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Secrets of the Universe

How We Discovered the Cosmos

Paul Murdin


The compelling story of mankind's quest through the ages to unlock the scientific secrets of our universe


In an age of unprecedented astronomical discovery, world-renowned astronomer Paul Murdin tells the stories of the men and women who first revealed the shape of the Earth, the existence of Pluto, the principles of relativity and cosmic marvels such as black holes and interstellar nebulae. Their findings revolutionized our view of the Universe, our planet, the stars that shine in the night sky and the vastness of space beyond it. Murdin explains clearly the science behind these great discoveries, along with the passions, struggles and quirks of fate that made for some of the most intriguing human dramas of their times.

With more than 500 stunning illustrations from historic prints and paintings to the latest satellite photography, and including specially commissioned artworks, the discoveries described demonstrate how ingenuity, technological innovation and occasionally pure serendipity have expanded our knowledge of the Universe beyond anything we could ever have imagined.

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'Beautifully produced … an up-to-date picture of astronomy and just how we got where we are today …delightfully illustrated with a stunning array of images, crammed with fascinating facts and figures'
Observatory Magazine

'I recommend it to all astronomers - amateur and professional - and interested general readers'
Journal of the British Astronomical Association

'This book will not be read in a day or even a week but it will provide good reading for some considerable time … and I can do no more than strongly recommend it'
Astronomy Now

'Excellent value for money, this book would be a marvellous addition for any secondary school or college library'
The School Librarian

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Further Details


Format: PLC (with jacket)

Size: 27.0 x 21.4 cm

Extent: 342 pp

Illustrations: 582

Publication date: 26 October 2009

ISBN: 9780500251553

Contents List

Introduction • Discoveries Before the Telescope • Discoveries in the Solar System • Discoveries of the Dynamic Universe • Discoveries of Our Galaxy and Its Stars • Discoveries of the Universe and Its Galaxies Future Discoveries

About the Author

Paul Murdin, OBE, is the author of The Secret Lives of Planets. He has worked as an astronomer in the UK, the USA, Australia and Spain, and discovered the first stellar black hole, Cygnus X1. He is a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, former president of the European Astronomical Society and Senior Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge. In 2012 Asteroid 128562 was named ‘Murdin’ by the IAU in honour of his contributions to the field.