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Unveiling Galaxies
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Target online publication date: October 2017
  • Print publication year: 2017
  • Online ISBN: 9781108261104
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    • Online ISBN: 9781108261104
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Book description

Galaxies are known as the building blocks of the universe, but arriving at this understanding has been a thousand-year odyssey. This journey is told through the lens of the evolving use of images as investigative tools. Initial chapters explore how early insights developed in line with new methods of scientific imaging, particularly photography. The volume then explores the impact of optical, radio and x-ray imaging techniques. The final part of the story discusses the importance of atlases of galaxies; how astronomers organised images in ways that educated, promoted ideas and pushed for new knowledge. Images that created confusion as well as advanced knowledge are included to demonstrate the challenges faced by astronomers and the long road to understanding galaxies. By examining developments in imaging, this text places the study of galaxies in its broader historical context, contributing to both astronomy and the history of science.


Advance praise:'As one of the world’s leading astronomers, Jean-René Roy provides us with an insightful and readable account of the use of images to distinguish between deep-sky objects, such as nebulae and galaxies. What makes this an exceptional work is the level to which Roy, as a practitioner, engages with historians of science in developing his rich account. This engagement leads to a unique book, one that will be indispensable to understanding the significant role played by images in the history of twentieth century science.'

Omar Nasim - Universität Regensburg, Bavaria

Advance praise:'Unveiling Galaxies examines the role of ‘transformational images’ in the history of astronomy. Images are a tool of discovery, and this book brings attention to the ground-breaking images behind some of the greatest discoveries in astronomy. The book also highlights the role of galaxy atlases in astronomy as well as the lives of the people who made these images and how their work impacted the progress of astronomy. I found that telling the story of the discovery of galaxies by focussing on iconic images is an excellent approach to the subject. Unveiling Galaxies is informative, well-written, and well-researched, and provides a superb read of the process of discovery in science.'

Ronald J. Buta - University of Alabama

Advance praise:'In this beautifully clear, reflective, and almost non-mathematical book, Jean-René Roy explains how we came to understand that galaxies are the building blocks of the universe. Roy is an accomplished galaxy researcher who takes us on this long and fascinating journey with its many challenges, from the perspective of developments in scientific imaging of galaxies. The story is based on images, starting with sketches of galaxies made from visual observations in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The book describes how the gradual improvement in the quality of the images led to the understanding that galaxies are very distant objects, lying far outside the Milky Way.'

Kenneth Freeman - The Australian National University

Advance praise:'Roy’s unique contribution goes beyond tracing the development of making images of galaxies to examine their compilation into atlases. Roy’s underlying motivation for this work is personal; his own exploration of a gift of an atlas of galaxies sparked his interest in science and astronomy. With the descriptions of the characters who contributed to the progress of understanding galaxies the author reminds us that science is a human activity. This book touches on the highlights of how images proceeded from eye and hand to photographic and lately electronic record.'

Nancy Levenson - Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore


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