Encyclopedia on Astronomy in Malayalam;a voyage through the wonders of Universe

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The State institute of Encyclopedic Publications,Kerala, an Institute established for publishing general encyclopedias in Malayalam decided to welcome the International year of Astronomy- with a bold step by publishing an Encyclopedia on Astronomy in Malayalam ;the first of its kind in any regional Indian language. Publishing an encyclopedia within a year was not  an easy job. But preparations were started since the dawn of January 2009 by conducting a workshop at Thiruvananthapuram. Experts in the fields of astronomy and astrophysics from various parts of Kerala assembled in the capital city to discuss about  the making of Encyclopedia on astronomy. more than 700 entries were approved after detailed discussions. There after writing and editing of articles were begun  in a systematic way.  At the fag end of December 2009, Encyclopedia on astronomy became a reality. on 4 January 2010 world- famous astrophysicist and Nobel laureate of 2006 Dr. John.C. Mather released this unique volume at a grand function in Trivandrum. After releasing the Encyclopedia,  Dr. John. C. Mather stated that, he realised its relevance and this Encyclopedia could provide an experience of voyage through the wonders and  mysteries of the universe.

As John.C. Mather stated the Encyclopedia of astronomy is really a voyage through the amazing wonders and mysteries of our universe. This exclusive reference book showcases all the developments such as historical, theoretical, observational ones and explorations in the field of astronomy and related areas since the beginning of man’s astronomical observations. The articles in it are drafted with an outlook to link the public with the magnificent world of astronomy in a realistic way. In short, the Encyclopedia of  Astronomy tries to explore the origin and development of astronomical observations since the dawn of human civilization to the latest event of lunar exploration by Chandrayan-1 and its  later phases in alphabetical order. This Encyclopedia tries to narrate the story of the universe and its phenomena through more than 700 authoritative entries. There are   innumerable constellation charts, star atlases and narrative tables, thousands of  spectacular images (most of them were provided by NASA) which give perfection and comprehensiveness to the articles in it. If anyone who goes only through the attractive and descriptive images, he will definitely get a glimpse of the magnificent world of astronomy.

Illustrated entries included on the development of astronomical instrumentations, range from the very ancient astrolabe to their most modern space based detectors. Astrolabe was an instrument used by ancient people to measure directions while traveling. The  article on the telescope narrate the history of the development of various types of  telescopes and their mechanism from Galilean to James web telescope. Now space based telescopes such as the Hubble space telescope, Chandra X- ray telescope, Compton gamma ray observatory  were continuously provide billions megabits of data through out day and night. Path breaking  experiments like large Hadron Collider, focusing on the origin and development of the universe, also included here. Topics on extra terrestrial  intelligence and extra solar planets enable the reader to think beyond our galaxy.

Another attraction of this subject oriented encyclopedia is its in-depth survey of  individuals who have devoted their life to the cause of astronomy. Special attention has been given to the forerunners of Indian school of astronomy such as Aryabhattan, Neelakanda Somayaji, Vadasseri parameswaran, Vainubappu, Jayanth Narlikar, Thanupadmanabhan and others. The makers of modern astronomy like Galileo Galilee, Johannes Kepler, Copernicus, Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Edwin powell, William Hershel, Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking have appeared as special features. Essays on individuals not only trace their distinctive career but also try to enumerate their memorable contributions in astronomy and related areas.

Essays on theoretical astronomy need special mention. Hypothesis, theories and  observations pertaining to the beginning of the universe and its probable end, the formation of the stars and galaxies are also included. Varied concepts such as dark  matter, dark energy missing matter and black holes are also descriptively treated in the essays. Articles on trend setting space explorations, like COBE, SOHO, Chandrayan etc. add to the immense worth of this encyclopedia.

Special feature articles are add to the charm of his encyclopedia. Essays on solar system, sun, planets, moons, stars, stellar evolution, galaxies, nebulae, extraterrestrial life, Big-bang, ISRO, Indian Astronomy, Kerala school of astronomy and so on are very useful to widen our knowledge of the universe. In addition to these, ultra modern branches of astronomy such as Neutrino astronomy, Radar astronomy, Radio  astronomy, Ultra violet astronomy etc, are discussed in detail.

Obliviously, the Encyclopedia of astronomy is an indispensable reference book to guide us in the understanding of  this universe in depth.The cost for single copy is 900 Rs.Copies can be had from State Institute of Encyclopedia Publications,DPI Junction,Jagathy,Thiruvananthapuram.Ph : 04712-325303.One can contact AASTRO co-ordinators too.

R. Anirudhan/SIEP/AASTRO

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