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Stargazer: The Life and Times of the Telescope
by Fred Watson
The telescope is undoubtedly one of the world's most far-reaching inventions. For the past four centuries the telescope has stood at the forefront of human discovery. From its humble beginnings in seventeenth-century Holland, when a simple spectacle-maker first presented his invention to his country's military leaders, to today's colossal structures housed in space-age cat ...more
Hardcover, 360 pages
Published July 12th 2005 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
Aug 30, 2012 Tim Martin rated it really liked it · review of another edition
_Stargazer: The Life and Times of the Telescope_ by Fred Watson is an epic, far-ranging history of one of the most important instruments in science. Watson traced the origin and development of the telescope from nearly four hundred years ago, when Dutch craftsmen Hans Lipperhey first brought to the world's attention the telescope in 1608 (the author demonstrated that though he gets credit for first bringing it to international attention, he is perhaps not the instrument's original inventor, as t ...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 liked it · review of another edition
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!