Rough Guide to the Universe 2nd Edition is Out!

I’m absolutely delighted to say that today is the day that my astronomy book, The Rough Guide to the Universe, comes out in a second, updated edition. In it you’ll find the latest on Pluto, Saturn, Mars and other astronomical entities about whom we’ve learned more since the first edition of the book hit stores in 2003.

For those of you who didn’t know I actually wrote anything but fiction, this book is an introduction to the universe and everything in it, for the sort of person who has just gotten themselves a telescope and is now wondering what the heck to do with it. The book tells you, explaining everything you can see in the heavens, and then helping you find those objects way up there. It covers every planet in the solar system (including the dwarf ones, and including our own) plus stars, constellations, nebulae, clusters, galaxies and the ever-proverbial more, and provides detailed star charts to fill you in on what’s where in the night sky.

I was immensely proud of this book when it first came out five years ago — I am a huge believer in the idea that science is accessible to just about anyone who wants to find out about it, and it was a life goal of mine to write an astronomy book. This was exactly the sort of book I wanted to be able to write on the subject: accessible but not simplistic, informative but not bone-dry. The fact it’s been successful enough to warrant a second edition is just about the best thing ever, in my opinion. I hope in 2013 you’ll see the third edition, too. I’ll be happy to update it as long as they let me.

If you’ve wanted to learn more about astronomy, or know someone who wants to learn more, I hope you’ll check out the book. Remember, you want the 2nd edition, with Saturn on the cover (the previous version had Jupiter; it’s now out of date). And if you do get it, I hope you enjoy it. It’s an amazing universe we live in. I’m really happy to be able to tell you about it.

14 Comments on “Rough Guide to the Universe 2nd Edition is Out!”

  1. I’ve been looking for a cool gift to get my Tolkien Society Advisor/Future Astronomy teacher….

    Of course, I probably wouldn’t do it for another year when I graduate.

  2. Amazon brings it to my doorstep tomorrow. Huzzah!

    By the way, I also got your Rough Guide to Science Fiction Movies a couple weeks ago. That one was pretty good.

  3. Hmmm, or as in your timezone parlance, I’m getting it today. :)

    *looks forward to getting through work and oncall and reading Scalzi goodness after*

  4. I’m looking forward to it already. Any words you’d like to share here about the “International We Hate Pluto Society”?

    (Yes, Pluto really is a Kuiper Belt Object like many others. I wish they’d made an exception anyway.)

  5. John — not being as astronomer, how do you go about writing a book like this?

    Does the publisher give you an outline and reference material to use to write the book?

    Do you decide the form and do the research yourself?

    Does the book get vetted by someone else for accuracy?

    Not saying you are qualified to write such a book — just interested in the process and how it compares to writing fiction.

  6. WoFMan:

    I wrote it like a write any non-fiction book: Lots of research. It helps that I have a life-long interest in astronomy and keep up with most of the important events in the field. I also has some friends of mine who are astronomers check the text as I wrote it to catch any particularly egregious errors (of which, I am happy to say, there were none).

  7. Ordered it last week — Amazon says it shipped yesterday and should be here by May 9th (I combined it with another book to get the Free Super Saver shipping).

  8. Gratz! Always great to have another approachable science book on the shelves.

    Out of curiosity, was there room in the book for a sidebar about the Creation Museum? :D

  9. John: In your completely unbiased opinion, do you think this book would be a good buy even for someone who already is moderately knowledgeable about astronomy?

  10. I will buy this for my friend Robin, a coal mining coworker who picked that fuzzy halo comet out of the sky with his naked eye a few nights before the newspapers reported it! He has a new telescope and a stack of Sky and ____ magazines. On nightshifts he brings his star charts and we look out at the crystal clear rocky mountain sky where we work.