Minding the Heavens: The Story of Our Discovery of the Milky Way
OverviewToday, we accept that we live on a planet circling the sun, that our sun is just one of billions of stars in the galaxy we call the Milky Way, and that our galaxy is but one of billions born out of the big bang. Yet as recently as the early twentieth century, the general public and even astronomers had vague and confused notions about what lay beyond the visible stars. Minding the Heavens: The Story of Our Discovery of the Milky Way is about how scientists discovered that we lived in a galaxy, in fact, a universe full of galaxies. This fascinating story of the discovery of our own and other galaxies is told through the lives of seven astronomers: Thomas Wright, William Herschel, Wilhelm Struve, William Huggins, Jacobus Kapteyn, Harlow Shapley, and Edwin Hubble. Each contributed greatly to our present understanding of where we live in the cosmos. Through the science and lives of these seven people, each shaped by their family, friends, and contemporaries, we follow this amazing story of discovery. From the mid 1700s with Thomas Wright through to the mid 20th century with the more familiar names of Shapley and Hubble, each character bringing us nearer to our present understanding of the Universe.