Four centuries ago, Galileo first turned a telescope to look up at the night sky. His discoveries opened the cosmos, revealing the geometry and dynamics of the solar system. Today's telescopic equipment, stretching over the whole spectrum from visible light to radio and millimetre astronomy, through infrared to ultraviolet, X-rays and gamma rays, has again transformed our understanding of the whole Universe. In this book Francis Graham-Smith explains how this technology can be engaged to give us a more in-depth picture of the nature of the universe. Looking at both ground-based telescopes and telescopes on spacecraft, he analyses their major discoveries, from planets and pulsars to cosmology. Large research teams and massive data handling are necessary, but the excitement of discovery is increasingly shared by a growing public, who can even join in some of the analysis by remote computer techniques. Observational astronomy has become international. All major projects are now partnerships; most notably the Square Kilometre Array, which will involve astronomers from over 100 countries and will physically exist in several of them.
Covering the history and development of telescopes from Galileo to the present day, Eyes on the Sky traces what happens when humankind looks up.
Sir Francis Graham Smith is a distinguished pioneer of radio astronomy. He was President of the Royal Astronomical Society from 1975 to 1977, and was appointed Director of the Royal Greenwich Observatory in 1976, where he was involved in setting up the Northern Hemisphere Observatory on the island of La Palma in the Canary Island. He was the thirteenth Astronomer Royal, serving from 1982 to 1990, and Physical Secretary and Vice-President of the Royal Society from 1988 to 1994. Awards for his work include the Royal Medal of the Royal Society (1987) and a knighthood in 1986. He also written several books, most recent of which is Unseen Cosmos, on the story of radio astronomy, published by OUP in 2014.
1: Galileo opens the sky 2: The big reflecting telescopes 3: How to build bigger telescopes 4: Stretching the spectrum: Infrared and ultraviolet. 5: Into Space 6: X-rays 7: Gamma rays and cosmic rays 8: Radio telescopes 9: Pairs and arrays 10: Millimetre waves and spectral lines 11: Opening the cosmos 12: Then, now, and tomorrow Further reading Index