Review of 50 Astronomy Ideas You Really Need to Know by Giles Sparrow

Phillip Helbig

The Observatory, 137, 1256, 30–31 (February 2017)

This is a book review of 50 Astronomy Ideas You Really Need to Know by Giles Sparrow. One shouldn't judge a book by its cover or, as in this case, its title. One might be forgiven for thinking that this is merely a collection of recycled factoids of little use for anything but a pub quiz, but, far from it, this is a truly excellent introduction to astronomy. It covers about the same material as an undergraduate astronomy text, and despite the lack of equations nothing is dumbed down. The text is up to date, mentioning pebble accretion, the multiverse, the Nice model, ice giants, quark stars, and exoplanets. Good popular-science books need to be clear without dumbing down while still providing enough detail to be more than just a superficial description. This book exceeds on both counts, and is an excellent introduction for those wanting a good but non-mathematical introduction to all of astronomy.

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