Thursday, October 07, 2010

Stargazer: The Life and Times of the Telescope (Fred Watson)

No, this is not fiction. And no, this isn't entirely a review.

Not a lot of people know that I'm a huge astronomy nut. I keep a refractor here in Manila, as well as an assortment of binoculars scattered between the different places I call home. I have SETI@home. I regularly buy astronomy textbooks and pretend that I will someday volunteer at the Apache Point Observatory and help make a 3D map of the universe. But I'm no expert. I can still tell you that Venus is hanging pretty low tonight towards the west and will disappear in an hour or so, or that I'll probably be asleep by the time Orion is no longer eclipsed by the old factory behind our home. That's probably the only kind of backyard astronomy that I can do.

That's why I thoroughly enjoyed Dr Fred Watson's Stargazer: The Life and Times of the Telescope. It remains firmly focused on just one essential aspect of astronomy by tackling the discovery, development, and the significance of the telescope. From key figures like Tycho Brahe, Isaac Newton, Laurent Cassegrain, and William Herschel to the various scandals and controversies surrounding the telescope, Dr Watson weaves history and fact into a friendly yet informative account that won't scare off beginning astronomers like me. It also accounts for the more well-known telescopes and observatories of our time which personally translates into a must-visit wish list.

In writing Stargazer, Dr Watson succeeds in widening the general public's understanding of such an important instrument. It presents a rich tapestry of stories that perfectly complements what I consider the most poetic branch of science.


Alex Lapa said...

Out of topic, I know, but I really really love your header hehe

dementedchris said...

Haha! Thanks, Leki! I got the frame (as well as the blog layout from ^_^