98 books like Parallax

By Alan W. Hirshfeld,

Here are 98 books that Parallax fans have personally recommended if you like Parallax. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of The Pursuit of Harmony: Kepler on Cosmos, Confession, and Community

Chary Rangacharyulu Author Of From Atoms to Higgs Boson: Voyages in Quasi-Spacetime

From my list on stargazers' strife and joy since antiquity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been pursuing nuclear and particle physics as a career for nearly half a century, mostly in Western countries and Japan. As a professor of physics and engineering physics, I always strive to bring conceptual clarity to what I teach for application-oriented and abstract physics, even when I cannot bring the same level of connection to physical reality in my research. I am deeply concerned that physicists have gone astray in their mathematical quest to develop a glamorous picture of the building blocks of matter and the basic interactions among them. This book is an outgrowth of my search to understand the limits of human knowledge to unravel nature’s mysteries. 

Chary's book list on stargazers' strife and joy since antiquity

Chary Rangacharyulu Why did Chary love this book?

Professor Rothman, a historian of Science, presents the little-known fact that Kepler’s search for harmony in astronomy has deep connections to the search for harmony in the European community of his time. In less than 400 pages, Professor Rothman takes us on an educational tour of Kepler’s evolution of his ideas of cosmic harmony and his professing those ideas for harmony in an inclusive, diverse society.  

There are many untold stories and circumstances that drive a person to pursue a path of discovery or innovation, making them immortal. Kepler was the main player in laying the firm foundation of the heliocentric solar system. It is fascinating to learn that the world politics of his day were contributing factors in this regard.

By Aviva Rothman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Pursuit of Harmony as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A committed Lutheran excommunicated from his own church, a friend to Catholics and Calvinists alike, a layman who called himself a "priest of God," a Copernican in a world where Ptolemy still reigned, a man who argued at the same time for the superiority of one truth and the need for many truths to coexist German astronomer Johannes Kepler was, to say the least, a complicated figure. With The Pursuit of Harmony, Aviva Rothman offers a new view of him and his achievements, one that presents them as a story of Kepler's attempts to bring different, even opposing ideas and…


Book cover of Cosmography in the Age of Discovery and the Scientific Revolution

Chary Rangacharyulu Author Of From Atoms to Higgs Boson: Voyages in Quasi-Spacetime

From my list on stargazers' strife and joy since antiquity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been pursuing nuclear and particle physics as a career for nearly half a century, mostly in Western countries and Japan. As a professor of physics and engineering physics, I always strive to bring conceptual clarity to what I teach for application-oriented and abstract physics, even when I cannot bring the same level of connection to physical reality in my research. I am deeply concerned that physicists have gone astray in their mathematical quest to develop a glamorous picture of the building blocks of matter and the basic interactions among them. This book is an outgrowth of my search to understand the limits of human knowledge to unravel nature’s mysteries. 

Chary's book list on stargazers' strife and joy since antiquity

Chary Rangacharyulu Why did Chary love this book?

This book is a pleasure to read as it narrates the interlinks between geography, cosmography, and astronomy in simple language. It takes the reader through an exciting journey from antiquity to the 19th-century developments of astronomy and geography, examining the links and struggles between the sciences and humanities. It exhorts educators and researchers to advocate a truly humanistic science.

It is not surprising that there exists a tension between science, humanities, and other professions today. Astronomy has many narrations of its links to navigation and geography. This book traces these links from antiquity to the 19th century in one place. The quest to map out the stars has not been just for knowledge's sake, after all. 

By David Barrado Navascues,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cosmography in the Age of Discovery and the Scientific Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book tells the comprehensive history of cosmography from the 15th Century Age of Discovery onward. During this time, cosmography-a science that combined geography and astronomy to inform us about our place in the universe-was deeply tied to ongoing developments in politics, exploration, culture, and technology.

The book offers in-depth historical context over nearly four centuries, focusing in particular on the often neglected role that Portugal and Spain played in the development of cosmography. It details the great activity emerging from the Iberian and Italic peninsulas, including numerous voyagers of exploration, a clear commercial intention, and advancements in map-making techniques.…


Book cover of Understanding Gaia: A Mission to Map the Galaxy

Chary Rangacharyulu Author Of From Atoms to Higgs Boson: Voyages in Quasi-Spacetime

From my list on stargazers' strife and joy since antiquity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been pursuing nuclear and particle physics as a career for nearly half a century, mostly in Western countries and Japan. As a professor of physics and engineering physics, I always strive to bring conceptual clarity to what I teach for application-oriented and abstract physics, even when I cannot bring the same level of connection to physical reality in my research. I am deeply concerned that physicists have gone astray in their mathematical quest to develop a glamorous picture of the building blocks of matter and the basic interactions among them. This book is an outgrowth of my search to understand the limits of human knowledge to unravel nature’s mysteries. 

Chary's book list on stargazers' strife and joy since antiquity

Chary Rangacharyulu Why did Chary love this book?

This book is the result of a collaboration between a professional science journalist and a practicing astronomer. The authors lead us through the research activities of stellar astronomy, reminding us of the questions posed by the scientists at each stage, examining the limitations and the excitement scientists find as they reach their goal, which brings the next question(s), sending the teams on an endless expedition to explore further.  

Quite often, science journalists write on a subject that they are not totally sure of, but they do so as told to them by a science practitioner, who performs many of their chores routinely and does not seek to answer some simple questions.

To me, this book is quite refreshing in that a science journalist who can relate to questions likely to occur to a non-specialist collaborates with an astronomer to whom these questions may not occur. They collaborated, and the result…

By Gabriella Bernardi, Alberto Vecchiato,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Understanding Gaia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is the first to provide a comprehensive, readily understandable report on the European Space Agency's Gaia mission that will meet the needs of a general audience. It takes the reader on an exciting journey of discovery, explaining how such a scientific satellite is made, presenting the scientific results available from Gaia to date, and examining how the collected data will be used and their likely scientific consequences.

The Gaia mission will provide a complete and high-precision map of the positions, distances, and motions of the stars in our galaxy. It will revolutionize our knowledge on the origin and…


Book cover of Saints and Sinners in the Sky: Astronomy, Religion and Art in Western Culture

Chary Rangacharyulu Author Of From Atoms to Higgs Boson: Voyages in Quasi-Spacetime

From my list on stargazers' strife and joy since antiquity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been pursuing nuclear and particle physics as a career for nearly half a century, mostly in Western countries and Japan. As a professor of physics and engineering physics, I always strive to bring conceptual clarity to what I teach for application-oriented and abstract physics, even when I cannot bring the same level of connection to physical reality in my research. I am deeply concerned that physicists have gone astray in their mathematical quest to develop a glamorous picture of the building blocks of matter and the basic interactions among them. This book is an outgrowth of my search to understand the limits of human knowledge to unravel nature’s mysteries. 

Chary's book list on stargazers' strife and joy since antiquity

Chary Rangacharyulu Why did Chary love this book?

Science meets Religion and Art is an apt summary of this delightful work of Mendillo, an astronomy professor. In a couple of hundred pages, the author shares his knowledge accumulated over a few decades of his studies by analyzing the centuries of work by astronomers, artists, and theologians. This book would be of interest to practicing astronomers as well as casual stargazers.

Having lived on three continents, I am always fascinated by the way religion and the art that goes with it have influenced societies’ thinking and narratives of stellar objects and cosmology. This influence is reflected in the art and images artists create to express their faith. Professor Mendillo has summarized his decades-long exploration of these connections as found in cathedrals, museums, etc., in this book.

By Michael Mendillo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Saints and Sinners in the Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this book, Boston University Professor of Astronomy Michael Mendillo takes readers deep into the annals of history, showing how visual depictions of the heavens evolved in tandem with science and religion throughout much of Western culture.

With unprecedented scope and scale, Professor Mendillo explores how cave art, illuminated manuscripts, sculptures, paintings and architecture reflected some of the great religious and secular battles taking place over the course of centuries. Enter a world of biblical proportions, where constellations of ancient heroes and pagans were thoroughly recast as Christian saints and the Twelve Apostles.

This nontechnical narrative brings vitality and accessibility…


Book cover of The Brightest Stars: Discovering the Universe Through the Sky's Most Brilliant Stars

David A. Aguilar Author Of Space Encyclopedia: A Tour of Our Solar System and Beyond

From my list on understanding the first science: astronomy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a naturalist, astronomer, space artist, and a Harvard world lecturer living in the Rocky Mountains outside of Aspen. So far, I’ve written and illustrated twelve kid’s astronomy books for National Geographic and Penguin Random House. I directed the Science Information Center at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge Massachusetts for fourteen years then left in 2015 to join NASA’s New Horizons Mission Team becoming one of the first humans to see the planet Pluto up close and personal. I am also a Grammy nominated songwriter/musician, astrophotographer, telescope maker who enjoys scuba diving at night and occasionally has been known to parachute out of perfectly operating aircraft.

David's book list on understanding the first science: astronomy

David A. Aguilar Why did David love this book?

The stars have captivated hunter-gatherers, artists and astrologers, sages and scientists, romantics, and civilizations since the beginning of human time. 

In this book we encounter the twenty-one brightest stars visible from earth and dig into their remarkable secrets. Did you know some giant stars spin so fast they flatten out like eggs? There are stars that pulse back and forth like beating hearts? And some stars are cosmic interlopers passing through our Milky Way galaxy on their way back into the void of forever space. This is my go-to book when I want to refresh my imagination with wondrous facts about the stars blazing overhead. It should be within handy reach of every star-struck observer, camper, or poet.

By Fred Schaaf,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Brightest Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fred Schaaf is one of the most experienced astronomical observers of our time. For more than two decades, his view of the sky-what will be visible, when it will be visible, and what it will look like-has encouraged tens of thousands of people to turn their eyes skyward.
—David H. Levy, Science Editor, Parade magazine, discoverer of twenty-one comets, and author of Starry Night and Cosmic Discoveries

""Fred Schaaf is a poet of the stars. He brings the sky into people's lives in a way that is compelling and his descriptions have all the impact of witnessing the stars on…


Book cover of Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning

John M. Saul Author Of What the Stork Brought: African click-speakers and the spread of humanity's oldest beliefs

From my list on the origins of humanity's earliest beliefs.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a geologist, I met and shared meals – occasionally under the stars – with individuals with strikingly different backgrounds. In time I realized that, whatever their DNA, they all shared certain beliefs, that the happy dead eventually go upward, for example, even if they start by going down or out to the horizon. Eventually, I concluded that the entire human adventure began in a single moment the day one of our forebears asked another "What shall we do about death?" and was understood. Humans have a single genetic heritage; we also have a single cultural heritage.

John's book list on the origins of humanity's earliest beliefs

John M. Saul Why did John love this book?

Allen (1838-1906) was described as a "walking encyclopedia" by people who knew him. It was only after acquiring a reprint of his great book, a decade before the internet, that my own research into ancient cosmology took off. Star Names was first published in 1899 and as Wikipedia notes "there is no direct modern equivalent." As is the case with the internet, large sections can also be plucked out and read for pleasure.

By Richard H. Allen,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Star Names as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here is an unusual book for anyone who appreciates the beauty and wonder of the stars. Solidly based upon years of thorough research into astronomical writings and observations of the ancient Chinese, Arabic, Euphrates, Hellenic, and Roman civilizations, it is an informative, non-technical excursion into the vast heritage of folklore and history associated with the heavenly bodies.
From his studies of the writings of scores of ancient astronomers, the author has come up with a fascinating history of the names various cultures have given the constellations, the literary and folkloristic uses that have been made of the stars through the…


Book cover of Space Atlas: Mapping the Universe and Beyond

Ginger Marin Author Of Monster on Mars

From my list on mars and imaginative worlds in and about space.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an actor and writer who has been delving deep into my imagination for as long as I can remember. I’m originally from New York where I studied film/TV and acting, and worked in the less imaginative world as a writer/producer at NBC News. After moving to Los Angeles, I became a long-time member of the respected "Theatre East", while performing in a number of theater productions, and then went full tilt into film and TV. I also write screenplays of varying genres and in fact my two books are also in screenplay format as I would love to see them on the big and small screens. 

Ginger's book list on mars and imaginative worlds in and about space

Ginger Marin Why did Ginger love this book?

Break out your telescope and this book.

This is one of those coffee table books you’ll pick up time and again. A wonderful resource for kids and adult space fanatics alike to get the imaginative juices going as we all look to the stars and planets and wonder about our place in the universe.

It’s part of a National Geographic book series so you know you’re getting the best-sourced and most recent info. Even writers of fiction need good sources from which to create!

By James Trefil,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Space Atlas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For space enthusiasts, science lovers, and star gazers, the newly revised edition of National Geographic's enduring guide to space, with a new introduction by American hero Buzz Aldrin, combines thoroughly updated maps, lavish photographs, and elegant illustrations to chart the solar system, the universe, and beyond.

A guided tour of the solar system, the Milky Way galaxy, the universe, and beyond, with detailed maps and fascinating imagery from recent space missions partnered with clear, authoritative scientific information. Starting with the sun and moving outward into space, acclaimed science writer and physicist James Trefil illuminates each planet, the most important moons,…


Book cover of The Fire of Stars: The Life and Brilliance of the Woman Who Discovered What Stars Are Made Of

Candice Ransom Author Of Bones in the White House: Thomas Jefferson's Mammoth

From my list on nonfiction children’s break boundaries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of 180 books for children, including the classic (30 plus years in print) picture book The Big Green Pocketbook. As a kid, I checked out more nonfiction books than novels. I read about stars, dinosaurs, ice age mammals, rocks, animals, and birds. I wanted to combine all those interests into one job: astronomer-paleontologist-geologist-zoologist-ornithologist, but I couldn’t even afford community college. I became a writer of children’s books, where I could be involved in all of those occupations and more. I’ve written 50 nonfiction books for children and believe the very best books being published for kids today are in the area of children’s narrative nonfiction.

Candice's book list on nonfiction children’s break boundaries

Candice Ransom Why did Candice love this book?

My astronomer kid self adored this book. My adult self was astonished by this accomplished work of nonfiction. Dual narratives take the stage on each page. First, the star that is trying so hard to be born, and second, the girl Cecilia Payne who tries so hard to understand the natural world. As the star goes through various phases, so does Cecilia, who longs to make scientific discoveries. Brilliantly told, the stories of the star and Cecilia parallel each other. I found myself going back and forth between them, marveling at inset pencil and walnut ink illustrations that never overpowered the text.

As a girl, I, too, loved natural science and wished this book had been published in my day. I might have been prepared to carve my way into a man’s world, as Cecilia did. Back matter fills in how stars are born—Cecilia’s discovery—plus a timeline of her amazing…

By Kirsten W. Larson, Katherine Roy (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fire of Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy's Vanishing Explorers

Sarah Scoles Author Of Astronomical Mindfulness: Your Cosmic Guide to Reconnecting with the Sun, Moon, Stars, and Planets

From my list on making night sky your new BFF.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up intending to become an astronaut. The cosmos always felt within reach of my backyard, from where I could watch the Space Shuttle launch. As I grew up, I began to realize that the space our rockets reached was exceedingly close compared to the rest of the universe. And I became obsessed with what else was out there. I went on to study radio astronomy, fascinated by the parts of the cosmos that our senses can’t detect. After that, I became a science journalist, writing about how space influences Earth and vice versa.

Sarah's book list on making night sky your new BFF

Sarah Scoles Why did Sarah love this book?

Author Emily Levesque seeks out powerful telescopes and the people who run them, looking at the evolution of astronomy from a science based on hands-on observing to one more centered on remote-controlled instruments. In the book, she questions what astronomy may have lost in its shift toward more distanced and abstracted technology—and what sorts of creativity and adventure it could retain if the study of the stars were a little more like it was in centuries past. I enjoyed the hard, but narrative and engaging, look at what professional astronomers gain and lose from the way they look at the stars (and everything else in the sky).

By Emily Levesque,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Stargazers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of the people who see beyond the stars-an astronomy book for adults still spellbound by the night sky.
Humans from the earliest civilizations through today have craned their necks each night, using the stars to orient themselves in the large, strange world around them. Stargazing is a pursuit that continues to fascinate us: from Copernicus to Carl Sagan, astronomers throughout history have spent their lives trying to answer the biggest questions in the universe. Now, award-winning astronomer Emily Levesque shares the stories of modern-day stargazers in this new nonfiction release, the people willing to adventure across high mountaintops…


Book cover of Minding the Heavens: The Story of Our Discovery of the Milky Way

Barbara J. Becker Author Of Unravelling Starlight: William and Margaret Huggins and the Rise of the New Astronomy

From my list on the history of astrophysics.

Why am I passionate about this?

Barbara J. Becker received her PhD in the history of science from Johns Hopkins University. Until her retirement, she taught at the University of California at Irvine and now resides in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is a leading authority on astronomer William Huggins. Her research interests include the role of the amateur in the development of nineteenth-century professional astronomy, the redefining of disciplinary boundaries in the face of new knowledge and new practice, and the role of controversy in shaping the substance and structure of scientific knowledge. She is the author of numerous journal articles and editor of Selected Correspondence of William Huggins (2 volumes).

Barbara's book list on the history of astrophysics

Barbara J. Becker Why did Barbara love this book?

Young people today casually speak of "galaxies far, far away".  They seem to have an intuitive, even if fanciful, understanding that, like science fiction aliens, they and their fellow humans also reside in a galaxy of their own. A mere century ago, such a belief was a matter of highly debatable conjecture. How did earthbound observers learn that the Sun is just one of the hundreds of billions of stars bound gravitationally in a vast spiral-shaped galaxy? 

As Minding the Heavens ably demonstrates, the answer to that question is a long and fascinating story, one that author Leila Belkora vividly recounts using chapter-length biographies of seven astronomers from the 18th to the 20th centuries.  With help from their assistants and family as well as communication with contemporaries, these curiosity-driven individuals endeavored to determine the form and structure of the celestial realm and learn the true nature of the mysterious hazy…

By Leila Belkora,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Minding the Heavens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Praise for the first edition:

"A terrific blend of the science and the history."

Martha Haynes, Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy, Cornell University, New York, USA

"The book is a treat... Highly recommended for public and academic libraries."

Peter Hepburn, now Head Librarian, College of the Canyons, Santa Clarita, California, USA

Today, we recognize 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…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in stars, astronomy, and astronomers?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about stars, astronomy, and astronomers.

Stars Explore 16 books about stars
Astronomy Explore 75 books about astronomy
Astronomers Explore 23 books about astronomers