Meteor Showers and their Parent Comets

ISBN Number: 
Peter Jenniskens

A unique handbook for astronomers interested in observing meteor storms and outbursts. Spectacular displays of 'shooting stars' are created when the Earth's orbit crosses a meteoroid stream, as each meteoroid causes a bright light when it enters our atmosphere at high speed. Jenniskens, an active meteor storm chaser, explains how meteoroid streams originate from the decay of meteoroids, comets and asteroids, and how they cause meteor showers on Earth. He includes the findings of recent space missions to comets and asteroids, the risk of meteor impacts on Earth, and how meteor showers may have seeded the Earth with ingredients that made life possible. All known meteor showers are identified, accompanied by fascinating details on the most important showers and their parent comets. The book predicts when exceptional meteor showers will occur over the next 50 years, making it a valuable resource for both amateur and professional astronomers.

• Explains the cause and evolution of meteoroid streams • Identifies about 250 known meteor showers and forecasts exceptional meteor showers in the coming decades • Contains new insights into comet fragmentation as an important source of main meteor showers • Details results from the Leonid Multi-Instrument Aircraft Campaign

  • Hardcover: 802 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (September 25, 2006)
  • ISBN: 0521853494

Confessions of an Alien Hunter

ISBN Number: 
Seth Shostak

Aliens are big in America. Whether they’ve arrived via rocket, flying saucer, or plain old teleportation, they’ve been invading, infiltrating, or inspiring us for decades, and they’ve fascinated moviegoers and television watchers for more than fifty years.

Dr. Seth Shostak's new book, Confessions of An Alien Hunter: A Scientist’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (National Geographic Books) offers an entertaining and expert account of the facts, fantasies, and future of finding intelligence elsewhere in the universe, and how real science differs from the Hollywood view of extraterrestrial

Lakes on Mars

Nathalie Cabrol, Edmond Grin

On Earth, lakes provide favorable environments for the development of life and its preservation as fossils. They are extremely sensitive to climate fluctuations and to conditions within their watersheds. As such, lakes are unique markers of the impact of environmental changes. Past and current missions have now demonstrated that water once flowed at the surface of Mars early in its history. Evidence of ancient ponding has been uncovered at scales ranging from a few kilometers to possibly that of the Arctic ocean. Whether life existed on Mars is still unknown; upcoming missions may find critical evidence to address this question in ancient lakebeds as clues about Mars' climate evolution and its habitability potential are still preserved in their sedimentary record.

Lakes on Mars is the first review on this subject. It is written by leading planetary scientists who have dedicated their careers to searching and exploring the questions of water, lakes, and oceans on Mars through their involvement in planetary exploration, and the analysis of orbital and ground data beginning with Viking up to the most recent missions. In thirteen chapters, Lakes on Mars critically discusses new data and explores the role that water played in the evolution of the surface of Mars, the past hydrological provinces of the planet, the possibility of heated lake habitats through enhanced geothermal flux associated with volcanic activity and impact cratering. The book also explores alternate hypotheses to explain the geological record. Topographic, morphologic, stratigraphic, and mineralogic evidence are presented that suggest successions of ancient lake environments in Valles Marineris and Hellas. The existence of large lakes and/or small oceans in Elysium and the Northern Plains is supported both by the global distribution of deltaic deposits and by equipotential surfaces that may reflect their past margins. Whether those environments were conducive to life has yet to be demonstrated but from comparison with our planet, their sedimentary deposits may provide the best opportunity to find its record, if any. The final chapters explore the impact of climate variability on declining lake habitats in one of the closest terrestrial analogs to Mars at the Noachian/Hesperian transition, identify the geologic, morphologic and mineralogic signatures of ancient lakes to be searched for on Mars, and present the case for landing the Mars Science Laboratory mission in such an environment.

The Everything Da Vinci Book: Explore the life and times of the Ultimate Renaissance Man

ISBN Number: 
Cynthia Phillips, Shana Priwer

Highlights the most recent developments in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), and advocates a diverse range of approaches to make SETI increasingly more powerful and effective in the years to come.

In April 2010, fifty years to the month after the first experiment in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), scholars from a range of disciplines—including astronomy, mathematics, anthropology, history, and cognitive science—gathered at NASA’s biennial Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon) for a series of sessions on the search for intelligent life. This book highlights the most recent developments in SETI discussed at that conference, emphasizing the ways that SETI has grown since its inception. The volume covers three broad themes: First, leading researchers examine the latest developments in observational SETI programs, as well as innovative proposals for new search strategies and novel approaches to signal processing. Second, both proponents and opponents of “Active SETI” debate whether humankind should be transmitting intentional signals to other possible civilizations, rather than only listening. Third, constructive proposals for interstellar messages are juxtaposed with critiques that ask whether any meaningful exchange is possible with an independently evolved civilization, given the constraints of contact at interstellar distances, where a round-trip exchange could take centuries or millennia.

As we reflect on a half-century of SETI research, we are reminded of the expansion of search programs made possible by technological and conceptual advances. In this spirit of ongoing exploration, the contributors to this book advocate a diverse range of approaches to make SETI increasingly more powerful and effective, as we embark on the next half-century of searching for intelligence beyond Earth.

Edna DeVore

Edna DeVore
Director, Center for Education

Science and astronomy educator Edna DeVore is the Director of Education at the SETI Institute. She’s been a researcher, planetarium director, teacher, and curriculum writer, and currently is busy with projects related to education and SETI. Notable among these are the “Life in the Universe” curriculum materials for students in grades 3-9 and a high school course, “Voyages Through Time”.

Edna also co-directs the education and public outreach programs for two NASA missions: SOFIA and Kepler. SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) is a modified 747 commercial jet that will carry a large (2.5 m) telescope up to 45,000 feet to observe the universe in infrared wavelengths – a part of the spectrum which cannot be seen from the ground. The Kepler Mission is a space-based telescope that will hunt for Earth-sized planets in orbit about Sun-like stars.

Edna says she was fascinated by the sky in the summers of her childhood near California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. Brilliant stars and the glittering Milky Way shimmered overhead from her front yard, unsullied by street lights. The sky was a part of the evening’s entertainment. Then, as an undergraduate, she took physics and encountered astronomy. That led Edna to work in planetariums, further education, and eventually her current work at the Institute. Now she’s bringing the excitement and knowledge of science to new generations. It’s hard to think of anything more important.

Andrew Fraknoi

Andrew Fraknoi

Andrew Fraknoi is the Chair of the Astronomy Department at Foothill College in Los Altos, California. Fraknoi was the Carnegie Endowment for Higher Education's 2007 California Professor of the Year. He was the founding co-editor of the journal "Astronomy Education Review," is lead author of the "Voyages Through the Universe" college textbooks series, and was Executive Director of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for 14 years.

  • Chair, Astronomy Department, Foothill College (1992 - present)
  • Selected 2007 California Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Endowment for Higher Education
  • Founder and co-editor, Astronomy Education Review (2001 - 2010)
  • Lead author, Voyages Through the Universe, college textbook series from Brooks-Cole (1997 - present)
  • Member, SETI Institute Board of Trustees (Vice-Chair 2010-2012)
  • Executive Director, Astronomical Society of the Pacific (1978 - 1992)
  • Adjunct Professor of Astronomy & Physics, San Francisco State University (1980 - 1991)
  • Founding Editor, The Universe in the Classroom newsletter on teaching astronomy (1984 - 1991)
  • Winner, Annenberg Foundation Prize for Astronomy Education, American Astronomical Society (1994)
  • Asteroid 4859 named Asteroid Fraknoi (1992) by the International Astronomical Union
  • Fellow, California Academy of Sciences (2003 on)
  • Winner, Klumpke-Roberts Prize of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for astronomy popularization (1994)
  • Winner, Gemant Prize, American Institute of Physics (2007)
  • Elected Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (2011)

John Gertz

John Gertz
Trustee Emeritus, Former Chairman

John Gertz is the president and CEO of Zorro Productions, Inc., which he founded in 1977. He has been responsible for four Zorro motion pictures including Zorro, the Gay Blade (1982), The Mask of Zorro (1998), and The Legend of Zorro (2005), the last two starring Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta -Jones. Also under his tenure, seven different ZORRO TV series have been produced, as well as about twenty ZORRO stage productions. Zorro Productions has executed over a thousand license agreements in such diverse areas as book and comic publishing, theme parks, commercial endorsements, apparel, food products, computer games and toys. Zorro Productions does business in many countries around the world through a network of some 35 agencies. In 2005, together with world renowned author, Isabel Allende, ZPI released a novel about the genesis of the ZORRO character. It hit the NY Times bestseller list and has been published in some 30 languages.  Gertz is an avid amateur astronomer, past-president of the Berkeley Jewish Community Center Board, and various other non-profit boards. He earned his M.A in psycholophysiology from Haifa University, and his B.A. in comparative mythology and religion at UCLA and Prescott College.


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