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10/25/2010

Two Recommendations: The Hidden Universe and The Constellations: A Guide to the Orchestra

I woke up today to an inch of snow outside and more coming tonight (the inch melted off). Looks like storms until Thursday and Friday and then this weekend. Hopefully my last week off is clear for new moon. I found two items that I am going to share. They won't help your scope, won't help you observe, have nothing to do with the Herschel 400 or a sketch, but they are fun, and I do recommend them.

First is a book called Hidden Universe. Here is its cover:



























Here is a link to the Webpage and off to the right you can actually view a sample from each chapter: Link to Hidden Universe:

This book shows how until the mid 20th century our understanding and our views of the universe were based on the limiting images that our eyes and that photographic plates could reveal. To quote from the web page and not paraphrase:

"this book shows the fundamental change in our perception of the universe by covering the full spectrum of light, emphasising what humans cannot see. Using spectacular colour images constructed from observations with telescopes operating from radio to gamma-ray wavelengths, the book lifts the veil on the hidden universe."
And again to summarize the book I quote the web page:

"This book is divided into nine chapters dealing with various aspects of the unseen Universe. The first three discuss the way we perceive the Universe, using our eyes and with telescopes on the ground and in space. The next five chapters each discuss a wavelength band, starting with the most familiar, visible light, and then moving outwards on each side of the spectrum into the less familiar: infrared, ultraviolet, radio/microwaves and X-rays/gamma rays. In the final chapter we attempt to gather the individual threads of the story into one, somewhat coherent, view of the totality of the multi-wavelength Universe."

I am thoroughly enjoying this book and recommend you check it out from your local library. That is where I found my copy. Sometimes books like this, called coffee table books in the past are good enough that I consider purchasing a copy for myself. A tidbit that I didn't know is that the Sun's (our star, Sol) color would look actually slightly peachy-pink. Our eyes would see this color if they were not blinded by the Sun's bright light (as stated, common sense, but NEVER look directly at the sun). That is found on page 49 of the book.

Another image I really liked was that of the Crab Nebula in Radio. Here is an image, but it doesn't do justice to the one in the book.


































I'll share one more image that is just stunning in the book, and is good here; Remnant Cassiopeia A .






























This is one of my favorite images and is composed of images using infrared data in red by Spitzer Space Telescope; visible data from the Hubble Space Telescope are yellow; and X-ray data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory are green and blue. This perhaps shows how the different sources of light are combined to show us what is really going on from the supernova remnant.


I often go through the music section at the library, and since my home city just opened a new country library branch this Saturday, I knew they would have a lot of new items there including CD's. So I went through the rock section, taking some selections to check out, then the jazz section and finally the classical section. Yup, wide variety of musical taste. In the classical secion I found this wonderful little addition called The Constellation A Guide to the Orchestra by Jonathan Peters. Now don't expect this to be Holst's The Planets. What it does do is introduce the story behind a constellation, and then use specific instruments that are part of the orchestra to portray that story or individual. You can preview it over iTunes preview here . Go to Andromeda to hear a portion of the myth. The first half of the CD has the myth and the orchestra/instrument portion. The second half of the CD is only the instrument portion. Imagine Peter and the Wolf with the Constellations and you are probably along the right way. However, I think it is a great way to introduce kids to both the Orchestra and to the Night Sky in terms of Constellations. As an educator I could see using it to help younger kids to hear a song and then identify the correct constellation by sharing the song with images of the constellation from different positions. Linking music to a constellation shape is a wonderful way to help kids connect and learn constellations (if that is their learning style). It's not for everyone, but I'm buying a copy tomorrow because I see uses for it. Here's the front and back cover so you can see the art and see the constellations they cover (or if you go to the link they are there). I will mention I am not associated with any of the authors or publishers and I don't receive a dime or a penny for reviewing these items. Enjoy.