Review by Choice Review
A monumental work, this set displays impeccable credentials, including a large group of contributors, an experienced editorial board, and the careful and extensive efforts of the publishers who themselves have an excellent reputation. The most recent comparable work is The Astronomy and Astrophysics Encyclopedia, ed. by Stephen P. Maran (1992), which, although excellent for a single-volume work, pales by comparison. The new work has 2,000 illustrations including a section of color plates in each volume. The 700 signed major articles and 1,800 smaller articles are extensively indexed. The binding, printing, and illustrations are all of highest quality. Main articles have bibliographies and internal cross-references as well as references to pertinent Web sites. The introduction promises continuous updating on the Web although details are not given. Extensive coverage is given some newer subjects such as dark matter and extrasolar planets, although the newest developments of dark e nergy and the acceleration of the expansion of the universe are missing. Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences but advances in observational techniques and instruments in the last 15 years have resulted in rapid changes in the field, making publication of this new encyclopedia very timely. Well worth the price, it is recommended to all libraries. J. O. Christensen Brigham Young University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics is truly a landmark publication. Not only is it the most comprehensive and up-to-date work of its kind but it is also the first astronomy encyclopedia to be released in both print and Web formats. From astrophysical theories to astronomical objects to historical events to current space exploration, this work covers the entire range of human investigation of the cosmos. The print version consists of more than 3,000 entries, of which 630 are primary articles discussing important theoretical and observational results of astronomical research, including entries as varied as Climate, Galaxies, Jupiter, and Telescope engineering. The work is especially strong in its coverage of topics related to the sun and solar physics. All of these lengthy articles provide both an overview and state-of-the-art review of the subject matter. Each includes at least three illustrations and a bibliography of relevant print and Web resources. In addition to the primary articles, the work contains almost 800 short topical articles providing key definitions and background information. There are also 290 articles detailing specific space vehicles and missions, 280 entries for observatories, 650 short biographies, and one entry for each of the 110 Messier objects. Although the encyclopedia is aimed at readers of all levels, it is definitely a scholarly work and will be most useful for college students and professionals in the field. Many of the entries require the use of differential calculus to fully understand the subject matter. In addition to the entries, cross-references and a detailed subject index are provided. The heart of the online version is the text of the print version. Users find information by browsing by article title, subject, or contributor or searching by keyword. Cross-references are hypertext linked so that the reader may easily jump within an entry or from article to article. Bibliographies are also linked to full-text sources to which a library subscribes. In addition to the text of the print encyclopedia, the online encyclopedia provides links to astronomical Web sites, recent news related to astronomy and space exploration, and special feature articles on topics of current interest. There are plans to add new functionalities; for example, a recent enhancement allows users to personalize the site by bookmarking articles or figures, saving searches, and more. The Web version will be updated quarterly, but not enough time has passed since release for an update to be evaluated. Unfortunately, the online version of the encyclopedia offers a variety of problems. During the course of this review, the Web site was consistently slow to respond. More seriously, the typographic codes used to produce the print edition have not translated well into the Web environment. Headings with embedded punctuation or dates, including all biography entries, become confusing and difficult to read. For example, the heading for Carl Sagan is Sagan, Carl Edward (1934--96). The links to full-text resources are frustrating when the subscriber to the encyclopedia is not also a subscriber to the source for the full text. These links create the illusion that information will be available that is not really there for most users. The links to outside sources are useful, but these Web sites may also be discovered using standard search engines, although the encyclopedia organizes them nicely. Although there is a Help button, no help is available at this time, unless the user sends an e-mail query. Fortunately, the search software is straightforward and requires little assistance for any experienced Web user. As a print resource, Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics is a valuable tool that will become the standard source of its type in academic and research collections. The quality of the online version will undoubtedly improve over time. Institutions that support astronomical research will probably wish to subscribe to the online version, despite its current drawbacks. Other libraries will be satisfied with the one-time purchase of the print edition.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review
This four-volume set contains over 3000 articles covering a broad range of topics in astronomy and astrophysics, making it one of the largest reference sources available on the topic. Murdin (End of Fire: The Supernova in the Large Magellanic Cloud) and his editorial board have assembled more than 800 astronomers and astrophysicists, who produced both lengthy main articles tackling main themes in astronomy and briefer, unsigned entries. The 600-plus main articles range from 2500 to 5000 words and offer illustrations and bibliographic references, which sometimes include web sites. The shorter, unsigned articles are descriptions of space vehicles and missions, messier objects, observatories, definitions, and biographies. Most of the 2000 illustrations are black and white, with a few color-plate inserts grouped in the middle of each volume. An online version (www.ency-astro.com) offers full-text searching, hyperlinked cross references, and quarterly updates. The interface is easy to navigate, but some features, such as the subject browse, load slowly. Interest in astronomy is growing, fueled by recent discoveries, and the current encyclopedia serves as an updated, comprehensive resource. It is considerably more inclusive than either the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Astronomy (LJ 4/15/93) or The Encyclopedia of Astronomy & Astrophysics (Van Nostrand Reinhold: Wiley, 1992). Suitable for scientists, students, and amateur astronomers, this work is recommended for academic libraries. Teresa Berry, Univ. of Tennessee Libs., Knoxville (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.