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The first half of this book reads as a basic course in Astronomy, reviewing everything from the moon’s phases and the seasons to why the sky is blue. I considered myself educated in the subject before reading Bad Astronomy, but was surprised (embarrassed) by how much I either didn’t know or knew wrong. For the first half alone, I highly recommend this book.
The second half focuses on debunking rather strange claims about Astronomy and science in general. For a lesson in skepticism, I approve, but I can’t say exactly what I got out of it. I already understood that the moon landing was not a hoax and that biblical claims don’t jive with research. If you are on the fence on these subjects or want to debate the crackpot in your life, then all the more reason you should check out Bad Astronomy.
34 of 36 people found this review helpful
Having taken a university course in astronomy and astrophysics I did not expect to learn much from this book. Instead I thought that this would be a good rehearsal of the things I had learned previously. I was therefore surprised, in a good way, that this book taught me many things that I did not know. Even though it only deal with relatively basic concepts in astronomy (the book can really be read by everyone), it goes into a lot of detail and Phil Plait really tries to help the reader grasp the basic concepts.
For instance while I know that there are tides and that they have something to do with the moon, I did not know that there are two tides per day, and why it is so. I also knew that seasons are linked to the angle with which sunlight hits a particular part of earth, but the full story is, as you will learn if you read this book, more complex than that.
As Phil Plait writes in this book, many people seem to know things that aren’t true, and astronomy is no exception to this. Journalists and movie directors should take some blame for this given that they promote astrology ahead of astronomy and given that movies all too frequently get the science all wrong. The reader of this book will enhance their bullshit detector when it comes to sci-fi movies, and who doesn’t love the person who points out all the errors in a movie :). Just to take one example, space ships cannot make sounds in space because there is no molecules that sound can propagate through...
This book is for people who know nothing about astronomy and for those who think they know everything about astronomy.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
The egg story is a small and early tale. He also sheds light on asteroids, the moon illusions and stuff they get wrong in movies. I was a bit disappointed in the narration as it set something of a dull tone, but maybe because I know the author's voice.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
After first chapter I almost returned the book as everything described was of so little value to me (I'm in science, but not astronomy). But later I realised that author was building a ground work for layman and that chapter played an important role in the book.
There was a lot of interesting chapters (and funny too), and there were a few I did not like. But overall very good information described and I picked up a few new facts for myself. I even re-listened to a couple of chapters - very nice!
I love this sort of book. Very educational and presented in layman' terms.
The reader was a little stiff and it's annoyingly that the chapters are listed as numbers without titles. Also, the numbers don't match what the reader references.
Recommend it, though.