• Starlight Detectives

  • How Astronomers, Inventors, and Eccentrics Discovered the Modern Universe
  • By: Alan Hirshfeld
  • Narrated by: Joe Barrett
  • Length: 13 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 12-09-14
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • 4 out of 5 stars 4.0 (200 ratings)

Regular price: $24.95

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free.
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price.
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love.
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel.
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month.
Select or Add a new payment method

Buy Now with 1 Credit

By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Buy Now for $24.95

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Add to Library for $0.00

By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

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.
©2014 Alan Hirshfeld (P)2014 Audible Inc.
Show More Show Less

Critic Reviews

"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)
Show More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Zachary Adams on 05-26-15

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.

Read More Hide me

18 of 21 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Jeff Parry on 08-17-15

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?


Read More Hide me

13 of 18 people found this review helpful

See all Reviews

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By @deftly_admiral on 03-16-18

Good stories let down by ghastly narration.

What did you like best about Starlight Detectives? What did you like least?

Human stories are interesting and engaging. The technical aspects of telescopes are reasonably covered, and I would like to have heard more about the astrophysics that was discovered.

The narration is the worst I have ever heard on any audiobook.

What didn’t you like about Joe Barrett’s performance?

Breathless delivery, all throat and croaking, trying to insert passion into the wrong parts of sentences, which he only partially understands.

Just when you have managed to ignore the incessant breathiness and concentrate on the story, the narrator starts trying what he believes are accents.

My god, the accents.

It is difficult to listen to the letters of an English astronomer when they are voiced by someone apparently doing an impression of Dick van Dyke who has picked up vowels from Yorkshire, Memphis and Mumbai.

Read More Hide me
See all Reviews