For the first time, as Ken Croswell lucidly explains, we have demonstrated that the universe at large does in fact possess the four basic astronomical ingredients for life. Moreover, he shows how new space-based and technologically advanced observatories could provide direct detailed images of our new neighbors.
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"Someday, astronomers knew, their great quest to find alien worlds would finally be fulfilled, and the first planets beyond those of the solar system would at last emerge from hiding, hailing a new era of astronomical discovery." It had not occurred to anyone with even the wildest imagination that these first extrasolar planets would be found in 1991 orbiting a pulsar 1,000 light-years away. Ken Croswell gives a remarkably clear exposition of what we know about planets in our solar system and elsewhere, how they are discovered, what kind of people have looked for them, and the exceptional number of embarrassing mistakes they've made--and how many surprises nature has dished out in a discipline that's still very young.Review:
an excellent guide to how far astronomy has come ... Fascinating and worthwhile ( New York Times )
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