Review of Revealing the Heart of the Galaxy: The Milky Way and Its Black Hole by Bob Sanders

Phillip Helbig

The Observatory, 134, 1240, 146–148 (June 2014)

This is a book review of Revealing the Heart of the Galaxy: The Milky Way and Its Black Hole by Bob Sanders. The book is not a technical monograph, but is slightly more technical than most popular-astronomy books; even readers familiar with the subject will probably learn something new but at the same time the book is accessible to a general audience. This is essentially a narrative which takes place during the last 100 years or so, a large part of this in the Netherlands; here Sanders has lived and worked for about a third of this time, namely at the Kapteyn Institute in Groningen. The book is about the discovery of the size and shape of the Milky Way and our position within it (in which radio astronomy, a Dutch tradition, played a large rôle) as well as our increasing knowledge about the centre itself; general information on black holes and active galactic nuclei is included as well. Some chapters end with a section of historical summary or philosophical reflections, both often concerned with the way in which new ideas gain acceptance in astronomy, with examples from the main narrative. These support the view of science as a self-correcting enterprise where the correct views win out in the end. The book is well written and seasons the scientific narrative with about the right amount of personal commentary. I enjoyed reading the book and recommend it.

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