Starlight Detectives

  • by Alan Hirshfeld
  • Narrated by Joe Barrett
  • 13 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In 1929, Edwin Hubble announced the greatest discovery in the history of astronomy since Galileo first turned a telescope to the heavens. The galaxies, previously believed to float serenely in the void, are in fact hurtling apart at an incredible speed: the universe is expanding. This stunning discovery was the culmination of a decades-long arc of scientific and technical advancement. In its shadow lies an untold, yet equally fascinating, backstory whose cast of characters illuminates the gritty, hard-won nature of scientific progress.
The path to a broader mode of cosmic observation was blazed by a cadre of 19th-century amateur astronomers and inventors, galvanized by the advent of photography, spectral analysis, and innovative technology to create the entirely new field of astrophysics. From William Bond, who turned his home into a functional observatory, to John and Henry Draper, a father and son team who were trailblazers of astrophotography and spectroscopy, to geniuses of invention such as Lon Foucault and George Hale, who founded the Mount Wilson Observatory, Hirshfeld reveals the incredible stories and the ambitious dreamers behind the birth of modern astronomy.


What the Critics Say

"A masterful balance of science, history and rich narrative." (Discover magazine)
"Hirshfeld tells this climactic discovery of the expanding universe with great verve and sweep, as befits a story whose scope, characters and import leave most fiction far behind." (Wall Street Journal)
"Starlight Detectives is just the sort of richly veined book I love to read full of scientific history and discoveries, peopled by real heroes and rogues, and told with absolute authority. Alan Hirshfeld's wide, deep knowledge of astronomy arises not only from the most careful scholarship, but also from the years he's spent at the telescope, posing his own questions to the stars" (Dava Sobel, author of A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos and Longitude)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Experience the discovery of most of the universe.

Extraordinarily well written!! Perfect balance of technical and human storytelling. A must read for anyone interested in astronomy. Easily read and enjoyed by non-technical savy y listeners.
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- Zachary Adams

Telescopes, cameras and Spectographs

What made the experience of listening to Starlight Detectives the most enjoyable?

I found the history of the characters behind the evolution of the telescope and the camera the most interesting. Although the story behind the spectrograph was surprisingly well told. The reader is perfect.

What other book might you compare Starlight Detectives to and why?


Which scene was your favorite?

Louis Daguerre and the invention of the camera. The history behind the modern and old observatories.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?


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- Jeff Parry

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-09-2014
  • Publisher: Audible Studios