Under Alien Skies

A Sightseer's Guide to the Universe

English language

Published Feb. 13, 2023 by Norton & Company Limited, W. W..

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5 stars (3 reviews)

A rip-roaring tour of the cosmos with the Bad Astronomer, bringing you up close and personal with the universe like never before.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to travel the universe? How would Saturn’s rings look from a spaceship sailing just above them? If you were falling into a black hole, what’s the last thing you’d see before getting spaghettified? While traveling in person to most of these amazing worlds may not be possible—yet—the would-be space traveler need not despair: you can still take the scenic route through the galaxy with renowned astronomer and science communicator Philip Plait.

On this lively, immersive adventure through the cosmos, Plait draws ingeniously on both the latest scientific research and his prodigious imagination to transport you to ten of the most spectacular sights outer space has to offer. In vivid, inventive scenes informed by rigorous science—injected with a dose of …

2 editions

The book to read if you ever wondered how the skies of alien worlds might look like.

5 stars

A wonderful and imaginative trip through the Solar System and beyond as the author, using what we know from astronomy, along with some help from the 'ship of the imagination', to transport the reader to see what the sky would look like on non-Earth like worlds.

Starting with the moon, the author then brings the reader to Mars, the asteroids and comets, Saturn and Pluto. Moving beyond the solar system, the author shows what the sky would look like to an observer on a planet with two suns (like Star Wars' Tatooine), in a globular cluster with millions of closely packed stars and inside a nebula creating new stars. The final journey would be to a mind-twisting look at the last sky you would see if you were to go near and then enter the event horizon of a black hole.

If you ever wondered how alien skies could look …

Fun and informative, melding sci-fi with the science behind it.

5 stars

A fun look at what it would be like to visit other planets or star systems, weaving together sci-fi scenarios, the science behind them, and the history of how those discoveries were made.

It starts with worlds we know the most about -- our moon and Mars, where we have plenty of direct measurements and photos from the surface -- and works its way out through asteroids, gas giants and their moons, and finally Pluto.

The second half of the book delves into more speculative situations. Types of places we know exist, like star clusters and nebulas and different types of stars. Plait links these to specific locations where possible. We know a system of planets exists around the red dwarf star TRAPPIST-1, for instance, and we have a rough idea of how big, how far, and how fast the planets are that we've spotted so far. From there he …

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5 stars