Two titles about the universe by Will Gater and Edwige Pezzulli. Others: – Culture

The snowman is called Arrakoth, is reddish brown and about four and a half billion years old. Since primeval times it has been traversing the edge of the planetary system – there where sunlight can hardly illuminate the eternal night. Nevertheless, a few years ago, the “New Horizons” spacecraft managed to photograph the originally shaped cosmic lump in a fly-by, so to speak. This impressive shot fits well into the gallery of photos that present something like the best of the universe. The opulent selection of images alone justifies the title of the book, because the wonderful world of the stars unfolds before the eyes of the beholder on more than 200 large-format pages. The seas of the moon appear, the volcanoes of Venus or the filigree cirrus of exploded suns. Farther out in space are the glowing pinwheels of galaxies, the first ever image of a black hole, and finally the snapshot of the Big Bang’s afterglow. The journey through space follows a pattern that is as simple as it is successful: On each double page, the author Will Gater describes an astronomical object that is shown on photos from large observatories or visualized with simple illustrations. The texts are written in a way that is easy to understand, and despite their brevity they get to the heart of the essential information and do not overwhelm even those children who are encountering the wonders of the universe for the first time with the book. But even experienced readers will come across something surprising and exciting in each of the hundred or so stations – such as dust devils sweeping across the surface of Mars, or a stellar zombie in which the matter is so densely packed that the sand-sized piece of such a neutron star would weigh around 550,000 tons on Earth. Highlights from the history of research and a detailed glossary round off the book, which comes across as quite dignified with its attractive cover and gold edging. (from 8 years)

The book with the simple title “The Universe” also shows that astronomy is currently becoming a little more feminine.

Like many other natural sciences, astronomy is primarily shaped by men. That is about to change, with more and more scientific publications bearing the names of women. And in 2020, the Nobel Prize in Physics went to the American Andrea Ghez, among others, for her measurements in the center of our Milky Way. The book with the simple title “The Universe” also shows that astronomy is currently becoming a little more feminine. In it, six female astrophysicists invite you to a “walk through the mysteries of the universe”. The conclusion right away: the team does an excellent job of inspiring not only young people to the fascination and magic of the starry world. The mixture of stimulating factual narration, practical tips for your own observations and experiments as well as the wonderful, sometimes large-scale illustrations by Alice Beniero provides astonishingly deep insights into current astronomical research, but also into the rich history of this science. A young girl appears as the fictitious narrator, whose sister is an astrophysicist and can explain even the most complicated connections in a brilliantly simple way. For example, the question of how everything began around 13.8 billion years ago, about light as a messenger of the universe, about the life of the stars, distant Milky Ways, planets or the search for extraterrestrial life. Anyone who is now passionate about astronomy will find links to websites and a list of apps and computer programs at the end.

What makes the book special are the interspersed digressions on the biographies of successful female researchers. Here it becomes clear once again that “hard” physics does not have to be just a man’s thing. Finally, there are the sensitive little poems by Silvia Vecchini, which stimulate reflections on God and the world and give the extraordinary book a poetic lightness. In any case, the collective of authors adopted a quote from Marie Curie and chose it as their motto to start with: “You don’t have to fear anything in life, you just have to understand everything.” (from 12 years)

Will Gater: Wonderful World of Stars. Illustrated by Daniel Long and Angela Rizza. Translated from the English by Birgit Reit. DK Verlag, 2021,225 pages, 19.95 euros.

Edwige Pezzulli and others The universe. A walk through the mysteries of the universe. Illustrated by Alice Beniereo. Translated from the Italian by Ulrike Schimmig. Carlsen Verlag, 2021. 216 pages, 22 euros.

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