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Books Which Concentrate on the:

    History of Astronomy  Including some biographical material

    Building of Telescopes  Including some biographical material

    Biographies of Astronomers   Including discovery of planets and some historical material

     All reviews by Doc G of books in his personal library

A book that fits all categories:

The Astronomy and Astrophysics Encyclopedia, Stephen P. Maran, Van Nostrand Reinhold 1992.
A big, big book.  It is indeed encyclopedic in nature.  There are a lot of really good contributors to this tome.  All in all a good book for quick reference to almost everything astronomical.

Three books about cosmology (simplified):

A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking, Illustrated Version, Bantam 1996.  When I read the first version of this book I didn't understand what Hawking was talking about.  With this new version, I still don't.  Even though I have a minor in astronomy and a masters degree in physics and took courses in quantum mechanics and the like, I have no real understanding of what Hawking is talking about.  I don't think this stuff can be popularized.  Those who claim to understand Hawking are, I think, faking it. :-)

Before the Beginning: Our Universe and Others,  Martin Rees, Addison Wesley 1997.   If you liked Hawking's A Brief History of Time, you will love this book. It contains, in only 257 pages a brief description of every cosmological thought stated by every cosmologist who has existed over all of time.   As best as I can tell nothing has been omitted.  Unfortunately, nothing is explained either.  The speculations of cosmology are stated without significant discussion and remain just that speculation.  The conclusion I see is that man has been and still is speculating about the nature of the universe and that there is little hope of ever figuring it out.  Never-the-less, I am rather satisfied that I managed to get through this book.  I repeat, if you liked Hawking's A Brief History of Time, you will love this book.

Einstein's Greatest Blunder?  Donald Goldsmith Harvard University Press 1997.  This a catchy title caught me into purchasing the book.  It is a lightweight review of cosmology from the beginning to the end.   Again one of those books that tries to give you the impression that it is teaching you something about the fundamentals of  astronomy.  When you are all through with it, you have learned little or nothing, in my opinion.

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