A Sky Wonderful with Stars: 50 Years of Modern Astronomy on Maunakea
by Michael J. West
August 2015 | 216 pages | 155 color, 9 b&w illus.
Cloth | ISBN 978-0-8248-5268-9 | $39.99
Released to coincide with the 2015 International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assembly to be held August 3-14 in Honolulu, A Sky Wonderful with Stars is a spectacular collection of photographs accompanied by short essays by Michael J. West, soon-to-be deputy director for science at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. (West, a former UH Hilo professor and most recently director at the Maria Mitchell Observatory, starts his new position on August 1 and is unable to attend the IAU gathering.) Through more than 160 photo-essays, the book shows the special beauty of Maunakea’s sky and landscape, its mythical beginnings, and glacial past; tells the story of how the human dream to create the village of the Maunakea observatories endured and became reality; and showcases some of the stunning images and scientific discoveries that have been revealed by the telescopes, which are among the most powerful on Earth.
UH Press will be an exhibitor at the IAU meeting, sharing a booth with University of Arizona Press and Princeton University Press, and copies of the book will be available for sale. As usual, the exhibit hall as well as the program sessions are open only to registered attendees. There are public events scheduled, however, including an evening talk on August 11 by Günther Hasinger, director of the Institute for Astronomy at UH Mānoa, whose book, Astronomy’s Limitless Journey, will be published by UHP in October. Dr. Hasinger’s talk, “The Development of Modern Astronomy in Hawai‘i,” will start at 7:30 p.m., following the Exoworld opening ceremony. While the event is free, tickets are required and can be booked here. In a related link, listen to the ByteMark Cafe interview with Dr. Hasinger and assistant astronomer Roy Gal about the IAU.
From Michael West’s preface to A Sky Wonderful with Stars:
Astronomy isn’t just the study of distant planets, stars, and galaxies. It’s also the study of something much closer to home—us. One of astronomy’s most profound discoveries is that we humans are made from the ashes of stars whose fires burned out long ago. . . . Perhaps that’s why we feel compelled to explore the starry skies, as if driven by an innate yearning to know our true ancestral home and ourselves. “You are that vast thing that you see far, far off with the great telescopes,” wrote the philosopher Alan Watts.