Shrouds of the Night

Masks of the Milky Way and Our Awesome New View of Galaxies

Authors: Block, David L., Freeman, Kenneth

  • A lot of historical material which has never been published before – such as material from the Lowell Observatory in Arizona and the archives of the Royal Astronomical Society of London
  • Pioneering astronomical photographs by Roberts, Barnard, Keeler and others; many of these are available to the general public for the first time
  • Our dust penetrated cosmos: results have been published in many technical journals, but these again will be made accessible to the general reader for the first time
  • The reader is taken to the cutting edge of our knowledge about galaxies where the authors explore major new challenges and concepts facing the astronomical community today
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Buy this book

eBook $29.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-0-387-78975-0
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $39.95
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-0-387-78974-3
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Online orders shipping within 2-3 days.
About this book

The Milky Way has captivated the mind of multitudes ever since the beginning of time. Particularly striking are its apparent dusty gaping voids. With the advent of near-infrared technology, astronomers have discovered an awesome new view of its structure, and of the structure of other galaxies around us. Galaxies are encased within shrouds of the night: shrouds or veils of cosmic dust, which have given us a totally incomplete picture of what our majestic Universe actually looks like.

Shrouds of the Night features some of the  most remarkable early photographic work of masters such as Isaac Roberts and Edward Barnard, before presenting to the reader the unmasked (dust penetrated) view of our cosmos, using some of the world’s largest ground and space-based telescopes.

"Galaxies are the 'ecosystems' of the cosmos – vast assemblages in which gas and dust are recycled through successive generations of stars. The authors of this beautiful book describe our ever-sharpening view of the Milky Way, the galaxy that is our home – and the discovery of the other galaxies that are its neighbors in deep space. Their voyage lies not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. In fine images and eloquent text, the two distinguished authors convey the fascination – indeed the inspiration – of this scientific quest."

-Lord Martin Rees of Ludlow OM Kt PRS
Astronomer Royal, President of the Royal Society, Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics, University of Cambridge.

"It's hard to decide what is most appealing about this unusual offering:
its brilliantly chosen treasury of illustrations, or the text's poetic
journey of discovery from smoke to galaxies, from the minuscule to the
gigantic and the astonishing connections between them.  Along the path are
rich insights into the varieties of astronomical seeing, from the history
of photography to the space telescopes that extend our vision beyond the
visible.  Historical connections are everywhere, from Jean Petit's
16th-century woodblock initials to excursions into a stately attic and to
photographic archives.  Enjoy the treat, including the reflections on the
deep meaning of it all!"

-Owen Gingerich
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, author of God's Universe

About the authors

David Block is Director of the Anglo American Cosmic Dust Laboratory and Professor of Computational and Applied Mathematics at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He has been a visiting astronomer at the European Southern Observatory, the Institute of Astronomy (Hawaii) and the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard University. His research has twice been featured on the cover of the journal "Nature" and he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society of London at age 19.

Ken Freeman FRS is Duffield Professor of Astronomy at the Australian National University. He was a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, Oort Professor at Leiden University, Blaauw Professorat the University of Groningen and Tinsley Professor at the University of Texas. He is one of the first astronomers to show that spiral galaxies are immersed in a vast halo of dark matter, and is one of Australia’s most highly cited scientists.

Reviews

From the reviews:

"The authors research dark subjects … and in this book, they present images and data to help readers understand what’s going on within galaxies. … Shrouds of the Night takes you on a whirlwind tour of astronomy photograph history right up to present-day digital imaging. … Present-day astronomical and cultural images make Shrouds of the Night a fascinating read." (Michael Bakich, Astronomy, March, 2009)

"This is a beautiful large format book … written by two astronomers who have each spent a life time studying ‘dark matter’. … This is a ‘must-have’ book for those interested in the history of astronomy, and an ideal gift for any young aspiring astronomer." (Colin Montgomery, Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, Vol.12 (1), 2009)

"Block … and Freeman (Australian National Univ.) have produced a coffee-table-style book with glorious photographs. Many photos are in color and for the most part cover the Milky Way and other galaxies. … This is a work for those with an eye for details in celestial views. It is … appreciating the gain in imaging today over early photography and drawings of the same objects. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels of undergraduate students, practitioners, and general readers." (A. R. Upgren, Choice, Vol. 46 (10), June, 2009)

"This book, subtitled Masks of the Milky Way and Our Awesome New View of Galaxies, is essentially a chronology of astronomical photography from 1826 to the present day. … The strength of the book is in the consistency of recalling famous astronomers and their observations, which in turn showcases compelling visual evidence. … this book is excellent … ." (Ian McClurg-Welland, Astronomy Now, September, 2009)

“Shrouds of the night is a very entertaining and appealing coffee-table book about the astronomical quest to penetrate the obscuring veils of cosmic dust in an effort to unmask the true structure of galaxies. The book is aimed at a non-specialist audience … . Readers … will find a bounty of interesting material here. … Overall the book is a terrific read. The collection of historically interesting and important photographs, drawings and illustrations is well worth the price of the volume … .” (Charles J. Lada, Journal for the History of Astronomy, May, 2010)

“First-time visitors to any science-based book about space should be able to pick it up and immediately find themselves introduced to …  the sky and beyond. That is what … Australia’s most eminent astronomers has been able to achieve with his new book … . use simple, well written and jargon-free language throughout … . If you have ever lost yourself in a cathedral of stars or been lucky enough to view any of the planets … through a telescope you will enjoy this book.” (Lloyd Gorman, Post, August, 2010)


“‘Shrouds of the night’ sounds like the title for some supernatural mystery. But when you open up David Block and Kenneth Freeman's big new book you find... Well, a supernatural mystery. […] Not another photo compilation - but a history, a celebration, and a score or more of quite luminous speculations. It’s a look far out in space, and back in time, and deep inside ourselves and our capacity for inquiry and wonder. Our greatest scientific minds share its pages with our most suggestive literary voices. And such is its subject and its coauthors’ own imaginative powers, that it rises not infrequently to the level of poetry itself. It is no surprise those you would expect to find in a book like this - Einstein and Newton, Copernicus and Galileo, Kepler and Hawking - all make their appearance, but it is quite a surprise, and a delight to hear from T.S. Eliot and Samuel Beckett, Mark Twain and Albert Camus, Tagore and Proust as well, and to take a trip not only to Andromeda, but also to New Guinea, and to gaze upon the moon in Africa. A creation of many parts, you might think. Yet like creation Itself, a harmonious whole.” (Richard Kaplan of the Harvard Coop book shop)

Table of contents (15 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $29.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-0-387-78975-0
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $39.95
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-0-387-78974-3
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Online orders shipping within 2-3 days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Shrouds of the Night
Book Subtitle
Masks of the Milky Way and Our Awesome New View of Galaxies
Authors
Copyright
2008
Publisher
Springer-Verlag New York
Copyright Holder
Springer-Verlag New York
eBook ISBN
978-0-387-78975-0
DOI
10.1007/978-0-387-78975-0
Hardcover ISBN
978-0-387-78974-3
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XX, 436
Number of Illustrations and Tables
184 b/w illustrations, 20 illustrations in colour
Topics