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"The present book contains a brief account, written in simple language, of the methods and results of modern astronomical research, both observational and theoretical. Special attention has been given to problems of cosmogony and evolution, and to the general structure of the universe. My ideal, perhaps never wholly attainable, has been that of the making the entire book intelligible to readers with no special scientific knowledge. Parts of the book cover the same ground as various lectures I have recently delivered to University and other audiences, including a course of wireless talks I gave last autumn. It has been found necessary to rewrite these almost in their entirety, so that very few sentences remain in their original form, but those who have asked me to publish my lectures and wireless talks will find the substance of them in the present book."
-J.H.JEANS - DORKING, 1 May 1929
"In preparing a second edition, I have taken advantage of a great number of suggestions made by correspondents and reviewers, to whom I offer my sincerest thanks. I have also inserted discussions of the new planet Pluto, the rotation of the galaxy, the apparent expansion of the universe, and other subjects which have become important since the first edition was published, and in general have tried to bring the book up to date."
-J.H.JEANS - DORKING, 2 August 1930
"The three years which have elapsed since the second edition of this book appeared have been more than usually eventful for those parts of science with which the book deals. At the sub-atomic end of the scale of nature, the uncharged neutron and the positively-charged electron have been discovered. At the other end of the scale there is much new knowledge, both observational and theoretical, on the expansion of the universe and cosmic radiation. In the intermediate parts of the scale, in addition to a large mass of new observational material, we find new spectroscopic methods for investigating the constitution and rotations of the stars, and new theoretical discussions of their structure. From these and other causes, the present edition is substantially longer than its predecessors."
-J.H.JEANS - DORKING, 7 October 1933
"In the interval since the third edition appeared, astronomy has continued its triumphal progress. Perhaps the most noteworthy single episode has been the discovery that the physics of atomic nuclei can not only give a satisfactory account of the radiation of the sun and stars, but can also explain many hitherto puzzling stellar characteristics; the largest and smallest ingredients of nature - the star and the atomic nucleus - have met and thrown light on one another, to the great improvement of our understanding of both. This and other outstanding advances have necessitated many changes in and additions to my book. A large part of it has been rewritten, while most of the remainder has been substantially amended."
-J.H.JEANS - DORKING, September 1943
There are 32 pages of photographic plates:
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