Under Alien Skies
A Sightseer's Guide to the Universe
by Philip Plait
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Pub Date 18 Apr 2023 | Archive Date 31 Mar 2023
A rip-roaring tour of the cosmos with the Bad Astronomer, revealing the sky as never seen before—from everywhere but Earth.
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 your spaghettification? What would it be like to visit the faraway places we currently experience only through high-powered telescopes and robotic emissaries? Faster-than-light travel may never be invented, but we can still take the scenic route through the universe with renowned astronomer and science communicator Philip Plait.
On this lively, immersive adventure through the cosmos, Plait draws ingeniously on the latest scientific research to transport readers to ten spectacular sites, from our own familiar Moon to the outer reaches of our solar system and far beyond. Whether strolling through a dust storm under Mars’ butterscotch sky, witnessing the birth of a star, or getting dizzy in a technicolor nebula, Plait is an illuminating, entertaining guide to the most otherworldly views in our universe.
About the Author: Philip Plait is an astronomer, sci-fi dork, TV documentary talking head, and all-around science enthusiast. The author of Bad Astronomy and Death from the Skies!, Plait writes the Bad Astronomy newsletter and lives in Colorado.
"Phil Plait takes us to nearby worlds and star systems far, far away, where we do plenty of exploration, a bit of astronomical science, and a lot of marveling. But it’s the descriptions of your spaceships and suits that will keep you strapped in and reading on. His flights of science fiction fantasy are scientific—and absolutely spectacular. Enjoy the rides." - Bill Nye, CEO, The Planetary Society
"As charming and personal as it is detailed and accurate, Under Alien Skies is a wonderful guide to what we know about the universe and how we know it." - Zach Weinersmith, creator of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and New York Times best-selling co-author of Soonish
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 15 members
Under Alien Skies explores what it might be like to be a tourist on worlds in our solar system and beyond, in a distant future where such travel is possible. Filled with wry humour, and scattered throughout with fictional descriptions of the tourists experience, this is a book that really seeks to transport you.
Plait has a wonderful way of capturing the vast expanse and condensing it into a breathtaking personal experience, weaving current cosmology and universal knowledge into the awe.
Anyone who has difficulty imagining the size and scale of the universe - and the worlds we inhabit it with - will find this book easy to get to grips with and highly engaging. And if you're someone who spends a great deal of time thinking about the vast tract of the known and unknown beyond our solar system, well. There's plenty to both reassure and unnerve you here, too.
Thank you to NetGalley for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Philip Plait takes the reader on an imaginary journey to different locations around the solar system. His descriptions entertain and inform, providing a physics lesson in a bottle, and allow us to see space travel like an intrepid tourist. Plait is so quick-witted and amusing it is easy to forget that this is hard science based on data, rather than the personal travel experiences of the author. Enjoyable and highly recommended. This book is for anyone who loves astrophysics, but not the math.
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