I’ve long been a fan of science, astrology, geology and so on. One of my favourite books is ‘Stargazer – The Life and Times of the Telescope’ written by an Australian Astronomer named Fred Watson.
Fred is one of the leading astronomers in the world and played a key role in the development of optic fibres. He’s appeared on radio and TV (most recently on ‘The Project’) and written prolifically in a style that the layman can clearly understand.
Fred Watson, Astronomer. Image courtesy of gronk / Wikimedia Commons
It’s a beautiful, compact book first published by Allen & Unwin in 2004. I was thrilled to find a copy in perfect condition at a local thrift store for two dollars! The newer edition has a different look but I like the older-style illustration on my copy.
Fred takes us through the history of the telescope starting around five hundred years ago with the first crude invention by Galileo to the massively powerful ones of today.
Sample Page - Image by Colmo
He explains in detail how optic lenses work and how sites for observatories are specifically chosen. He even includes a glossary explaining every scientific term used throughout the book.
Of course no book about the telescope would be complete without a reference to the Hubble, which, despite its glitches and inflated operating bill was a forerunner of its kind. Fred wraps up with his predictions for the future of the telescope and space research.
Illustrations - Image by Colmo
While the book becomes a little cumbersome and plodding in parts, overall Fred manages to inspire the interest of even the most science-illiterate person - namely me.