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Stargazer: The Life and Times of the Telescope
by Fred Watson
The history of the telescope is a rich story of human ingenuity and perseverance involving some of the most colorful figures of the scientific world- Galileo, Johann Kepler, Isaac Newton, William Herschel, George Ellery Hale, and Edwin Hubble.Stargazer brings to life these brilliant, if sometimes quirky, scientists as they turned their eyes and ideas to the stars. Written ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published June 13th 2006 by Da Capo Press
(first published September 1st 2004)
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This lukewarm history trots along at an even, unexciting tempo, even when it feels like the author was rushing to meet a deadline. We meet and greet many heroes and villains in the story of the telescope, but after 1800 the story becomes a summary. I would have liked even more technical discussion of the science of optics and light. The topic of radio astronomy is only briefly touched upon, and I think this is a missed opportunity for this book. I would have liked greater detail about astronomer ...more
A history of the telescope (and, by extension, astronomy), this book is not skimpy on facts. Dr. Watson knows his stuff. As a non-science person (who is trying to reform her ways), I’m glad I read Couper and Henbest’s History of Astronomy first as it gave me a better foundation on which to understand the information presented in this book. Stargazer is interesting, but, at the end of the day, I still feel like I’m missing some crucial piece of information to better understand the technical aspec ...more
Sep 06, 2010 Converse rated it 3 of 5 stars
Optical telescopes seem to have been invented about 1608 in the Netherlands. At least the things were easy to find after that date, and no earlier examples have been found. Certain textual references earlier than that are not clearly telescopes. Lenses existed over 1000 years earlier, but the focal lengths aren't right for a telescope. Early telescopes were all of the kind that use lenses rather than mirrors to collect light, as a mirror must be shaped much more carefully a lens to bring an imag ...more
I was very surprised by the fact that I actually liked this book. I thought that maybe the subject matter (telescopes) may become a bit dull, and although I did find those parts quite dull - the great writing and the sort of short biographies on some of my favourite astronomers made it very interesting!