Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed

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Image Credit: Cristina Gottardi

Astronomy has opened the doors of understanding to the larger universe that surrounds us. It has sparked our curiosity and fueled our drive to explore, and it has led to the discovery of many scientific principles that have had a profound effect on technology and innovation. Unfortunately, astronomy has also inspired a number of myths and misconceptions, some of which have proven to be very damaging. Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing “Hoax”, despite being mouthful of a title, seeks to debunk, explain and put aside these myths and misconceptions once and for all.

Written by Phil Plait, the work is a nonfiction book that helps to clear the air surrounding many conspiracy theories, mistruths and outright lies about astronomy. The book also delves into how mankind views space both with the naked eye and with devices like telescopes. Plait is more than qualified to broach such topics, as he holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Virginia. He also teaches and researches at Sonoma State University in the Physics and Astronomy department.

What makes this astronomy book so appealing is that it is written for the everyday reader, not the scientist. Phil Plait takes the time to fully explain scientific concepts with the voice of a teacher seeking to educate. Every concept is presented in a way that is easy to understand, and by placing the information in a historical context, he illuminates the past while helping the reader to more deeply understand vital scientific concepts.

Consisting of 24 chapters, “Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed” is based on Phil Plait’s website, a valuable resource for those who want factual information about the Earth, stars, planets, moon and galaxies. Some of the scientific myths and misconceptions that the book covers include astrological readings, creationism and UFO theories. It also takes aim at those who hold that the Moon landings were all staged, and that mankind has never walked on the Moon.

You’ll also find a critique of the work of Immanuel Velikovsky who made fantastic claims about the origin of the Earth and the events of ancient history. The book even makes some surprising revelations about why it’s best not to have a star named in honor of someone.

While the material included seeks the truth on controversial topics, it also introduces those new to astronomy to important facts about the Earth and the universe. Even those who have studied astronomy in the past can benefit from his clear, concise explanations of topics like how the Moon affects the tides and why the sky is blue.

Overall, “Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed” is highly recommended for anyone looking to learn the debunked truth about astronomy.

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