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Stairway to the Stars: The Story of the World's Largest Observatory cover
  • ISBN: 9780306447631
  • ISBN10: 0306447630

Stairway to the Stars: The Story of the World's Largest Observatory

by Parker, Barry A

  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Plenum Publishing Corporation
  • Publish date: 09/01/1994
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Description
On the desolate, snow-topped peak of the highest mountain in Hawaii the view of the heavens is truly breathtaking. Since the "discovery" of Mauna Kea in 1963, astronomers worldwide have been vying for the opportunity to stargaze from its vantage point. Nine domes now stand on the peak, making this the world's largest observatory complex. Each dome is the brainchild of extraordinary scientists - pioneers who, amidst fierce competition and frigid, treacherous conditions - fought for their dreams to build the largest, most magnificent telescopes on Earth. Barry Parker, award-winning science writer, relates the intriguing stories of the founding of this observatory complex and goes on to interview some of the great astronomers of our time as they work at this inspiring site. Bringing the public for the first time into the rarefied air of the control rooms, Parker describes what marvelous challenges these astronomers pursue, night after night, through these massive telescopes. Using brilliant, colorful images from the world's most powerful infrared telescopes and data taken by the enormous Keck telescope - the largest in the world - the scientists at Mauna Kea capture visions of the most distant galaxies ever seen, and use them to look deeply into our past to try to determine our future. Through imagination and genius, the scientists at Mauna Kea have made significant strides in formulating answers to the most fascinating astronomical questions. What can the exploding galaxies in the outer reaches of space tell us about our universe in its infancy? Could the enormous black holes at the cores of galaxies actually be "seeds", central to forming these vast systems of stars? Will our universe,like a dying star, come to an end, and, if so, what dramatic events will lead to this fate? Parker clearly and eloquently explains the theories of these astronomers and describes one of their most ambitious efforts-the quest of finding life in other galaxies. Parker, whose earlier work The New York Times Book Review called "physics for poets", has penned a new masterpiece. This unforgettable book evokes the excitement of living and working at this exquisite site and dares us to imagine the awesome forces that power and shape our universe.
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Hippo Books

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