"a feast for the eyes and a banquet for the mind"
--Neil deGrasse Tyson
"the most mind-bending map to date"
"The Map of the Universe
is a stunning achievement..."
About The Book
Based on extraordinary new research into how we view the universe, this groundbreaking book reveals an ingenious way to envision the outsize proportions of space. Sizing Up the Universe reveals the true sizes of objects in the heavens—from Buzz Aldrin's footprint on the Moon to the visible universe and beyond. Princeton University professors Richard Gott and Robert Vanderbei offer comparisons with astonishing precision and maximum reader-friendliness, conveying a clear and understandable assessment of the incredible vastness of space.
With size comparison as a unifying theme, this gorgeous book goes beyond the facts and figures to work as a visual guide to the heavens. It captures a fresh vision of the universe, chronicling exciting recent discoveries: Kuiper belt objects in the solar system, planets orbiting nearby stars, great walls of galaxies, even the hum of creation in the cosmic microwave background radiation.
Chapter One starts with a discussion of the various astronomical objects---planets, stars, nebulae, galaxies, etc.---and how big they appear in the sky. For example, the Moon appears to be fairly large even though it is quite small compared to other astronomical objects.
In Chapter Two, the authors show where the famous objects are. They do this with a collection of innovative star charts based on the so-called gnomonic projection. These charts are unique in that when viewed from an appropriate distance, they show exactly how the night sky looks.
Chapter Three then makes the transition from how big things appear in the sky to how big things actually are. To make the connection, it is important to know how far away the various objects are. This chapter explains how astronomers over the ages cleverly figured out how far away things are.
Chapter Four explains the idea of conformal mapping in the context of making a single map for the entire visible universe. As an unprecedented bonus, this chapter includes an updated version of Gott's magnificent Map of the Universe. Published here for the first time ever in a book, this best-selling chart includes everything from man-made satellites to planets, stars, and galaxies, reproduced in vivid color on a large fold-out to maximize its impact and usefulness.
Chapter Five is devoted to size comparisons in our solar system. For example, the Grand Canyon on Earth is compared in size to the Mariner Valley on Mars.
Chapter Six, the final chapter, steps the reader through various size scales starting with actual everyday-sized things and then, going up by powers of 1000, depicts the interesting objects at ever greater scales all the way up to the entire visible universe.
With its arresting and original way of comparing objects in the heavens, its coverage of stunning recent discoveries, and its breathtaking foldout map, Sizing Up the Universe has universal appeal. It's a great choice for armchair astronomers, students of all ages, science-minded families, and even the most advanced amateur stargazers—all of whom will find thrilling surprises here.