Voyager: 101 Wonders between Earth and the Edge of the Cosmos
by Stuart Clark
Atlantic Books, 2013
Beautiful images abound in books about the depths of space; beautiful words are far more rare. In Voyager, Clark, a veteran astronomy journalist, gives us both, explaining the science behind the most gorgeous vistas from space telescopes and interplanetary probes. The odyssey begins on Earth, before leaping out through the solar system, then to nearby stars, finally to surrounding galaxies and the frontiers of existence itself. What look to be bullets piercing bull's-eye targets are in actuality galaxies plowing into one another; star-forming molecular clouds almost seem to be turbulent swirls of cream against a background of dark coffee. Gemstones scattered across black velvet prove to be clusters of galaxies at the opposite end of the cosmos, and a map of the universe's largest structures is the spitting image of microscopic branching neurons. In Clark's capable hands, the wonders of the night sky become delightfully familiar.