Some people enjoy stargazing out in the vast open air, while others prefer to cozy up at home and leaf through a solid hardcover book full of mystifying images of space. For these armchair astronauts, there’s a brand-new publication that not only includes 128 pages worth of text and photographs of space—it also includes a preface from Bill Nye (the science guy).
Stargazing: Photographs Of The Night Sky From the Archives of NASA is published by Chronicle Books and authored by Nirmala Nataraj, a New York-based writer and editor who wrote the book’s introduction as well as a series of bite-sized blurbs that accompany the images, each one describing the science behind the corresponding photograph as well as the technology used to capture it. The book includes a range of different phenomena, from meteor showers and eclipses to the aurora borealis and beyond.
In one image, viewers are treated to a rare panoramic view of the sky above the earth’s equatorial Pacific, as seen from the International Space Station. Another photograph documents a phenomenon called airglow, which takes place about 60 miles above earth when the upper atmosphere’s particles collide with rays from the sun. An additional photo shows the Andromeda Galaxy, captured by NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer, while yet another image comes from the Hubble Space Telescope and shows a blue galaxy 45 million light-years from Earth.
“It is possible that within a couple of decades, the sights that many of us have been able to enjoy on a clear night will no longer be viewable,” writes Nataraj. “Pristine sky-watching conditions, which have diminished significantly in the last century, may simply become a thing of the past—making the images in this book even more poignant and awe-inspiring.
In the words of Bill Nye, “These NASA photographs of stars, taken from the ground and from the spacecraft built to study them, fill me with admiration and awe. Even photographs of our spacecraft and fire rockets to launch them are amazing. In glance, you get a sense of the remarkable power and thrust required fa send our instruments and astronauts into the darkness.”