The sky belongs to everyone. That’s the premise of this guidebook to the Universe. You don’t need a medical degree to know when you’re sick or a doctorate in literature to appreciate a novel. In the same spirit, even those of us who do not have advanced degrees in astronomy, astrophysics, or space science can gain access to all the wonder and experience that the Universe has to offer.
The goal of this book is to get you cosmically oriented for your own exploration, guiding you through the Universe, step by step, with pictures along the way to show where we’re going and to point out must-see sights that no celestial traveler should miss.
We might leave out someone’s favorite galaxy or a famous nebula, but that’s the nature of a travel guide. We’ll start our journey locally on Earth, hit our favorite star (the Sun, that is), head out through our Solar System, and then travel far, far beyond it.
The more we look at the Universe, the more interesting it gets. In recent years, astronomers have learned more about black holes, found hundreds of planets around other stars, and determined that 96 percent of the Universe is made up of stuff that we haven’t yet been able to figure out. Everything we know about the Universe comes from basic and applied science, even if some of it may sound as if it comes from science fiction.
Welcome to your Universe.
— Megan and Kim
Excerpted from Your Ticket to the Universe by Kimberly K. Arcand and Megan Watzke. Copyright © 2013 by Kimberly K. Arcand. Excerpted by permission of Smithsonian Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.