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Astronomy for beginners.

by Hereward Carrington; American Popular Literature Collection.

  Print book

Review of Astronomy for Beginners (#895) by Hereward Carrington.   (2014-01-02)


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by wppalmer

Review of Astronomy for Beginners (#895) by Hereward Carrington.

CITATION: Carrington, H. (n.d.) (edited E. Haldeman-Julius). Astronomy for Beginners (Little Blue Book Number 895). Girard, Kansas: Haldeman-Julius Company

Reviewer: Dr W. P. Palmer.

Hereward Carrington's brief 60 page booklet on `Astronomy for Beginners' in the Little Blue Book series is undated, but was probably written in 1927. Astronomical knowledge has developed extremely rapidly, so the book is of little practical use today, being totally outdated. The book described more than sixty words commonly used in astronomy in these sixty pages. It thus loses continuity and becomes a statement of a few brief facts about planets, constellations, types of star, eclipses, telescopes, the tides, the ether, gravitation, thunder and lightning, fireballs, atomic analogies, life in space, etc. Many would consider that some of these topics do not lie within the definition of astronomy.

The planets of the solar system and the moon are described in the first 24 pages. Thereafter a variety of terms relating to astronomy, stars and types of star, meteors, meteorites, nebulae, gravitation and the ether are all explained. Carrington is particularly fond of some ideas, often because they were also favourite themes of scientists whose views he shared due to a common interest in psychic research. In the present booklet, Carrington refers the reader to another of his Little Blue Books, `Chemistry for Beginners' to describe the ether, about which he says that Sir Oliver Lodge is an expert. By 1927, the idea of the ether was generally discredited, but Sir Oliver Lodge was also interested in psychic research. Similarly he quotes the French astronomer Flammarion (p. 14: p. 20), who also had interests in psychic matters, frequently. Sometimes Carrington is just unlucky: he does not mention Pluto as a planet as Pluto's existence was only confirmed in 1930, three years after he wrote this Little Blue Book. Unfortunately Little Blue Books were never corrected as new scientific facts were discovered, and so those relating to science soon became obsolete. Those reading this book after 1930 would have thought him behind the times, unjustly. Carrington gives prominence to Lowell's `canals on Mars' theory (pp. 13-16) which even in 1927 was known to be untrue.

In spite of the above criticisms it is one of Carrington's better Little Blue Books and has some historical interest.


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