The best Hubble Space Telescope books

1 authors have picked their favorite books about the Hubble Space Telescope and why they recommend each book.

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Picturing the Cosmos

By Elizabeth A. Kessler,

Book cover of Picturing the Cosmos: Hubble Space Telescope Images and the Astronomical Sublime

A penetrating, creative, and highly accessible exploration of how the incredible images from the Hubble Space Telescope were selected and produced. Most intriguing and revealing is an analysis of the context of these images within the history of frontier landscape art.

Picturing the Cosmos

By Elizabeth A. Kessler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The vivid, dramatic images of distant stars and galaxies taken by the Hubble Space Telescope have come to define how we visualize the cosmos. In their immediacy and vibrancy, photographs from the Hubble show what future generations of space travelers might see should they venture beyond our solar system. But their brilliant hues and precise details are not simply products of the telescope's unprecedented orbital location and technologically advanced optical system. Rather, they result from a series of deliberate decisions made by the astronomers who convert raw data from the Hubble into spectacular pictures by assigning colors, adjusting contrast, and…


Who am I?

I was trained in astronomy and astrophysics, was a staff observer at the Lick and Yerkes Observatories, and always have had a passion for researching and writing the history of modern astrophysics and space astronomy. I hold a PhD in the history of astronomy from the University of Leicester in England, am now a retired museum curator having been a planetarium lecturer, college professor, research associate for the Center for History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics, and guitar teacher in the early 1960s.


I wrote...

The Hubble Cosmos: 25 Years of New Vistas in Space

By David H. DeVorkin, Robert W. Smith,

Book cover of The Hubble Cosmos: 25 Years of New Vistas in Space

What is my book about?

Lavishly illustrated popular exposition of the Hubble Space Telescope, how and why it was created, who built it and fought for it, who used it, and how it has changed our view of the universe.

The Space Telescope

By Robert W. Smith,

Book cover of The Space Telescope: A Study of NASA, Science, Technology, and Politics

Award-winning, highly authoritative, comprehensive, and accessible history of the long campaign for a large space telescope by astronomers and NASA program officers. One of the most penetrating studies of how NASA constructs and operates major space missions, and how access to space has changed “what it means to be an astronomer.”.

The Space Telescope

By Robert W. Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Robert Smith's The Space Telescope sets the fascinating and disturbing history of this massive venture within the context of 'Big Science'. Launched at a cost of no more than $2 billion, the Space Telescope turned out to be seriously flawed by imperfections in the construction of its lenses and by solar panels that caused it to shudder when moving from daylight to darkness. Smith analyses how the processes of Big Science, especially those involving the government's funding process for large-scale projects, contributed to those failures. He reveals the astonishingly complex interactions that took place among the scientific community, government and…

Who am I?

I was trained in astronomy and astrophysics, was a staff observer at the Lick and Yerkes Observatories, and always have had a passion for researching and writing the history of modern astrophysics and space astronomy. I hold a PhD in the history of astronomy from the University of Leicester in England, am now a retired museum curator having been a planetarium lecturer, college professor, research associate for the Center for History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics, and guitar teacher in the early 1960s.


I wrote...

The Hubble Cosmos: 25 Years of New Vistas in Space

By David H. DeVorkin, Robert W. Smith,

Book cover of The Hubble Cosmos: 25 Years of New Vistas in Space

What is my book about?

Lavishly illustrated popular exposition of the Hubble Space Telescope, how and why it was created, who built it and fought for it, who used it, and how it has changed our view of the universe.

Spaceman

By Mike Massimino,

Book cover of Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe

Influenced by the Apollo era, “I applied to be an astronaut four times and was rejected three times before I was accepted. So, it’s about following your dream and not giving up.” This is from the son of a New York City fireman, where work ethic, never giving up, and lots of humor frame Mike’s achievement to becoming an astronaut (and even a guest on The Big Bang Theory). I’ve known Mass since 2007 and those ingrained qualities make for an inspirational narrative. Perhaps the most poignant: trying to avoid tearing up during his first EVA spacewalk on the Hubble Space Telescope when he experienced seeing the wonder of our blue-dot, water-world Earth from space.  

Spaceman

By Mike Massimino,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Mike Massimino's compelling memoir takes us on a brilliant journey where the nerdiest science meets the most thrilling adventure to reveal what 'the right stuff' truly is. Many children dream of becoming an astronaut when they grow up, but when NASA rejected him, he kept on trying. Even being told his poor eyesigh would mean he could never make it didn't stop him; he simply trained his eyes to be better. Finally, at the third time of asking, NASA accepted him.
So began Massimino's 18-year career as an astronaut, and the extraordinary lengths he went to to get accepted was…

Who am I?

I’ve followed the history of space exploration since I was a kid! Although I spent decades photographing assignments in exotic international locations and co-authored visually driven books on astronomical phenomena, my dream was to photograph in NASA’s restricted space exploration work cultures. Never giving up, I achieved unprecedented access into the shuttle mission that saved the Hubble Space Telescope and, for more than a decade, with the New Horizons team that first explored the Pluto system. I’ve been published in media like Smithsonian, Nat Geo, WIRED, New Scientist, and NPR. Honored that my photographs of astronaut space tools are in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum.   


I wrote...

Infinite Worlds: The People and Places of Space Exploration

By Michael Soluri,

Book cover of Infinite Worlds: The People and Places of Space Exploration

What is my book about?

Infinite Worlds - the People and Places of Space Exploration is a visually driven, beautifully designed, and printed coffee table book that reveals the sublime art of human and robotic space exploration. With extraordinary access over several years into the restricted, behind-the-scenes work cultures of 3 NASA Spaceflight Centers, Michael photographically documented the craft and humanity that frames the team effort behind the historic last shuttle mission that essentially saved the Hubble Space Telescope. In addition, his observations are woven between 18 insightful first-person essays by some of the NASA astronaut crew, engineers, shuttle techs, and scientists who worked on this historic mission. Mercury astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, wrote the introduction.

Book cover of Centennial History of the Carnegie Institution of Washington: Volume 1, the Mount Wilson Observatory: Breaking the Code of Cosmic Evolution

Exhaustive descriptive and semi-technical history of the observatory where Hubble spent most of his career, using the 100-inch Hooker reflector to explore the visual limits of the known Universe. Sandage, himself a famous astronomer and Hubble successor, places Hubble’s life and career in lucid institutional context.

Centennial History of the Carnegie Institution of Washington

By Allan Sandage,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Centennial History of the Carnegie Institution of Washington as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since its foundation in 1904, the Mount Wilson Observatory has been at the centre of the development of astrophysics. Perched atop a mountain wilderness, two mammoth solar tower telescopes and the 60- and 100-inch behemoth night-time reflectors were all the largest in the world. Research has centred around two main themes - the evolution of stars and the development of the universe. This first volume in a series of five histories of the Carnegie Institution describes the people and events, the challenges and successes that the Observatory has witnessed. It includes biographical sketches of forty of the most famous Mount…

Who am I?

I was trained in astronomy and astrophysics, was a staff observer at the Lick and Yerkes Observatories, and always have had a passion for researching and writing the history of modern astrophysics and space astronomy. I hold a PhD in the history of astronomy from the University of Leicester in England, am now a retired museum curator having been a planetarium lecturer, college professor, research associate for the Center for History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics, and guitar teacher in the early 1960s.


I wrote...

The Hubble Cosmos: 25 Years of New Vistas in Space

By David H. DeVorkin, Robert W. Smith,

Book cover of The Hubble Cosmos: 25 Years of New Vistas in Space

What is my book about?

Lavishly illustrated popular exposition of the Hubble Space Telescope, how and why it was created, who built it and fought for it, who used it, and how it has changed our view of the universe.

Handprints on Hubble

By Kathryn D. Sullivan,

Book cover of Handprints on Hubble: An Astronaut's Story of Invention

Highly exciting and engaging first-hand account by an astronaut of launching and then repairing the Hubble Space Telescope. The author provides her personal profile as a “Sputnik Baby,” life in science, and becoming the first female astronaut to leave the Shuttle.

Handprints on Hubble

By Kathryn D. Sullivan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Handprints on Hubble as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first American woman to walk in space recounts her experience as part of the team that launched, rescued, repaired, and maintained the Hubble Space Telescope
 
The Hubble Space Telescope has revolutionized our understanding of the universe. It has, among many other achievements, revealed thousands of galaxies in what seemed to be empty patches of sky; transformed our knowledge of black holes; found dwarf planets with moons orbiting other stars; and measured precisely how fast the universe is expanding. In Handprints on Hubble, retired astronaut Kathryn Sullivan describes her work on the NASA team that made all this possible. Sullivan,…

Who am I?

I was trained in astronomy and astrophysics, was a staff observer at the Lick and Yerkes Observatories, and always have had a passion for researching and writing the history of modern astrophysics and space astronomy. I hold a PhD in the history of astronomy from the University of Leicester in England, am now a retired museum curator having been a planetarium lecturer, college professor, research associate for the Center for History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics, and guitar teacher in the early 1960s.


I wrote...

The Hubble Cosmos: 25 Years of New Vistas in Space

By David H. DeVorkin, Robert W. Smith,

Book cover of The Hubble Cosmos: 25 Years of New Vistas in Space

What is my book about?

Lavishly illustrated popular exposition of the Hubble Space Telescope, how and why it was created, who built it and fought for it, who used it, and how it has changed our view of the universe.

Life With Hubble

By David S. Leckrone,

Book cover of Life With Hubble: An Insider's View of the World’s Most Famous Telescope

Do you recall when the Hubble Space Telescope was launched with supposedly the world’s most perfect mirror, but proved out of focus, a billion-dollar “techno-turkey?” Despite widespread doubts (including mine), it was repaired in space and became arguably the most powerful telescope ever, making extraordinary discoveries about the birth of stars, the age of the universe, what happens when comets smash into Jupiter, and much more. Behind the scenes there were engineering quandaries, inter-agency disputes, and MacGyvering repairs by astronauts. Dave Leckrone, the ultimate insider who worked on Hubble for 33 years, ending as its top Project Scientist, knows what really happened, the “story behind the story,” aided by what must be a photographic memory, incessant notetaking, and one guesses, closely-held Hubble X-files. He tells all of it here.

Life With Hubble

By David S. Leckrone,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life With Hubble as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Hubble Space Telescope is one of the most important scientific and engineering endeavors of our time. It has given humankind the first truly clear view of the heavens and has revolutionized almost every area of modern astronomy. The author of this text, David Leckrone, worked as a project scientist on Hubble for 33 years. From 1992–2009 he was the Senior Project Scientist for Hubble at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. In that role he had an insider’s view of the trials and triumphs of the Hubble mission, including its extraordinary scientific discoveries and the personal journeys of the astronomers…


Who am I?

I’ve studied space for 60+ years, including spotting Sputnik from atop 30 Rock for Operation Moonwatch; monitoring an exploding star for a PhD at University of Michigan, leading the Remotely Controlled Telescope project at Kitt Peak National Observatory, hunting pulsars from Arizona and Chile, and helping develop scientific instruments for the Hubble Space Telescope. I worked for 5 years at Kitt Peak and 35 years for NASA. As Press Officer (now retired) of the American Astronomical Society, I organized press conferences on many notable cosmic discoveries. Minor Planet 9768 was named Stephenmaran for me, but I haven’t seen it yet. What I have spotted are five exceptional books on space.  Enjoy!


I wrote...

Astronomy for Dummies

By Stephen P. Maran,

Book cover of Astronomy for Dummies

What is my book about?

Do you know the difference between a red giant and a white dwarf? From asteroids to black holes, this easy-to-understand guide takes you on a grand tour of the universe. Featuring updated star maps, charts, and an insert with gorgeous full-color photographs, Astronomy For Dummies provides an easy-to-follow introduction to the night sky. Plus, this new edition also gives you the latest theories, explanations, and insights into the basic workings of the universe.

Edwin Hubble

By Gale E. Christianson,

Book cover of Edwin Hubble

Comprehensive biography of the astronomer who confirmed that the universe is made of galaxies, and the galaxies are all moving away from one another. Based upon extensive archival research including diaries from the Hubble family.

Edwin Hubble

By Gale E. Christianson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Edwin Hubble: Mariner of the Nebulae is both the biography of an extraordinary human being and the story of the greatest quest in the history of astronomy since the Copernican revolution. The book is a revealing portrait of scientific genius, an incisive engaging history of ideas, and a shimmering evocation of what we see when gazing at the stars.

Born in 1889 and reared in the village of Marshfield, Missouri, Edwin Powell Hubble-star athlete, Rhodes Scholar, military officer, and astronomer- became one of the towering figures in twentieth-century science. Hubble worked with the great 100-inch Hooker telescope at California's Mount…


Who am I?

I was trained in astronomy and astrophysics, was a staff observer at the Lick and Yerkes Observatories, and always have had a passion for researching and writing the history of modern astrophysics and space astronomy. I hold a PhD in the history of astronomy from the University of Leicester in England, am now a retired museum curator having been a planetarium lecturer, college professor, research associate for the Center for History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics, and guitar teacher in the early 1960s.


I wrote...

The Hubble Cosmos: 25 Years of New Vistas in Space

By David H. DeVorkin, Robert W. Smith,

Book cover of The Hubble Cosmos: 25 Years of New Vistas in Space

What is my book about?

Lavishly illustrated popular exposition of the Hubble Space Telescope, how and why it was created, who built it and fought for it, who used it, and how it has changed our view of the universe.

Life on Mars

By Tracy K. Smith,

Book cover of Life on Mars: Poems

This book mixes personal poetry and history and art and space. It is a wonder! Smith looks at the Hubble Telescope and all of its marvels along with one of its engineers, her father Floyd Smith. 

Smith mixes stars, David Bowie, mass shootings, love, racism, sexism all in this poetry collection and somehow, it works. It more than works. It explodes! 

I don’t know if this work has much to do with my own; there is history, yes, and there is social commentary. But mostly, there is excellent poetry that is exemplary for any poet writing today.

Life on Mars

By Tracy K. Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life on Mars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this brilliant collection of new poems, Tracy K. Smith envisions a sci-fi future sucked clean of any real dangers, contemplates the dark matter that keeps people both close and distant and revisits kitschy concepts like 'love' and 'illness', now relegated to the museum of obsolescence. With allusions to David Bowie and interplanetary travel, Life on Mars imagines a soundtrack for the universe, accompanying the discoveries, failures and oddities of human existence and establishing Smith as one of the best poets of her generation.

Who am I?

I care about social justice, equality, and history, as well as beauty and art. As an African-American woman who was raised working class and who understands how history informs the present, I have fallen in love with the depiction of history in poetry and prose. Not all of my writing has something to do with race or gender or class, but all of my writing is about justice in some way. I want to get to the good of people.


I wrote...

Peculiar Heritage

By DeMisty D. Bellinger,

Book cover of Peculiar Heritage

What is my book about?

Peculiar Heritage is a response to political upheaval and bigoted violence. But it is also an acceptance and welcoming of widespread growth in gender equality, LGBTQ+ acceptance, and racial justice, as well as a nod to hope.

When I started writing many of these poems in 2016, the United States was going through shaky political and social times. We had a wild election after the first Black president served for two terms, and many Americans feared a regression. I wondered then how did we get to that point, but I came to understand that it should not be shocking. From the peculiar institution that was slavery, through second-wave feminism and beyond, ebbs and flows within our borders should be expected.

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