The Sun's Heartbeat: And Other Stories from the Life of the Star That Powers Our Planet (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Astronomy has always been a passion of mine, but I don’t think I’ve come across a book that does a better job of conveying the wonder it inspires. The subject may seem almost mundane to some, but Berman deftly demonstrates the sun’s (literal and figurative) centrality to our existence and the mystery and awe that often surround it. A fascinating, accessible book. ~ Tim

— From Tim


The beating heart of the sun is the very pulse of life on earth. And from the ancients who plotted its path at Stonehenge to the modern scientists who unraveled the nuclear fusion reaction that turns mass into energy, humankind has sought to solve its mysteries. In this lively biography of the sun, Bob Berman ranges from its stellar birth to its spectacular future death with a focus on the wondrous and enthralling, and on the heartbreaking sacrifice, laughable errors, egotistical battles, and brilliant inspirations of the people who have tried to understand its power.
What, exactly, are the ghostly streaks of light astronauts see-but can't photograph-when they're in space? And why is it impossible for two people to see the exact same rainbow? Why are scientists beginning to think that the sun is safer than sunscreen? And how does the fluctuation of sunspots-and its heartbeat-affect everything from satellite communications to wheat production across the globe?
Peppered with mind-blowing facts and memorable anecdotes about spectral curiosities-the recently-discovered "second sun" that lurks beneath the solar surface, the eerie majesty of a total solar eclipse-THE SUN'S HEARTBEAT offers a robust and entertaining narrative of how the Sun has shaped humanity and our understanding of the universe around us.

About the Author

Bob Berman is one of America's top astronomy writers. For many years, he wrote the popular "Night Watchman" column for "Discover" magazine. He is currently a columnist for "Astronomy "magazine and a host on NPR's Northeast Public Radio, and he is the science editor of the Old Farmer's Almanac.

Praise For…


"This might be the last book you ever read-afterward, you can't help but stare, in wonder, directly into that fiery ball in the sky. From ancient sun worship to the latest in Sol science, Bob Berman makes THE SUN'S HEARTBEAT shine."
-author of The Disappearing Spoon

"Bob Berman's The Sun's Heartbeat glitters and skips with the joy and excitement of science at its best. He explains things I always wondered about without diminishing the star-gazer's sense of awe."
-Author of Salt and Cod

"Berman directs your attention to our neighborhood ball of nuclear fire, telling its story with charm and wit....He makes a compelling case for putting on a wide-brimmed hat, stepping outside, and giving a second thought to the star that illuminates and powers our planet."
-Discover Magazine

"Berman shakes readers out of a complacent understanding of his subject with startling facts conveyed in companionably witty prose....He finds much that is surprising in the relatively commonplace....making this common sight mysterious again, remind[ing] us of questions we had forgotten to ask."
-Columbus Dispatch

"Berman's pitch-perfect book goes a long way to answering the questions you thought were too dumb to ask, but it does much more than simply provide facts....Berman is a master storyteller, whose passion and enthusiasm for astronomy has served the public well for decades....Read this and you will never look at the sun in the same way again."

"A good read....light-hearted....[and] fun...Above all, the author's enthusiasm for science shines through."
-Wall Street Journal

"A deeply enjoyable book...[Berman] comes across as the world's most enthusiastic science teacher....[who] writes 'everything about the sun is either amazing or useful.' It's hard not to enjoy a book when someone says that and does their cheerful best to back it up."
-Washington Post

"We won't take the Sun for granted any longer if astronomy popularizer Berman...has anything to say about it....'Everything about the Sun is either amazing or useful,' Berman writes, and then proves it, without a doubt."
-Publisher's Weekly

"A quick, smart and colorful biography of 'yon flaming orb.'"
-Kirkus Reviews

"An engaging consciousness-raiser that entertains as it informs about our neighborhood nuclear furnace."

Product Details
ISBN: 9780316091015
ISBN-10: 0316091014
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Publication Date: July 13th, 2011
Pages: 304
Language: English