March 21, 2008

Review: Women Astronomers: Reaching for the Stars

Title: Women Astronomers: Reaching for the Stars
Author: Mabel Armstrong
ISBN: 0972892958
First published: 2008
This edition: 2008 (ARC)

This is another ARC I've managed to snag from LibraryThing's Early Reviewers Program. This moderately-sized book has a hideous, hideous cover---but, I think, excellent content.

This is actually the first book in a planned "Discovering Women in Science" series by Armstrong, who will be writing about women chemists next (her own field being chemistry). It's targeted towards girls in high school, perhaps specifically those studying the sciences. I'm older than those in the target demographic, but I still found it to be an enjoyable and informative read.

The format is simple. Female astronomers are profiled more or less chronologically, with a biography and highlights of important discoveries. Some are treated at greater length than others, in proportion to their discoveries and/or how much information is available. There are plenty of magazine-style inserts alongside the text talking about various astronomical terms, instruments, etc.

I was especially interested in this book because I am actually taking an astronomy course this year, in order to fulfil one of my degree requirements. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I'm really enjoying it. It's a fascinating field, and I also appreciate that we're dealing with little math but lots of pictures!

That being said, I was very impressed with the way astronomical terms, concepts, and discoveries are explained in this text. These inserts (usually relevant to the work/life of the astronomer being profiled) are clear, concise, and easy to grasp. These concepts are also well indexed--indexes being highly important in non-fiction texts! I also quite liked the timeline running at the bottom of the pages, which helped to put various lives/discoveries in historical context.

It should be noted that the ARC I read contained a number of unfortunate copy-editing goofs. I am confident, however, that they will have been found and corrected before publication.

This book is an excellent resource for those interested in astronomy, those interested in women scientists, and those interested in the history of scientific discoveries. I would highly recommend it.

2 comments:

bethany canfield said...

thanks for your comment! I am excited to find out that info, I'll have to look her up.

Oh, and how do you manage to score early reviews...I can't seem to do it!!! I have tried on Library Thing SEVERAL times and not ever gotten a book! do you have a secret you are willing to share?

shereadsbooks said...

I don't know if there's any secret to it, but this is how it's seemed to work for me:

- I have a large library (~1300 books & growing)

- My library is well organised (tagged)

- My library is eclectic -- everything from classic sci fi to children's books to cooking and gardening to mystery to bible commentary to nineteenth-century fiction... etc, etc. This means that my library is likely to come up as a "good match" for many ER books, because I already have so many genres.

- I request a lot of books! I figure your odds are pretty low if you only request the book you think you'd like the most. I request every book I am interested in, and even many I think I might be interested in. Obviously this gives me much better odds of getting a book, although I might not get the one I would have most liked.

So my advice: organise your library, tag your books, and request anything and everything you might like to read. Best of luck!