member Since 2015
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    Story
    "Interesting history especially the Hale and Hubble"

    A bit dry at times but charming none the less. I wish there was more to the early history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    IowaGreyhound Ogden, IA USA 09-08-16
    IowaGreyhound Ogden, IA USA 09-08-16 Member Since 2014
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    "interesting history of astronomy"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Elliott Hatboro, PA 06-02-16
    S. Elliott Hatboro, PA 06-02-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Interesting!"

    It was a little hard to follow since I do not know much about astronomy. However, I really liked the chapters on celestial photography.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Davis 05-13-16
    A. Davis 05-13-16
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    "makes telescope history exciting"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherine Rowe San Luis Obispo, CA United States 03-18-16
    Catherine Rowe San Luis Obispo, CA United States 03-18-16 Member Since 2015

    crowe of cats

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    Story
    "Inspiring... But a bit dry."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew 03-03-16
    Andrew 03-03-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Well structured, but not the easiest to listen to"

    There is difficulty in this genre - the book jumps in time all the time to narrate different lines of the complex intervined history of invention and discovery. This keeps you on your toes when listening, but this is probably the best way to represent those kind of information

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Blair 07-20-16
    Eric Blair 07-20-16 Member Since 2013
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    "Interesting book, but eccentric reading"

    This is a non-fiction book, read by a performer as though it were a fiction that requires distinct voices for each character. Thus, he uses exaggerated, even goofy accents based on the national origin of each researcher quoted. This is most distracting, particularly because his accent for every English writer, no matter how well-heeled, sounds as though the researcher grew up in London's East End. It's the full Van Dyke.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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