20 Books on Space Exploration that are out of this World
Ever wondered about the mysteries of space, its depths and boundaries, time and its dimensions but felt bogged down by the lingo and technical jargon of the physicists and cosmologists? Then this list of books on space exploration can help you unlock the key to this enigmatic, larger than life subject in a comprehendible manner.
Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
The book’s greatest strength lies in the explanation of complex topics of cosmological physics, such as gravity, relativity, black holes, the Big Bang, the nature of time, etc, in simple and understandable language.
Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution by Neil de Grasse Tyson
The book narrates the history of the cosmologic and biological evolution of fourteen billion years. It touches on a bevy of topics, such as quark soup, antimatter, inflation theory, multiverses, dark matter, black holes, galaxies, galactic super-structures, the birth of stars and planets, extra-solar planets, and the probability and possibility of extraterrestrial life.
Cosmos by Carl Sagan
This phenomenal book and timeless classic complements the popular TV series of yesteryears by the same name. It explores the origins of the universe and life, while taking us on an incredible journey of our solar system and of far-off galaxies.
The Very First Light by John C Mather and John Boslough
In this book, Mather has narrated the fascinating account of the trials and tribulations that went into the creation of NASA’s satellite Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE). He has also explored the technical and bureaucratic hurdles that surround the process of any important endeavor.
The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must by Robert Zubrin
In this book, Zubrin logically and passionately presents the case of human settlement and space colonization on Mars. He takes into the technological, economic as well political factors that would go into the pursuit of this dream.
This New Ocean: The Story of the First Space Age by William E. Burrows
The book presents a rich history of space exploration and space programs. The most engrossing parts of the book are those in which Burrows capture and recreate the emotional and magical moments of man’s first step on the moon, Sputnik’s first orbit, and the Challenger tragedy.
Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel
Dava Sobel has crafted a stunning biography through the 124 letters of Sister Maria Celeste wrote to her father, the phenomenal scientist, Galileo Galilei. The book captures the eternal conflict between faith and science, and among politics, theology and philosophy.
The Sleepwalkers by Arthur Koestler
The book is a history of astrology and cosmology traced through the biographies of the earliest astronomers like Pythagoras, Copernicus, Tycho, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton. Through the narratives of their lives and struggles, Koestler attempts to capture the perpetual struggle between faith and reason, beauty and truth, and bias and true understanding.
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
In this epic work, Bryson has attempted to understand and answer most of the perplexing questions we have about life, the universe, and everything in it. Everything under the sun, origin of the smallest of things likes the cell and the vastest of things like space have been covered in this book.
The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
The book is about one of the most important moments in the history of aviation i.e., the invention of the motor-powered airplane and its inventors, the Wright Brothers. Through a narration of their lives, McCullough painstakingly tries to bring home the point that just about anything can be achieved through hard work and determination.
50 Things To See With A Small Telescope by John A Read
This book can be a great starting point for stargazing dreamers and amateur astronomers. It teaches beginners to find and view not just the stars in the night sky but also objects like birds, airplanes, nebula, comets, space stations, sunspots, etc.
A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the Tenth Dimension by Michio Kaku
An interesting read in quantum physics, the book elaborates the concepts of hyperspace as well as black holes, superstrings, and colliding universes. It ends our assumption of the universe being three dimensional and opens up the possibility that it may has as many as ten dimensions.
What’s It Like in Space? Stories from Astronauts Who’ve Been There by Ariel Waldman
A perfect gift for space travel aficionados, the book presents a bevy of facts related to life as an astronaut in space. It answers all the questions related to how astronomers eat, sleep, work and use the loo in conditions of zero gravity.
Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt
This book lends a face and voice to the unsung heroines of space science, the women who worked at California’s JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) as ‘human computers’. These ladies were responsible for carrying out complex calculations which were needed to put rockets and satellites in space.
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan
The book is a propagator of scientific skepticism as opposed to pseudoscience. Sagan lays down a pattern of using the scientific method, logical thinking, and common sense to analyze information handed down to us by pseudo experts. He also explores the reality behind popular myths like demons, UFO’s, the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot, etc.
The Ordinary Spaceman: From Boyhood Dreams to Astronaut by Clayton C. Anderson
The book is an astronaut memoir which goes beyond the aura and charm surrounding spacemen and offers its readers a glimpse into the hard work that goes into the making of an astronaut. The book narrates the ups as well as downs, the elations, as well as the frustrations of the space career.
The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene
The book offers laymen and enthusiasts an easy introduction into the origins of matter, energy, and the universe, relativity, string and quantum theories, without bogging them down with complex mathematical equations.
A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts by Andrew Chaikin
Chaikin has presented a well-rounded history on Apollo missions in this book. The writing style is so vivid that it makes you feel as if you are part of each moment of the lunar landings. The human side of the mission has been given due attention through detailed accounts of the astronomers’ lives, feelings, and emotions.
Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
The book explores those aspects of astronauts’ lives that are unglamorous and yet practical, such as eating, defecating, copulating, and maintaining reasonable body hygiene while living in a zero gravity environment. Roach’s zany account of these tribulations has transformed an otherwise dull topic into a riveting read.
How We’ll Live on Mars by Stephen L. Petranek
A mix of science fiction and facts, the book explores not just the possibility of life on Mars but the necessity and inevitability. He contemplates on the possible problems faced there by the Mars settlers, such as finding water, air and shelter, and offers possible solutions.
So if you are a space fanatic, don’t forget to catch up on these 20 inspirational books to find out even more about our magnificent universe.
Paul is the founder of Iris Reading, the largest provider of speed-reading and memory courses. His workshops have been taught to thousands of students and professionals worldwide at institutions that include: NASA, Google, HSBC and many Fortune 500 companies.