Why Is Uranus Upside Down?: And other questions about the Universe

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Allen & Unwin, Oct 1, 2007 - Science - 272 pages
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Have you ever wondered what dark matter is or why galaxies collide? Or why the Moon is gradually drifting away from Earth? Space is really, really big, as Douglas Adams once pointed out, and there is no better guide to it than Fred Watson, astronomer to the stars.

Fred Watson has taken the many, many questions that have been asked by listeners of his popular, long-running radio shows, and answered them in Why Is Uranus Upside Down?

* How can you identify the constellations?

* Does the Earth wobble?

* Could you dump nuclear waste into the Sun?

* What makes planets round?

* Where's the nearest black hole?

* Are there other universes?

* Can we ever know everything?

This highly entertaining and informative introduction to our planet and the Universe we live in is a must-read for enquiring minds of all ages.

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Why Is Uranus Upside Down?

User Review  - Thorpe-Bowker and Contributors - Books+Publishing

Have you ever looked to the night sky and asked the questions why do stars twinkle? What's outside the universe? What are shooting stars? And is there life elsewhere in the solar system? Well, you're ... Read full review


1 Radio astronomy The news from the rest of the Universe
2 Stargazing Astronomy telescopes and observatories
3 Running like clockwork The mechanisms of planet earth
4 Out of thin air Light and the atmosphere
5 Wouldbe spacefarers Humankind tackles the final frontier
6 Green cheese no longer Earths essential companion
7 More than just eight planets The new solar system
8 Starstruck Our galaxy from the inside
9 Across the universe The realm of galaxies
10 Industrial strength astronomy Cosmology and basic physics
11 CCosmic loose ends Some really interesting questions
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Page 157 - Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts compared to space.
Page 88 - ' artificial satellite ' ' at the correct distance from the earth would make one revolution every 24 hours; ie, it would remain stationary above the same spot and would be within optical range of nearly half the earth's surface. Three repeater stations, 120 degrees apart in the correct orbit, could give television and microwave coverage to the entire planet.
Page 88 - I'm afraid this isn't going to be of the slightest use to our post war planners, but I think is the ultimate solution to the problem.' Following that short letter he wrote a more extensive paper on 25 May 1945 entitled 'The space station: its radio applications...
Page 56 - Neap tides occur when the Sun and Moon are at right angles to the Earth.
Page 116 - ... great deal from place to place, and this quality tends to limit the utility of the Stereographic projection. Gnomonic. The gnomonic or central projection has the useful property that great circles are straight lines, even though this projection has large distortions of size and shape. Since the arc of a great circle is the shortest distance between two points on a sphere, the gnomonic projection is especially valuable as a navigation aid. This projection also is useful for plotting seismic and...
Page 118 - The only thing you can see from the moon is a beautiful sphere — mostly white (clouds), some blue (ocean), patches of yellow (deserts), and every once in a while some green vegetation. No man-made object is visible on this scale. In fact, when first leaving earth's orbit and only a few thousands miles away, no man-made object is visible at that point, either.
Page 90 - ... single dipole, and not an array which would concentrate all the power on the earth. Such an array would have a gain over a simple dipole of about 80. The power required for the broadcast service would thus be about 1.2 kW. Ridiculously small though it is, this figure is probably much too generous. Small parabolas about a foot in diameter would be used for receiving at the earth end and would give a very good signal/ noise ratio. There would be very little interference, partly because of the frequency...
Page 183 - The most generally adopted assumption is the "cosmological principle"— that the universe has the same general character as seen from any point *A parsec is the distance at which the radius of the earth's orbit around the sun subtends an angle of one second of arc. It approximately equals 3 X 10
Page 166 - ... the second magnitude ; and so on down to the sixth magnitude, which comprises the smallest stars visible to the naked eye in the clearest night ; though there are' but few eyes that can distinguish those which belong to the sixth magnitude.

About the author (2007)

Professor Fred Watson is astronomer in charge of the Anglo-Australian Observatory at Coonabarabran and is a regular broadcaster on ABC radio, where he has his own weekly program with a large following. In 2003, Fred received the David Allen Prize for communicating astronomy to the public, and in 2006 was the winner of the Australian Government Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science. Fred has an asteroid named after him but says that if it hits the Earth it won't be his fault . . . His last book for Allen + Unwin was Stargazer.

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