The cover of Rhodri Evans’s new book Astrophotography.
The year is 2016. Why produce a book of astrophotographs, when each day the Internet is rife with uncountable astroimages, many of them photoshopped into oblivion?
Because in this case, the author, astronomer Rhodri Evans of Cardiff University, not only presents a spectacular array of astronomical images, but he delivers a terrific narrative placing the imagery into a marvelous context. The result is that readers of this book get something that is unusual — they receive an entertaining romp through the solar system and through numerous galaxies that lifts the spirit and educates them up to the moment. This is a picture book whose dividends pay off on multiple levels.
The work is Astrophotography: The Most Spectacular Astronomical Images of the Universe (192 pp., hardcover, André Deutsch, London, 2016, £25; ISBN 978–0–233–00501–0). The author presents visual works from 19 ground-based telescopes and 14 spacecraft, weaving the results — which arise from the last decade or two — into a tour of the cosmos that will be enjoyed both by new readers who want an introduction to the universe and by old, experienced observers.
I very much liked seeing an introduction by my old friend Steve Young, publisher of Astronomy Now magazine.
The photo sections that follow, the solar system, Milky Way, Local Group, beyond the Local Group, and extreme distant universe, all present large, colorful imagery printed in a 9-3/8" by 11-1/4" format. Altogether, some 177 images appear in the book, nearly all in color (except when the original image was monochromatic).
I liked Rhodri Evans’s explanations of various scientific concepts and tour of interesting and unusual cosmic objects very much. This is the kind of book that will get used and reused; the depth of information and interest of the narrative means this will not be a coffee table book to be quickly set aside.
Evans and his publisher should be congratulated for a superb work that will entertain and inform.