Review of Light after Dark I: Structures of the Sky by C. Francis

Phillip Helbig

The Observatory, 137, 1259, 187–189 (August 2017)


This is a book review of Light after Dark I: Structures of the Sky by Charles Francis. The book is concerned mainly with cosmological structure formation, galaxy formation, the Milky Way (especially the distance to the centre), and Galactic and galactic dynamics (with an emphasis on spiral structure). The level of detail also varies greatly; some chapters are just brief summaries of a broad topic, while others go into detail in a subfield, often one in which the author has published. Although he does alert the reader to the fact, on many occasions the author contradicts established knowledge on a topic: cosmological structure formation, density-wave theory, etc. While in general this is fine in itself, and sometimes even necessary, I see many problems with it in the context of this book. More serious are non-mainstream claims in cosmology---not because they are not mainstream, but because they are wrong, and the text provides no indication that the author has some deeper understanding on these topics or that experts in the field have seriously overlooked something. It is obvious that the author has a good understanding of many aspects of astronomy, much of the book is rather conventional, and some parts that are not are might even present something important; by concentrating on what he does well could have been much more productive.


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