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Book Sets The Record Straight On Astronomical Myths

Eggs can balance on their ends only at the spring equinox. You can see stars in the daytime from the bottom of a deep well or tall chimney. Polaris, the north star, is the brightest star in the night sky.

These and other misconceptions pertaining to astronomy are debunked in Bad Astronomy, by astronomer and teacher Philip Plait, a.k.a. "The Bad Astronomer."

Bad Astronomy offers lively, clear explanations of the most widely held astronomy myths and misperceptions, from why the sky appears blue to the reason we have seasons.

Plait gives readers examples of bad astronomy at home, then journeys to the outer reaches of the universe and back again to discuss various misperceptions, as well as space hoaxes and frauds.

He offers scientific explanations for a variety of astronomy-related questions and phenomena, including:

Why the moon looks larger when on the horizon;

Why stars (and planets) twinkle and why stars are not white but many different hues;

Why astrology doesn`t work;

Why small meteors are cold, not hot, when they hit the ground.

The first book in a Wiley series devoted to "bad science," Bad Astronomy clarifies misconceptions involving the Hubble Space Telescope, the Apollo moon landing and the Great Planetary Alignment of 2000.

The book also provides "The Top-Ten Examples of Bad Astronomy in Major Motion Pictures," along with topics pertaining to creationism, astrology and UFOs.

An ideal accompaniment for International Astronomy Day (April 20), Bad Astronomy promises readers a welcome dose of good science as they learn the facts about dozens of essential astronomical events and phenomena.

"It's dangerous to be ignorant about science. Our lives and our livelihoods depend on it. Science is what makes our houses warm, our cars go, and our cell phones ring," writes Plait.

Philip Plait, Ph.D., works in the physics and astronomy department at Sonoma State University in California. His website has been cited as a source for clear astronomy information by, among other outlets, The New York Times, NASA, and CNN.com.

Plait writes an astronomy column for the German paper, Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, has written for the Encyclopedia Britannica Yearbook of Science, and is a contributing editor to Astronomy magazine's website. He appears frequently on local and national news programs to discuss astronomy, including Fox News, CNN and TechTV.

02-Apr-2002

 

 

 

 

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