Science & Nature – The Skies Above

The Skies Above
Our Sun: Biography of a Star
by Christopher Cooper

Our sun is one amazing G-type main sequence star. Describing its life cycle from birth (4.5 billion years ago) to impending death (the red giant phase slated to occur some 5.4 billion years from now), this visually appealing “biography” uses images from sources such as NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory to explore the sun’s composition and structure, its role in Earth’s formation and evolution, and its impact on other planets in the solar system. And, for those unfamiliar with the language of heliophysics, the book also contains a helpful glossary of terms.

Air: The Restless Shaper of the World
by William Bryant Logan

In this “tour-de-force journey through the natural world” (Kirkus Reviews), author and arborist William Bryant Logan explores the nature of air, that omnipresent yet oft-ignored medium that surrounds and sustains us. From circulation patterns that change the weather to the airborne transmission of particles, Air examines how our planet’s atmosphere influences all life on Earth. Fans of this 3rd book in a loosely connected trilogy (after Dirt and Oak) might also appreciate Gabrielle Walker’s An Ocean of Air, which covers similar ground but with greater emphasis on the physical sciences.

The Cloudspotter’s Guide: The Science, History, and Culture of Clouds
by Gavin Pretor-Pinney

Don’t know your stratus (fog) from your cumulonimbus (thundercloud)? Not to worry, because author Gavin Pretor-Pinney, journalist and founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society, has created this entertaining guidebook to the waters of the troposphere. Describing how and where clouds form, Pretor-Pinney provides accessible explanations of natural phenomena (for example, using a lava lamp to explain thermal convection currents) and includes photographs, line drawings, and diagrams to help novice cloudspotters identify different types of clouds. For a historical perspective on meteorology and cloud classification, try Richard Hamblyn’s The Invention of Clouds.

Under a Wild Sky: John James Audubon and The Making of the Birds of America
by William Souder

Since the 19th-century publication of The Birds of America, a comprehensive catalog of the continent’s avian life, the name Audubon has become practically synonymous with ornithology. But before he became a household name, John James Audubon struggled with his own origins — born “Jean Rabin” in Haiti, he was the illegitimate son of a French naval officer — as well as with the indifference of the scientific establishment. Throughout the 15-year creation of what would become his magnum opus, Audubon’s passion for natural history kept him going in the face of numerous setbacks. Under A Wild Sky focuses specifically on The Birds of America’s creation; for a general biography, try Richard Rhodes’ John James Audubon.

Near-Earth Objects: Finding Them Before They Find Us
by Donald K. Yeomans

“Dinosaurs became extinct because they didn’t have a space program,” asserts Donald K. Yeomans, a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In a calm, measured assessment of near-Earth objects, Yeomans describes the different types of NEOs (asteroids, comets, meteors, and meteoroids) and explains the threat they can pose to life on Earth. Readers fascinated by astronomy or terrified of large-scale impacts may want to check out William E. Burrow’s pragmatic The Asteroid Threat, or Phil Plait’s playful Death from the Skies.

 

List created 12/15/15 – James Hartmann

Adapted from Nextreads.

Posted in Adult Staff Picks, Reading Lists and tagged , , , , , .